Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Remembering Patrick

I grew up knowing very little about St. Patrick except that I had better wear green on March 17th or risk being pinched. Then in the late 90's I read an excellent book by Thomas Cahill called How the Irish Saved Civilization and all of that changed.

Patrick grew up in Britain and as a teenager was kidnapped by the barbaric Irish and forced into slavery. Living in isolation as a slave for 6 years, he one day was guided by God's hand to trek 200 miles to his freedom.

The story could have ended there and we would consider it a miraculous tale. But Patrick decides that his time with the lowly Irish was not finished. God gave him a dream that the Irish people were begging for him to return. And with no schooling and the label of a slave on the run, he returned to Ireland to eventually become the most celebrated Irish legend.

And Cahill's book talks of how Patrick "saved" the Irish and it was the Irish who worked at keeping mankind's greatest writings and treasures in tact during the dark ages. And when the time came, they reintroduced them to a world that was was ripe for understanding, thus saving civilization as we know it today.

There is a prayer called St. Patrick's breastplate that is attributed to him, though probably written after he died. Either way it is a fitting tribute nonetheless to a man who overcame so many obstacles to bring the light of salvation to the people of Ireland and affect the rest of the world. We read it on Sunday and it is a good reminder of deep spiritual reality. Happy St. Patrick's Day.

I bind unto myself today the strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same the Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever by power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river, His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb, His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour, the service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word, the Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord and purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today the virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray, the whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free, the whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today the power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch,
His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin, the vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within, the hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh, in every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles, against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles, against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft, against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft, protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name, the strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same, the Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation, Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation, Salvation is of Christ the Lord.