Thursday, March 17, 2011

Saint Patrick's Day in the 1550th Anniversary Year of Patrick's Death


Today, there is permitted a memorial of St Patrick (390-461) patron saint of Ireland. The irony about St Patrick is that, though for long he has been touted as a symbol of Irish nationalism and opposition to England, he probably was himself a Brit, possibly from the Carlisle district of north-west England.

Patrick's writings. Patrick's Confession and his Letter to the soldiers of Coroticus are a completely different literary genre from the various lives of Irish saints that were written in subsequent centuries. Stung by criticisms of him and his mission, Patrick wrote his Confession as a kind of apologia pro vita sua to praise God for the wonderful works that he saw done through him and to defend his methods of evangelization.

Early life. Probably originating from a clerical family in the Carlisle district of north-west England, Patrick's father was a deacon and his grandfather a priest. Captured by Irish invaders, he became a slave herding sheep on Slemish mountain in Co Antrim. This changed his personality and through the power of prayer ("100 times a day and 100 times at night") he became totally devoted to God and trusting in his providence.

Escape and mission. After seven years Patrick escaped on a ship probably to Britain and back to his family. But he felt called to go back on a mission to Ireland. He trained as a monk and a priest, probably first in Britain and then in Gaul. It may have been British monk-bishops who sent him as a missionary. He possibly sold his patrimony to finance his mission and gain access to Irish chiefs.

Success and influence. Patrick probably wandered from place to place in a rural setting especially in the northern half of the country and was highly successful in encouraging young converts to follow him as monks and nuns.

When some of his converts were kidnapped by Coroticus's soldiers, fearing that they would be raped, he excommunicated those responsible, which he may not have been entitled to do and there may have been an investigation.

Probably he wasn't the first misssionary to Ireland but he had the most lasting impact. Places of pilgrimage like Lough Derg and Croagh Patrick are traditionally associated with him, as is the Celtic prayer, The Breastplate of St Patrick.

* * * 
O God, who chose the Bishop Saint Patrick to preach your glory to the peoples of Ireland, grant through his merits and intercession, that those who glory in the name of Christian may never cease to proclaim your wondrous deeds to all. Through our Lord.
* * * * * *
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 day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd 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 the 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 starlit 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 and 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,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

1 comment:

  1. Happy Saint Patrick's Day. I forgot that I'm Irish today like everyone else.