Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Praying in the Spirit of St. Patrick

loricaThose who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s remember on the Feast of St. Patrick each year, we sang the folksy “Christ before me, Christ after me …”during our liturgies. Granted, a cute tribute to St. Patrick which made the Irish happy (I am 50 percent Irish) but wholly devoid of the magnificent theology in the full prayer known as the “Breastplate of St. Patrick.”

The theology contained in this ancient prayer is simply profound.  Some believe it is built upon a druidic incantation but anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I fail anyone who hands me a reference from Wikipedia per se.

The core of the prayer is built upon the doctrine which expresses that when God the Father reflected upon Himself in a finite way, the multitudinous array of creation came forth which, when all gather together, express the infinite perfections of His nature.

The prayer has a deep theology of binding and loosing to creation which is a reflection of the dominion granted to humanity by the Lord Himself in Genesis 1:28. This “dominion” expresses the reality that in some mysterious way, we are connected to creation and responsible for continuing  with it on the journey towards its perfection:

(CCC 302) Creation has its own goodness and proper perfection, but it did not spring forth complete from the hands of the Creator. The universe was created “in a state of journeying” (in statu viae) toward an ultimate perfection yet to be attained, to which God has destined it. We call “divine providence” the dispositions by which God guides his creation toward this perfection:

By his providence God protects and governs all things which he has made, “reaching mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and ordering all things well”. For “all are open and laid bare to his eyes”, even those things which are yet to come into existence through the free action of creatures.

and,

(CCC 307) To human beings God even gives the power of freely sharing in his providence by entrusting them with the responsibility of “subduing” the earth and having dominion over it. God thus enables men to be intelligent and free causes in order to complete the work of creation, to perfect its harmony for their own good and that of their neighbors. Though often unconscious collaborators with God’s will, they can also enter deliberately into the divine plan by their actions, their prayers and their sufferings. They then fully become “God’s fellow workers” and co-workers for his kingdom.

Upon further reflection, we may see the natural virtues present in each of the elements of creation that the prayer binds us to. The best way to understand is just to pray it. Happy St. Patrick’s Day:

 

I bind to myself today:

The strong power of an invocation of the Trinity,

The faith of the Trinity in Unity

The Creator of the Universe.

 

I bind to myself today:

The might of the Incarnation of Christ

With that of His Baptism,

The might of His Crucifixion

With that of His Burial,

The might of His Resurrection

With that of His Ascension,

The might of His Coming on the Judgment Day.

 

I bind to myself today:

The power in the love of the Seraphim,

In the obedience of the Angels,

In the ministration of the Archangels,

In the hope of Resurrection unto reward,

In the prayers of the Patriarchs,

In the predictions of the Prophets,

In the preaching of the Apostles,

In the faith of the Confessors,

In the purity of the holy Virgins,

In the deeds of righteous men.

 

I bind to myself today:

The power of Heaven,

The brightness of the Sun,

The whiteness of Snow,

The splendor of Fire,

The speed of Lightning,

The swiftness of the Wind,

The depth of the Sea,

The stability of the Earth,

The firmness of Rocks.

 

I bind to myself today:

God’s Power to pilot me,

God’s Might to uphold me,

God’s Wisdom to guide me,

God’s Eye to look before me,

God’s Ear to hear me,

God’s Word to speak for me,

God’s Hand to guard me,

God’s Way to lie before me,

God’s Shield to shelter me,

God’s Host to secure me.

 

Against the snares of demons,

Against the seductions of vices,

Against the lusts of nature,

Against everyone who meditates injury to me,

Whether far or near,

Whether few or with many.

 

I invoke today all these virtues:

Against every hostile merciless power

Which may assail my body and my soul.

Against the incantations of false prophets,

Against the black laws of heathenism,

Against the false laws of heresy,

Against the deceits of idolatry,

Against the spells of women, and smiths and Druids,

Against every knowledge that blinds the soul of man.

 

Christ protect me today:

Against poison, against burning,

Against drowning, against wounding,

That I may receive abundant reward.

 

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,

Christ in me, Christ beneath me,

Christ above me, Christ at my right,

Christ at my left, Christ when lying down,

Christ in sitting, Christ in rising up.

 

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

I bind to myself today:

The strong power of an invocation of the Trinity,

The faith of the Trinity in Unity

The Creator of the Universe. AMEN

 

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