Today there are no signs of the things commonly associated with St. Patrick’s Day such as parades, green beer, shamrocks, and leprechauns. Well, maybe shamrocks here and there but no one is around to display flashes of green and no one is around to see them. Anyway, with the lack of the symbols, mostly superficial, we are afforded the opportunity of getting to the heart of the man behind the usual celebrations of March 17.
St. Patrick is definitely a great Saint for these dark times. I woke up this morning with the words of the prayer that he is said to have written:
“I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
I arise today, through
God’s strength 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 shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.
I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me […]
It’s a beautiful prayer in its entirety but I was especially thinking of these parts today in light of the current coronavirus crisis affecting the whole world. I think that it reveals a lot about Saint Patrick himself. Most powerfully, these words show us that God was the source of his strength and the One Whom he was centered on.
It was the Almighty arm of God that sustained him throughout his life, from the time he was kidnapped and taken into Ireland as a slave to the time he returned to Ireland as a Bishop of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, as an ambassador of Christ Jesus. God was watching over him and protected him from all those who wished to harm him in any way.
St. Patrick brought the light of Christ into the darkness surrounding the Emerald Isle. He stood off against the Druids who were responsible for keeping the people of Ireland shrouded in the shadows of pagan beliefs. There is the story of how he lit a bonfire in defiance of the customary lighting of fire that was always done by the Druid priests. This was done by St. Patrick who was celebrating the great Feast of the Resurrection, the Easter Vigil, when Christ conquered death. it is said that he cast out all of the snakes of the land. Whether or not he literally did this or if this is symbolic of his casting out of dark forces, you get the idea of what a force he was. And so, I think we would do good to seek his intercession in this time when the pestilence of coronavirus is affecting thousands of people around the world and is responsible for the deaths of thousands.
St. Patrick, may we trust in God as the source of our strength. In the name of Jesus Christ, help to guard against anything that could cometo harm us, especially this virus.
God willing, I hope to be back here with some more thoughts.