Friday, March 15, 2013

I Arise Today - St. Patrick's Story

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

I, Patrick, a sinner, unlearned, resident in Ireland, declare myself to be a bishop. Most assuredly I believe that what I am I have received from God. And so I live among barbarians, a stranger and exile for the love of God. He is witness that this is so. Not that I wished my mouth to utter anything so hard and harsh; but I am forced by the zeal for God; and the truth of Christ has wrung it from me, out of love for my neighbors and sons for whom I gave up my country and parents and my life to the point of death. If I be worthy, I live for my God to teach the heathen, even though some may despise me...
"A letter to Coroticus"

St. Patrick's Day has turned into a big green beer drinking party at least in America. I have found that the man for whom the day is named to be quite a remarkable person. I read a wonderful book a few years ago called How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill.  During the Dark Ages much of the worlds writing and historical record would have been lost if not for the Irish monks who made copies of everything they could get their hands on. While Libraries and books were being destroyed all over Europe these monks were used by God to preserve and protect the written word. They can be traced back to Patrick.

So here's a summary of his story as I know it.

It is around Patrick 385 and Patrick is born in Scotland to his parents Calpurnius and Chonchessa. They were Roman citizens living in Britan. It is said that his Father was a deacon in the church but perhaps more for political reasons rather than deeply religious convictions. At about age 16 Patrick is captured by Irish raiders and sold into slavery in Ireland. Patrick had some foundations of faith that had been laid during his childhood before his families estate was attacked and he was taken away as a prisoner. He then spend the next 6 years as a slave working as a shepherd. Far away from home he turns to God as his comforter, companion and in the lonely hours of his captivity he grow closer to God. He says he would pray as much as a hundred times a day. At some point he has a vision and he is told it is time for him to leave Ireland and to make his way along to coast until he found a ship that would take him home.
He does make it home and once there has another vision about returning to Ireland. He goes on to study and train to become a priest and eventually is sent back to Ireland. Ireland at the time is a pagan place. Patrick is considered on of the first missionaries and is called the Apostle of Ireland. He is  thought to have been responsible for evangelizing Ireland.  

One of my favorite prayers that is attributed to have been written by St. Patrick is called St. Patric's The Lorica which means Breast Plate.
There are a number of nice renditions of it at Youtube but I liked this one that was sung as a prayer at a missionary conference.

" 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 the strength of Christ's birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.

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,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

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."

Patrick was a spiritual warrior and had many encounters with the Druids. He was a guy who had signs and wonders and miracles that followed his ministry. One article I read implied that it was not the literal snakes that he drove out of the land but the pagans who's symbol was the snake. Who knows for sure on a lot of these things. It is clear that he used his life for the glory of God. His faithfulness to go back to Ireland changed the whole country and according to Thomas Cahill's book, he impacted the entire world.

He used the local clover plant to share with the people about the Trinity. Which is a good reminder that we too can use things that are familiar to people to communicate the truths of God.

"Before I was humiliated I was like a stone that lies in deep mud, and he who is mighty came and in his compassion raised me up and exalted me very high and placed me on the top of the wall."
Saint Patrick

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