Saint Patrick’s “Breastplate” Prayer
Being married to an Irish man and having an interest in Celtic spirituality, the familiar words of St. Patrick’s “Breastplate” prayer have popped into my head on numerous occasions this week.
Legend has it that a local chieftain was out to get a particular Celt named Patrick. The chieftain sent his men to kill Patrick as he travelled along a lonely wooded road. As they closed in on Patrick, his pursuers discovered that he had disappeared into thin air. All they saw was a deer bounding across the road. From that adventure, legend has it that the Prayer of St. Patrick (the “Lorica” or “Breastplate”) emerged. More recent scholarship however, suggests its author was anonymous. In any case, this prayer certainly reflects the spirit with which St. Patrick brought faith to Ireland!
Today, we live in a perfect storm of challenges, many of which are beyond our control. We are anxious about the future of our planet as we consider the reality of global climate change and humankind’s feeble responses. We are economically and professionally uncertain. We need courage, inspiration, and perseverance.
One verse of the prayer speaks of Christ being in every situation we encounter. We read:
“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.”
As you recite these words you get an insight into the height, depth and breadth of God’s love for each of us. The famous words of John 3:16 speak of a “God who loved the world so much that He sent His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not die but have everlasting life”.
This promise of eternal life is for everyone who acknowledges their need for forgiveness and chooses to put their trust in Jesus, the one who “binds up the broken-hearted and sets the captives free” (Isaiah 61:1)
Whatever challenges or situations we may be facing personally, in our communities, or in the world we would be wise to remember and have these words ringing in our ears to give us courage to keep going and never to give up!
“Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me “