Friday, March 17, 2006

Lá Fhéile Pádraig

Happy St Patrick's Day, everyone.

Though stuck in the gloom of a dissertation that is going nowhere (Saints Brigid of Ireland, Catherine of Alexandria, Nicholas of Myra, and Thomas Aquinas, patrons of scholars, pray for me), I must pause to remember the saint who made the Irish the second most Catholic people in the universe (first prize may well go to the Poles).

St Patrick is also the patron of the archdiocese of New York, and the cardinal archbishop has given us a dispensation to eat meat today, despite it being a Lenten Friday, in order to celebrate the good saint's feast day. I personally will dine on mutton pies and Guinness, not corned beef and green beer.

I am going to leave you with the incredibly moving prayer "The Lorica of St Patrick" (St Patrick's Breastplate). If not written by Patrick himself, it was certainly inspired by him. Its litany-like repetitions are hypnotic. The beginning "I arise today" makes it personal, giving the idea that each believer can say he begins every day with the armor of faith. It expresses an early medieval concern with temptation, heresy, and magic, but it also shows a stunning appreciation of the beauty of creation ("light of sun, brilliance of moon"). The climax of the poem situates Christ in every relation to the believer, first in each physical direction and then in all encounters with others. It is magnificent. Happy St Patrick's, every one.

The Lorica of St Patrick

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 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 obedience of Angels, in the service of the Archangels,
in hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
in prayers of Patriarchs, in predictions of Prophets,
in preachings of Apostles, in faiths of Confessors,
in innocence of Holy Virgins, in deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through the strength of Heaven:
light of Sun, brilliance of Moon, splendour of Fire,
speed of Lightning, swiftness of Wind, depth of Sea,
stability of Earth, 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 way to lie before me, God's shield to protect me,
God's host to secure me:
against snares of devils, against temptations of vices,
against inclinations of nature, against everyone who
shall wish me ill, afar and anear, alone and in a crowd.
I summon today all these powers between me (and these evils):
against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose
my body and my soul,
against incantations of false prophets,
against black laws of heathenry,
against false laws of heretics, against craft of idolatry,
against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
against every knowledge that endangers man's body and soul.
Christ to protect me today
against poison, against burning, against drowning,
against wounding, so that there may come 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 in breadth, Christ in length,
Christ in height, 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 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.
Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of Christ. May Thy Salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.


In the end, I have made some progress on the dissertation today. My thanks to Saints Catherine, Nicholas, Thomas Aquinas, and Brigid of Ireland, who probably enjoys this day very much.


Talmida said...

My favourite prayer! I reposted it this morning too (at the Other Weevil, because the Lesser one seems to be broken -- *sniff sniff*).

I used to recite the Lorica when I went walking. You can almost feel it build a kind of armour up around you -- each section with a different strength to draw from . Everytime I read it I find something new in it.


Liam said...

We seem to be commenting the same thing at each other's blogs. A wee bit of St Patrick's synergy, I suppose.

crystal said...

Happy St. Patrick's Day, Liam :-)

Liam said...

And to you, Crystal.

lullaby said...

"against spells of witches and smiths and wizards"

what worries me most is smiths .
(I couldn't resist, I apologize).

I had some saturday Mutton in Torrey, Utah. Missed you at the parade. ~r

Liam said...

Ha! Acually, there was always a fear/suspicion/awed admiration for blacksmiths in traditional cultures. I think Mircea Eliade says something about it in his book on alchemy.

Feliz dia de San Patricio, primo.