Saturday, March 17, 2007

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig

I can't imagine a better way to celebrate St Patrick's Day (apart from Mass and a pint of Guinness afterwards) than the way I did last year. So, here it is:

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.


Talmida said...

Your version is a bit different from mine, Liam, but I could read this prayer 100 times a day -- I get swept up in it.

I don't remember ever hearing that last bit, Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of Christ. May Thy Salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.
Thanks for enlightening me!

Oh, and where did you find the icon? I've just started to learn about icons.

May the road rise up to meet you and the wind be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rains fall soft upon your fields. May God hold you in the palm of his hand.


Liam said...

Yeah it seems we both had the same idea of putting the Lorica up -- which is good, it's a beautiful prayer.

I just did a google search on "St. Patrick icons."

The wife of one of my professors (an Anglo-Irish Romanian Orthodox priest and patristics expert) is an icon painter who does some beautiful stuff:
Eileen McGuckin

Happy St Patrick's Day.

crystal said...

Nice icon! Happy St. Patrick's Day, Liam.

Liam said...

Happy St Patrick's Day, Crystal.

Paula said...

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

Liam said...

Happy St Patrick's Day, Paula.

cowboyangel said...

Uh . . . Happy TWO DAYS AFTER St. Patrick's Day.

Isn't that the same icon painter who did the Santa Teresa you gave Alexandra? You had a whole series of these, no?

Nice prayer. Doesn't mention Guinness, though. Are you sure that's an accurate transcription?

Anonymous said...

you would've loved Cardinal Sean's St. Patrick's day mass at the Boston Catholic Men's conference in Boston. He really gave me an appreciation of St. Patrick for the first time, as I am not Irish. Here's a link to Cardinal Sean's Blog:

Then there is this pithy book about how the irish saved all of western civilization carrying the torch of Roman civilization and catholicism:

(warning, not all reviewers agree)

Read all that and St. Patrick climbs up a few pegs on the Saint ladder, even if you're not Irish. Enjoyed the prayer, thanks for posting it.

All the Best,

Liam said...

Dear B,

Thanks for coming by. Cahill's book is pretty fun, though not the most rigorous history -- still, a lot of people don't know about the great cultural contribution made by Irish monks during the early Middle Ages, so it was nice to see him have success with that book.