Thursday, March 17, 2016

St. Patrick's Lorica

March 17, 2016

Surprisingly enough, it's not about just Leprechauns and green beer. St. Patrick's Day remembers a man who evangelized an entire nation. Patrick was English by birth, son of a Christian nobleman of the 5th century, when Britain was still a Roman province. When still a teenager, Patrick was captured by Irish pirates and enslaved for six years before escaping and returning to his family. He had a vision in which he was told to return to Ireland as a Christian missionary, which he did. Much of what is known or believed about him is more legendary than factual, but tradition attributes to his work and teaching the conversion of the nation to Christianity. His alleged use of the three-leaved shamrock to illustrate the doctrine of the Holy Trinity spawned the association of that plant with his name.

Historical records of those long-ago days are notoriously spotty and unreliable, but the legends that sprung up around him give credence to the basic outlines of his life. Wherever the truth actually lies, it is beyond question that Ireland's Christian history has its roots in him. Would that we had such men today empowered by the Holy Spirit to win the heart and soul of an entire nation for Jesus Christ!

In the Christian monastic tradition, a lorica is a prayer recited for protection. It is essentially a 'protection prayer' in which the petitioner invokes all the power of God as a safeguard against evil in its many forms. The Latin word lorica originally meant "armor" or "breastplate," probably derived from Ephesians 6:14, where the Apostle bids his readers stand, "having put on the breast-plate of righteousness." The Hymn "Be Thou My Vision" is such a prayer put to music. Then there is St. Patrick's Lorica.

Whether it actually originated with Patrick or is a later poem attributed to him, St. Patrick's Lorica is a beautiful testimony of faith in Christ at a time in history when danger was ever more present and threatening than it is for most of us today. I find it to be good at the beginning of the day to get my mind and heart in proper tune for whatever challenges may arise. Whatever its actual source, I am grateful for the wisdom it imparts.

Lorica of Saint Patrick

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and 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 service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the 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 hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes 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 women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

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 in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

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