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My Favorite Saint

March 15, 2021
May be a cartoon of text that says 'I have to Pee. He's touching me! I feel sick Are we there Yet? I hungry. 19x00 Saint Patrick regrets his decision to drive the Snakes out of Ireland.'

I grew up in a Protestant home. A conservative, independent, non-denominational home. So conservative, independent and non-denominational that I thought we were anti-denominational. So you might guess that with this church background I didn’t get much education regarding Roman Catholicism. Actually, the education I got was that Catholics were bad. Probably weren’t going to heaven. I was 49 years old before I ever went inside a Catholic church.

But in these last years of my experience, I’ve discovered that not all of the Catholic faith and tradition is evil. I’m now thinking that there may be some Catholics in heaven after all. Getting this off my chest is cathartic. Thank you.

One of the things I’ve discovered in this little journey of mine is that there are a few saints I admire. Even a Pope or two. My favorite is Saint Patrick. And since we’re celebrating his day soon, I thought I’d attempt to wax eloquent on him.

On March 17, we’ll be celebrating the anniversary of his death (not his birthday). This is a fact you’ll want to file away in case you get on Jeopardy and the category of “The Saints Go Marching In” comes up. On March 17, 461, Patrick, bishop and apostle of Ireland, dies at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland. Fittingly, history has it that he died in the church he had established there, 40 years earlier.

Patrick’s story could easily be made into an engaging movie or novel. He grew up in an affluent family in Britain, and evidently had a good life as a boy. As good a life as anyone would have had in the 400’s. Adequate food, a good home, a good education. But that came to a screeching halt when he was captured and enslaved at age 16 by Irish marauders. For six years he was their servant, which was the common practice of Irish marauders. During this time of servitude, Patrick grew deep in his faith in God. Through a series of events (which you might want to read about for yourself) he was able to escape, make his way back to Britain to be reunited with is family.

There he studied for the priesthood, and was eventually ordained a bishop. In a dream, Patrick heard God calling him back to where he had been a slave, Ireland. So he went. He arrived in Ireland in 433 and began preaching the Gospel, converting many thousands of Irish and building churches around the country.  He lived in poverty and humility. He practiced what he preached.

In a very interesting book, which I highly recommend, How the Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill writes that St. Patrick was responsible for keeping literacy alive in Ireland.

There are many myths and legends about St. Patrick. One of which, maybe the most famous of them, is that he drove the snakes from the island into the sea. They’ve never returned. Hence, the graphic at the top…

Today, St. Patrick’s day is celebrated around the globe, and not just by Catholics. It involves shamrocks, wearing green, proclaiming the luck of the Irish, and, of course, green beer. In Chicago, they die the Chicago river green. By the way, if you’ve got kids at home, you’ll want to make sure you’re wearing green on the 17th or they will pinch you. It’s a rule. And one kids never break.

Here’s my favorite thing about my favorite saint, though. Not the shamrock, which he is said to have used to illustrate the Trinity. Not the luck of the Irish. If you look at their entire history, they haven’t always been that lucky. And not the green beer. It’s this prayer attributed to him.

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
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.

Christ shield me today
Against wounding
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 everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation.

If there’s a better prayer for a believer, I’m not sure I know what it would be. Especially that next-to-the last stanza. I want Christ with me, before me, behind me, in me, beneath me, above me, on my right, on my left, when I lie down, when I sit down, in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, in the eye that sees me and in the ear that hears me.

I have a strong sense that this is how Jesus’ prayer, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done,” will come to pass.

And I think that if on this St. Patrick’s Day believers prayed a similar prayer and cooperated with God’s answer to it, the world would change in all sorts of amazing ways.

From → Marriage

  1. loriannbarron permalink

    This is great Steve! You have done your homework on Saint Patrick! I think you need to post this on Facebook.

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