Today is Saint Patrick’s Day, of course. And maybe, like me, you’re not only thinking about parades and shamrocks and green beer, but also have at least a passing thought about good old Pat himself. I grabbed a green T-shirt out of my closet to wear today; but then: it has Jesus riding a T-Rex on it, so I’m not sure if it really counts as Pat-festive.
This is the guy who was raised wealthy, in England, but was taken as a slave to Ireland. After escaping and returning home to his family, he felt the call to return to Ireland—this time as a missionary (a very poor missionary). Patrick and others like him have often been credited with “saving” Christianity during the dark ages. They actually sent missionaries to continental Europe to re-introduce the gospel.
There are very few written prayers that both challenge me and encourage me like the words of the prayer often referred to as Saint Patrick’s Breastplate. The words comfort and encourage me as they remind me of the presence of Jesus. And because I’m wholeheartedly convinced that love is the motive for everything Jesus does, his presence is always a good thing.
But the words challenge me also. They challenge me because my intellectual desire for a vibrant faith isn’t always matched by my heart. I aspire to this sort of faith, even if I don’t completely live it every day.
Take a moment, now, to read this selection from Saint Patrick’s Breastplate, slowly. Read it more than once. Allow the words to encourage and challenge you.
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 when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Ok, now you can go have that green bagel.