Mark D. Roberts

Mark D. Roberts


In Honor of St. Patrick

posted by Mark D. Roberts

In Honor of St. Patrick

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He
brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. Most people think of
this day as a time for wearing green and that’s about it (unless you’re
Irish!). St. Patrick gets relatively little attention on his day, so I
thought I might offer a few thoughts in his honor, including a prayer
that is attributed to him. (Photo: Statue of St. Patrick, Aghagower, County Mayo, Ireland)

st-patrick-statue-3.jpg

Patrick’s story reads like an Indiana Jones-type adventure. Raised in
Britain (yes, not Ireland), Patrick was captured by pirates in A.D. 405
when he was only sixteen years old. The kidnappers whisked him away to
Ireland and sold Patrick into slavery. He spent eight years as a captive
in this pagan land.

During his captivity, Patrick embraced the Christian faith of his
upbringing, something that had mattered little to him beforehand. In his
own words, Patrick explained: “And there the Lord opened the sense of
my unbelief that I might at last remember my sins and be converted with
all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my abjection, and
mercy on my youth and ignorance, and watched over me before I knew Him,
and before I was able to distinguish between good and evil, and guarded
me, and comforted me as would a father his son” (from The Confession of St. Patrick).

Inspired by a dream, Patrick finally escaped from Ireland and made
his way back to his home in Britain. But, in time, he sensed God’s call
to return to Ireland, of all places, in order to share the good news of
Christ with the pagans there. Even though he feared he wasn’t
sufficiently learned to be a missionary, Patrick returned to Ireland,
where he found unprecedented success in his evangelistic endeavors. His
experience of Irish language and culture during his years as a slave
enabled Patrick to communicate the Christian gospel with unusual
effectiveness.

Though we can’t be sure when Patrick died, tradition holds that he
lived into his seventies and died on March 17 in the latter half of the
fifth-century A.D. In twenty-five or thirty years of evangelistic work,
he led thousands of Irish pagans to Christ and was responsible for
Ireland’s becoming one of the most Christian nations in Europe. For this
reason he is called “the apostle of the Irish.”

The story of Patrick reminds me, in a way, of Joseph’s experience in
Egypt. In both cases, what kidnappers and slave masters intended for
evil, God intended for good (Gen. 50:20). Today I want to celebrate, not
only Patrick’s example of faithfulness, but also the mystery and
majesty of God’s redemptive sovereignty. It’s not unusual for people who
have experienced some particular trauma in life to end up ministering
to others who suffer that same trauma. A friend of mine, for example,
who was sexually abused by her pastor when she was a teenager, now has a
tenderhearted ministry to women who have experienced similar abuse.
Thus, St. Patrick serves as an example of how God can work all things
together for good, even things which are quite evil.

Our closing prayer today is attributed to St. Patrick, sometimes
called his “Breastplate.” There are many different versions of this
prayer, and we can’t be sure it originated with Patrick. Nevertheless,
it faithfully represents his powerful faith in the triune God. The first
line “I arise today” is sometimes translated as “I bind unto myself
today.”

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Were you aware of the real St. Patrick? How has God used difficult and even evil things in your life for good?

PRAYER:
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth 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 archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor 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 save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose 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 witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me 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 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.

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.

Amen.

_________________________________________________

Would you like to receive a Daily Reflection like this one in your email inbox each morning? 

Here’s how . . . . This devotional comes from The High Calling: Everyday Conversations about Work, Life, and God (www.thehighcalling.org). You can read my Daily Reflections there, or sign up to have them sent to your email inbox each day. This website contains lots of encouragement for people who are trying to live out their faith in the workplace. The High Calling is associated with Laity Lodge, where I work.



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