Posted by: Anne | March 17, 2012

Saint Patrick

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Author Unknown

Imagine being a privileged young Briton of the early fifth century, whose father was a Roman civil servant and whose grandfather was a priest – and then, in your early or middle teenaged years, being kidnapped by plundering invaders and taken to an alien land, where the people were pagan and you were suddenly a slave, put to work on a hillside herding and tending someone else’s sheep.

These are the events of the early life of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

It was Ireland to which he was taken after his village in Scotland was overrun by the raiding party. It was Ireland in which he lived for the next six years – during which he became so fluent in the language that later, when he returned as a missionary, he was able to communicate faultlessly with both high- and low-born, and to be incredibly successful as an evangelist, teacher, and establisher of churches.

Somehow, with God’s hand on him, Patrick’s formative years produced neither a resentful, embittered antagonist nor a despondent, despairing pessimist, but rather a humble, pious, gentle, mature individual who loved and trusted God absolutely and devoted the rest of his life – until his death on March 17 in or about the year 461 – to serving God in the place where he had been a slave of men.

During those half-dozen years in the land of pagans and Druids, he learned to communicate with the Almighty in a way he had not at home, even in a Christian household headed by a priest. He wrote, “The love of God. . .grew in me more and more. . .my soul was roused. . .I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. . .felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain.” He prayed almost without ceasing – probably remembering prayers he’d been taught and adding to them the rejoicings and petitions of a captive who was free in spirit.

The “Lorica,” or “Breastplate,” of St. Patrick has been called “part prayer, part anthem, and part incantation.” It includes these timeless words:

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.

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