The Word from Father Pat: Saint Patrick’s Day

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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.

Saint Patrick, The Lorica (Breastplate) Prayer

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I know it’s the Fifth Sunday of Lent, but I couldn’t resist a wee bit of celebration of the great and holy feast of Saint Patrick!  Certainly I revere Saint Patrick because he’s my patron, but also I revere him because of his steadfast witness to Christ.  Here was a man kidnapped from his native land and brought as a slave to Ireland.  He managed to escape and having done so, thought about nothing else but returning to the land.  He became a priest and returned to Ireland so that he could minister to the people and lead them to Christ.

The role of the saints is to do just that for us: to point the way to Christ.  And Saint Patrick does that well in his Breastplate (or Lorica) prayer, part of which I’ve quoted above.  Some question whether he wrote the prayer himself, but regardless, it was certainly the kind of thing he would write and say, based on his life and his teachings.  I love the recognition of Christ in each person and all around us.  What if we really stopped to think about that on a daily basis?  How would it change the way we speak and act toward our brothers and sisters?

The words of Saint Patrick’s prayer are the essential Lenten discipline.  God is God and we are not.  We need God in very real ways, not just when we are at the end of our ropes, but primarily in the every-dayness of our lives.  We need Christ because every day there is a battle for our souls, and we can’t save them of our own power.  And so Lent calls us to see Christ as Saint Patrick did: before and behind us; above and beneath us; on our right and on our left; in our resting as in our activity; in every person we encounter and most especially in the depths of our own hearts.  Christ is everywhere, filling our lives, beckoning us to repentance, urging us to follow him.

Saint Patrick imitated Christ by giving up the comfort of his life to do the work of Christ.  In doing that, he points the way to Christ for all of us.  We too are called on to give of ourselves, to give up our own needs and wants and desires, to become people who truly live the Gospel in the way we care for others.  We are called to see Christ in every moment and every place.

I celebrate Saint Patrick’s day maybe a little different than is stereotypical.  Yes, I like my corned beef and cabbage (and Grandma’s Irish Soda Bread), but I observe this day as a renewed call to holiness of life, a renewed call to give of myself more deeply in priestly ministry, a renewed call to repentance and dependence on Christ my Savior.  I pray that we might all find Christ in the celebration of this great and holy day!

Yours in Christ and His Blessed Mother, and the glory of Saint Patrick,
Father Pat Mulcahy, Pastor