I arise today, through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity…
The Lorica of Saint Patrick (St. Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer)
Welcome to the first step of our year long journey through the Lorica of Saint Patrick or “The Deer’s Cry”. While most likely not written by the great saint of Ireland, this prayer for protection reflects the rich tradition of early Celtic Christianity.
In the summer of 2016, the week following my Ordination, I went on a spiritual pilgrimage through Ireland with Dr. Reg Johnson who had served as my spiritual director in seminary. My heart has long been stirred by the art, music, and rich spiritual traditions from this “Land of Saints and Scholars” and the early Celtic Saints, but until this pilgrimage, I knew very little about them.
Interestingly enough, I still know very little about them, but only because there is so little recorded and what sources we do have are blurred between fact and myth or legend. The legends of the saints are fascinating and no doubt reflect the miraculous, larger than life impact these Godly men and women had on the ancient people of Ireland.
Every morning on that pilgrimage, we prayed portions of St. Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer, or “The Lorica of St. Patrick.” It is a prayer not for direction or answers, at least not to the kinds of questions I was asking about God’s next steps for my life. Rather, this is a prayer of “Being.” That is, it is about a way of being fully present with God and surrendering ourselves to full reliance on God each day, no matter where the path may lead.
Beginning with the refrain, “I arise today,” or “I bind unto myself today,” this prayer invites us to follow the leading of the Apostle Paul when he calls us to “put on the full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-18). In praying this prayer, we call upon the Triune God as our source of strength for every moment of every day, and we reflect on the numerous means God uses to shield us and guide us as we seek to remain faithful in the midst of evil and temptation.
While belief and knowledge are vital to our faith, I am discovering that following Jesus is more about a way of being than a way of thinking. It is about being perfected in love and this requires not merely that we gain more knowledge or greater achievements, but that we learn to live in peace with God, with one another, and even with ourselves despite the divisive and seemingly impossible chasms we so often fear to cross.
Following Jesus is more about a way of being than a way of thinking.
Entering 2019, may we seek to “arise each day” with the Light of Christ upon our paths, to “bind unto ourselves” each day the gifts and the power of the Holy Spirit, and to become ever more dependent on the strength and love of the Mighty Three-One God.
What do you think about the statement, “Following Jesus is more about a way of being than a way of thinking?”
What is your first instinct when you arise each day? What is the first thought that comes to your mind?
How might your day look different if you began by calling upon the mighty strength of God?
Our journey through St. Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer continues next week:
…Through belief in the Threeness, through confession of the Oneness, of the Creator of creation…