I arise today...
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.
The Lorica of Saint Patrick (St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer)
Next week we celebrate Ash Wednesday so we will break from St. Patrick’s prayer for something a little different during Lent and return to these sacred words after Easter. As we wrap up this particular segment of the Breastplate prayer, we essentially arise in the strength of the Great Cloud of Witnesses described in Hebrews 12.
In the ancient Catholic tradition of St. Patrick, these witnesses are broken into several categories, some more familiar than others. Let’s take a quick glance at each of these categories of saints and perhaps even more at the descriptor used of them in this prayer.
I arise today in the prayers of patriarchs…
Here we look back to the earliest saints like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They acted in faith and obedience before there was a church or temple system to follow, before the law was written, and even before the world had any concept that there may only be one God. They were not perfect, but they were the trailblazers of faith who truly knew what it meant to walk with God.
How might we live out their example of faith?
I arise today in the predictions of prophets…
The prophets spoke the words of the Lord and yet were often ignored and even persecuted. They called the people to repentance and to doing the work of mercy and justice for all people.
How might we respond to their voices challenging us today?
I arise in the preaching of apostles…
As we move into the New Testament, we find apostles or “sent ones”, who walked with Jesus and scattered throughout the world to baptize, teach, and make proclaiming the Good News of God’s Kingdom on earth.
How are we continuing in the apostolic witness, proclaiming the good news of Christ and making disciples for the transformation of our world?
I arise in the faith of confessors and in the innocence of holy virgins…
These terms are far less familiar to protestant ears. They generally refer to the Saints of God. Confessors vow their absolute allegiance to Christ even in the midst of great hardship and persecution. Holy virgins refer specifically to the women who took vows that they might be the spouse of Christ alone. In both cases, these are saints who maintained an exceptional degree of holiness and purity and who set themselves apart from the world for the sake of their exclusive service to the Lord.
In what ways do our own faith and purity reflect that of these great saints who have gone before? How are we living holy and innocent lives?
I arise in the deeds of righteous men.
This about sums it all up. Granted, the gender exclusivity is a product of St. Patrick’s time, but the implication is the same. God calls every man, woman and child to a life of righteousness and declares that God’s children will be known by their acts of love. “Faith without works (or deeds) is dead,” James writes (James 2:17).
Will others recognize that we are children of God by our righteous deeds and acts of selfless love?
As we move into this Lenten season, let us consider all of these questions and examine the ways God is strengthening us through the saints. How might the Spirit be using their examples to convict us, to challenge us, and to call us more fully into a holy life?
Be sure to check back on Ash Wednesday for a Lenten video series, something completely different. We will return to St. Patrick’s prayer the Wednesday after Easter. For now, let us continue to arise each day in the faith of that great cloud of witnesses that we might complete the race.
Our journey through St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer continues after Easter.
Check back next week for something completely different. I’m calling it “A Lenten Disturbance.” Be sure to invite others to subscribe to the blog so they can join us in this crazy Lenten journey.
All I’ll say for now is that it involves Hei Hei, the chicken from Disney’s Moana. It’s going to be fun!