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Remembering Patrick

19 Mar Spiritual Formation | Comments Off on Remembering Patrick
Remembering Patrick

A Slave Turned Missionary

In 401 AD, a young man named Patricius was captured and taken as a slave to Ireland. It also happened to be the same year that another young man named Augustine published his book Confessions. Patricius would spend the next six years in extreme poverty, hunger, and isolation as a slave-shepherd amongst the tribes of Ireland. He somehow managed to flee and escape back to his native Roman Britain. He would later say of those days spent in isolation, “Tending flocks was my daily work, and I would pray constantly during the daylight hours. The love of God and the fear of Him surrounded me more and more.”

After some harrowing adventures, Patricius was finally able to make it back to his homeland. Safely home and reunited with his parents, Patricius experienced a dream one night in which he was handed a letter entitled Vox Hiberionacum (“The Voice of the Irish”) and as he describes it was immediately “stabbed in the heart” at the thought of his former captors not knowing the Good News of Christ. The unthinkable desire to return began to grow in his heart as he became captivated by this vision. Patricius soon made his way to Gaul in France to be educated and commissioned as a missionary to the Irish.

He would spend the rest of his life in Ireland, preaching the gospel, establishing monasteries, and confronting the evil of slavery. And as author Thomas Cahill observes, “Within his lifetime or soon after his death, the Irish slave trade came to a halt, and other forms of violence, such as murder and intertribal warfare, decreased.” His most lasting impact may in fact be his relentless hope for people to be radically transformed by the gospel – “that even slave traders can turn into liberators, even murders can act as peacemakers, even barbarians can take their place among the nobility of heaven.”

So on a holiday marked with shamrock shakes and four leaf clovers, let’s not forget the witness of a Christian brother who has gone on before us. Here’s a prayer from Patrick for today.

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

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.

Aaron Brown
Professor of Student Min at Lancaster Bible College
Aaron Brown is an Assistant Professor of Student Ministry at Lancaster Bible College in Lancaster, PA. He attended Biola University and Talbot School of Theology. Before coming to LBC, he was the Sr. High Director at Living Word Community Church in Red Lion, PA. Aaron serves as the Project's editor and web guy.