No matter where we have come from, we can all be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. I have Irish roots myself, and was born into a family filled with Patricks and Patricias. In fact, I chose Patricia as my confirmation name, back in the days when kids picked a saint to accompany them on their Christian journey.
Let’s face it – that journey is not for the faint of heart! Many trials and obstacles can arise, and it’s often too much to handle on our own. We can all use a little help getting through this life in one piece as we try to build God’s kingdom on earth.
St. Patrick, who likely lived in the fifth century, knew this all too well. When he was 16, he was kidnapped from his father’s home in Britain and sold as a slave in Ireland, where he worked as a herdsman. Rather than sending him into despair, his ordeal rekindled his Christian faith. Even after he escaped back to Britain six years later, he nearly starved to death before making his way home.
Most people would have sworn off travel for life at that point, but Patrick felt called to return to Ireland some time later to spread the Gospel. This mission was an amazing success, and his writings offer a fascinating glimpse of the man behind the legends.
The prayer known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate can be a source of strength and courage as we make our way in the world, today and every day. Here’s a rousing part of that timeless prayer:
Christ shield me today
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 everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation.
St. Patrick, pray for us!
–Anne Louise Mahoney, Managing Editor, English books