Calling on Christ: Pray St. Patrick’s Breastplate While Sacraments Unavailable

As we endure this time without sacraments — a time which may make even Holy Week and Easter unavailable to many of us in the United States and elsewhere, today’s feast of Saint Patrick should give us heart and hope. Patrick, of course, was the great Missionary to Ireland who became a Christian while a slave in captivity on that island — with no sacraments to attract him to faith or sustain him. As such he seems the perfect saint for us to turn to while we are pining for Mass, for Holy Communion, for Confession and Anointing and so much more that has now become remote from us.

I’m seeing people on social media decrying our situation and saying “these things are all I have…” Well, I get the point, but God is not “gone” from our midst. He is here, a spiritual being completely available to us spiritual beings if we call on him and then seek him out in perhaps different ways. I’m really impressed with some young pastors finding creative ways to keep the Blessed Sacrament before our eyes — some are doing processions in parish neighborhoods; some are setting up Adoration in a front or side church door, permitting people to adore from a “social distance.”

These things are helpful and good. But there are other ways to feed yourself spiritually right now. Obviously, the rosary and making a spiritual communion are two ways. Also, take the good idea from Lisa Hendey and use Alexa or something similar to connect with others and pray together (or, as she does, use it to pray with your elderly family…)

Use social media to create prayer communities however you can. I absolutely love what Leah Libresco Sargeant is doing today on Twitter; she is inviting people to video themselves praying a portion of St. Patrick’s Breastplate, so she can put it together. I can’t wait to watch it, and pray with it and them.

In fact, I am really thinking that Patrick’s remarkable and mystical prayer is perfect for the situation we are in, particularly if you, like some, are feeling that Christ is not close enough to you, for it is a prayer that invites Christ to be all around you.

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place…” – Ephesians 6:11-14

The Lorica of St. Patrick (also called St. Patrick’s “breastplate”) seems the perfect prayer to use in response to Paul’s exhortation:

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.

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 the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
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.

I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The 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 shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.

I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and 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 an 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.

[Note that some people pray only the italicized portion of the Lorica, followed by the concluding lines]

By the way, there is a new feature film out about Patrick that will be showing up on Netflix and looks worth watching.

Also this.

Image Peter Gavigan, May 2007, Creative Commons source


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