It is St. Patrick's Day, and since an eighth of me is Irish, I should be ready to celebrate! St. Patrick may be the patron saint of Ireland, but he is also the inspiration for Celtic spirituality. With that in mind, Bruce Epperly has provided a brief essay that shares with us some of St. Patrick's own Prayer. May your St. Patrick's Day not only be green, but blessed as well.
St. Patrick’s Adventurous Prayer
Life is adventurous and filled with surprises, whether or not we seek them out. According to legend, Celtic missionaries set off on voyages, without a rudder for steering, in order to find their place of resurrection, the place where they would experience God’s calling for their lives. They trusted God’s movements in the winds and waves.
St. Patrick shared that same adventurous spirit as he spread the good news of Jesus as Healer and Savior. Like Columba, he used the language of druid religion. Celtic Christians often described Christ as their “druid,” teacher, guide, and healer.
As legend has it, Patrick was being pursued by a local chieftain, who was planning to capture and kill him. Just as the chieftain’s troops were bearing down on him, Patrick disappeared. All they saw was a deer bounding across the pathway. God was at work, Patrick believed, in providing him shelter along with insight for the journey.
In the spirit of Patrick, Celtic Christians often rotate in a clockwise direction, drawing a circle around themselves whenever they left on a journey, whether across the neighborhood or into unknown lands. They recognized the adventure of each day, and their need for God’s guidance and protection. I use the prayer of St. Patrick, along with the Celtic caim, or encircling prayer, whenever I feel anxious or at risk. If you are in a public place or hospitalized, you may say this prayer in your imagination.
Here are some of the words of Patrick’s “Breastplate” or “Lorica.” Take them as a companion on today’s adventures.
I arise todayThrough a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,Through the belief in the threeness,Through confession of the onenessOf the Creator of Creation.
I arise todayThrough 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 todayThrough 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.
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 todayThrough a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,Through belief in the threeness,Through confession of the oneness,Of the Creator of Creation.
On this St. Patrick’s season, embrace God’s circle of care and inspiration. You are always in the dynamic circle of divine adventure. Your life is a holy adventure in companionship with an adventurous God.
Bruce Epperly is a theologian, spiritual guide, healing companion, retreat leader and lecturer, and author of nineteen books, including Holy Adventure: 41 Days of Audacious Living; God’s Touch: Faith, Wholeness, and the Healing Miracles of Jesus; and Tending to the Holy: The Practice of the Presence of God in Ministry. He has taught at Georgetown University, Wesley Theological Seminary, Claremont School of Theology, and Lancaster Theological Seminary. He is currently theologian in residence at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He can be reached for lectures, seminars, retreats, or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org