Hear from Daniel Norris as he reflects on an ancient Celtic hymn as we celebrate the feast day of Saint Patrick.
This week we celebrate the feast day of Saint Patrick.
The ancient Celtic hymn known as Saint Patrick’s Breastplate, attributed to Saint Patrick himself, begins, ‘I bind unto myself today, the Strong Name of the Trinity’. This hymn is a morning celebration, a chorus of confidence as we get ready to meet the challenges of each new day and seeks to remind us of the protection and defence that is afforded to us by Christ incarnate who is with, behind, before, besides, above, below and within us.
Today is never just a repetition of yesterday. Each new morning is a fresh beginning as we embark once again upon an unknown path with its opportunities, possibilities, challenges and dangers. Whether we greet the new day with enthusiastic excitement, anxiety and fear or ambivalence, the Christian pilgrim is reminded that we do not travel alone and we do not travel unequipped. We are encircled and caught up in the everlasting love of God the Trinity who dances in creation.
Paul writing to the Ephesians encouraged pilgrims to ‘put on the full amour of God’. With a belt of truth, a breastplate of righteousness, shoes ready to proclaim peace, a shield of faith, a helmet of salvation and the word of God as a sword, the Christian pilgrim has everything that they need to feel secure in meeting the challenges of the day – a vast range of resources that are ready for our use as we set out on our daily pilgrimage.
How do you prepare for each day? Are you able to take some time, however short, to invoke the Strong Name of the Trinity? To dedicate the day ahead to God, creator of the universe and to be present to God’s presence with you and in creation?
As we journey through the season of Lent and we face the current reality of war in Europe, perhaps this ancient hymn of St Patrick can remind us of the eternal truth of the width, depth and breadth of the love that God has for the whole of creation, a love that binds itself to creation and invites us to be held. Whether the coming day requires us to be alone or together, to work or to rest, to fight or defend, to travel or flee, to welcome or host, to live or to die, we can do so in the strength, love and peace of God who is Creator, Christ and Holy Spirit.
May the prayer of St Patrick be ours today.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone 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.