Strength and Solace Found in the Blessing of St. Patrick
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
– Saint Patrick’s Breastplate
By CYNTHIA WALLENTINE
A new season nears. On March 20 at 4:21 PM PST, the vernal equinox begins our spring and points to a midway point between Imbolg, February 1 and the Celtic summer beginning on Beltaine, on May 1.
The spring festivals herald birth – of lambs, love, and a flush of green finery to the landscape. But while birth is a joyous occasion, it too brings perilous moments.
Everything is born of process – human, idea, event. Emergence is often fraught with trouble, either in giving birth, or being brought forth. As one nears the treasure of great value, the road steepens, the legs begin to stiffen. To become requires a leap of faith.
Maewyn Succat was a simple countryman by his own account, born around 390 AD in the British Isles. His life was not notable until kidnapped into slavery in Ireland.
Escaping his captors after six years imprisonment, Maewyn returned to Ireland to serve the Christian ministry. Along the way, Maewyn Succat disappeared into the mythic Saint Patrick.
The legends of Saint Patrick are well known and loved, as well should they be. Less known, the personal trials of Maewyn Succat provide inspiration to our day – for the strength, solace, and guidance that prayer gave an isolated man who daily expected murder or reduction to slavery – and can still comfort those facing their own trials today.
The Lorica of St. Patrick is both Christian hymn and incantation for help. In recounting the presence of the divine, the hymn invokes protection within, protection without, protection above and below.
When the seemingly small distance between here, and there, looks insurmountable, when logic, reason, and fairness, fail or falter, remember the power of prayer – the good wishes, thoughts, and still moments found in your heart, and the compassionate hearts of those that love you.
Though we sometimes question the power or presence of prayer, it is the ineffable energy present within, and without, above and below, in ourselves, and in others, that provides rock solid help in moving us from here, to there, from birth process to emergence.
On St. Patrick’s Day, on the vernal equinox, and throughout each day and each year, have faith that the most powerful forces in our lives are rarely seen, only felt. Blessed Be.