Saturday, March 15, 2008

Patrick's Lorica

Monday is St. Patrick's day, and the day has been thoroughly Americanized. The average citizen associates this hero of the Christian faith with drunken orgies, leprechauns and "the wearin' o' the green." In reality, Patrick was a stalwart believer who challenged Druidism in Ireland and championed the cause of Trinitarianism in the Church.
Patrick Friend explains the significance of the hymn known as "The Lorica" or "Breastplate of St. Patrick":

There is a beautiful prayer that legend says was written by St. Patrick himself. As the story goes, he suspected an ambush while he was on the way to meet King Laoghaire. He said the prayer, known today as St. Patrick's Breastplate, the Lorica, or the Deer's Cry, and as the soldiers lay in wait Patrick and his companions passed by but all the soldiers saw were deer! (source: All About Irish)

A lorica is meant to protect its wearer from harm, like a breastplate. As the Druids used magical incantations to call upon the powers of Nature, Patrick invokes the name of the Triune God and claims all the phenomena of nature for his armor because God created them.

May you, Christian Martialist, be imbued with the faith and love of the truth that marked the spirit of Patrick, evangelist of the Scoti. Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Breastplate of St. Patrick

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Words: Translated from the Gaelic by Cecil Frances Humphreys Alexander, 1889.
Music: "St. Patrick" Charles Villiers Stanford, 1902

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