St Patrick's Breastplate & Lent

Reposted from 2007

It is not what thou art, nor what thou hast been, that God looks upon with his merciful eyes, but what thou wouldst be.
The Cloud of Unknowing.

Keep before your own eyes that which you would wish to be.
Don’t be distracted by what other people are, but keep focused as much as possible, on your own soul. We all have regrets. We all wish we’d not done some things in our lives (many things, in my case). We all have things we hate about ourselves.

But we were all born for a purpose and with a potentiality. Think of the person you want to be – keep that person before your eyes – that’s the person God sees, even when you feel submerged in your sins, and irretreivable.

Maybe, even, ask Jesus to stand between you and all you have been
, to stand between you and all you would be. Surrounded by Christ, things can only get better. I learned that from a police officer who told me he prayed, whenever he entered a dangerously unstable situation, such as a domestic dispute, that Jesus would stand between him and those to whom he was responding, that Christ would stand between each family member and their worst instincts. It was a powerful witness to me.

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 fo Christ the Lord.
– from St. Patrick’s Breastplate.

From Ireland, Thank you, America!

Then, turning a corner, there it was: the Statue of Liberty stood graceful in the blue distance. This immense figure was the first sight seen by millions of Irish immigrants who had never before beheld a structure more than thirty feet tall. Yet here, after many hard weeks at sea, they were met by a benevolent colossus which proclaimed that salvation was at hand, and that a new future free of tyranny and poverty was possible.

That’s when it happened. I was drowned in wave of emotion. At first, I struggled to identify this overwhelming emotion. It was more than mere sadness, but what was it?

As my wife and I embraced, all around us pulsed this extraordinary nation: a vast new country that has given millions of the Earth’s poor a new life. Then I recognized what this overpowering feeling was: gratitude. Tears of pure gratitude for all of them, the Irish, and all the other peoples: a million human dramas unknown, all swept up from despair into the arms of America.

The Irish Famine Memorial, a Half-acre of Ireland in NYC.

A little Irish kid tells the Story of St. Patrick. Part of Give Up Yer Aul Sins.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Frank McLaughlin

    I sent the message below to my 11 children, my six siblings and my 38 nieces and nephews,and my BC colleagues this morning. I thought you might be interested, and I extend the greeting to you and yours.

    Beannacht libh La Feile Padraic. (Blessings with you all on the Feast of Patrick!).

    Patrick was designated the Patron of Boston College at its founding.

    I omitted the long marks over the a in La, the first e in Feile, and the first a in Padraic because I don’t know how to add them.

    The a with the long mark over it gives the a the sound of aw as in the English word law, and the e with the long mark has the sound of ay as
    in the English word say, and the bh in libh is pronounced as a v, and the d in Padraic as a w with the i silent.

    Proinnsias MacLochlainn (Francis the son of Laughlin), agus Clar Bean Mhic Lochlainn (Clare the wife of the son of Laughlin)

  • TJ

    Thank you for the link to the Prayers of St Patrick. As a former Evangelical and present-day Eastern Orthodox, I have known all along that (in theory …) St Paddy’s day is about a real-life saint. But the prayers and links on your posting today put flesh to the idea.

  • Frank McLaughlin

    Excuse my error in my previous post. It’s the second a in Padraic that is silent, not the i. The a is just there to fulfill the rule in Irish spelling that a broad vowel before a consonant must be followed by a broad vowel after the consonant, and the same rule applies to slender vowels (a,o, and u are broad vowels, and i and e are slender vowels).

  • Andrew B

    I think the Irish Famine is one of the most profoundly moving public spaces in America. I was especially impressed that it is simply allowed to BE. No heavy messages, no interactive kiosks, no touch-screen messages from Bono. When I visited, it was a cold, bleak March day, and I was completely alone for the duration of my visit. It is an extraordinary place, and one that everyone visiting New York should see.

  • Andrew B

    Oops. In the above comment, I meant to say “Irish Famine MONUMENT”. I can’t even blame the drink, as I haven’t had any.


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