Why I Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

What if evil hijacked your youth and held you captive for years and years? When escape to a new life was finally achieved, you would vow to stay as far away from your former captors as possible, right?

Well, maybe not.

Maybe you would choose to return and “conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12.21)

Patrick was a sixteen-year-old teenager when he was abducted. There were no milk cartons broadcasting his disappearance, no organizations rescuing young people from human trafficking, no Amber alerts. He was on his own among a fierce pagan people.

He was now a slave, far from home.

In 5th century Ireland.

The land was lush and beautiful. But the people were themselves enslaved to superstition, spirits and fear. Violence was common and life was cheap. In this alien land, Patrick grew up quickly as slave to an Irish Chieftain.

When there was time to be lonely and homesick among his heathen captors, Patrick found solace in God and converted to Christianity. He drew close to Him through nature, silence and prayer. One evening he felt God’s Spirit was prompting him to go to the shore two hundred miles away. There he discovered a boat which he immediately took as God’s provision for his escape.

After six long years he was finally free and able to pursue a new life! With a deepened, faith, he pursued ordination in the church and continued a vital ministry in Roman Britain. But the land that first captured him, now captured his heart.

He longed to return to Ireland. Patrick had become convinced that he was handpicked by God to convert the entire country to Christianity.

Patrick greatly respected nature, but he also wanted the Irish to know that God was the only One worthy of worship. So he used a shamrock to explain the three persons of the Trinity — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit — one stem but three leaves.

Patrick labored in Ireland for thirty years and even though some say he singlehandedly converted Ireland, Patrick preferred to put it this way: “I owe it to God’s grace that so many people should, through me, become Christians.”

He loved the Irish and they loved him back, perpetuating many legends about his life and ministry. When this Briton born as Patricius died at age 75, he was named Patrick, patron saint of Ireland.

And neither Ireland nor Christianity was ever quite the same.

The following prayer is commonly known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate, found in the ancient Book of Armagh, from the early ninth century. Patrick is said to have written this prayer to strengthen himself with God’s protection as he prepared to confront and convert Loegaire, high king of Ireland.

We may not wear combat gear in our daily lives, but St. Patrick’s Breastplate can function as divine armor for protection against spiritual adversity. Where do you need to conquer evil by doing good? Ask God and He will reveal to you His battle plans for your own life.

(Author’s note: Whenever I pray this prayer, I have to stand and raise my right hand as though holding a sword. Then I proclaim with great conviction “I arise today…” I have not condensed it here.)

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

       “I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through a belief in the Threeness, through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation. I arise today through the strength of Christ’s birth and His baptism, through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial, through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension, through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom. I arise today through the strength of the love of cherubim, in obedience of angels, in service of archangels, in the hope of resurrection to meet with reward, in the prayers of patriarchs, in preachings of the apostles, in faiths of confessors, in innocence of virgins, in deeds of righteous men. I arise today through the strength of heaven; light of the sun, splendor of fire, speed of lightning, swiftness of the wind, depth of the sea,  stability of the earth, firmness of the rock. I arise today through 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 hosts to save me from snares of the devil,  from temptations of vices,  from everyone who desires me ill, afar and anear,  alone or in a multitude. I summon today All these powers between me and those evils, Against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose my body and soul, Against incantations of false prophets, Against black laws of pagandom, Against false laws of heretics, Against craft of idolatry, Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards, Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul; Christ to shield me today Against poison, against burning, Against drowning, against wounding, So that there may come to me an abundance of reward. 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 in the heart of every man who thinks of me,  Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me, Christ in the eye that sees me,  Christ in the ear that hears me. I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through a belief in the Threeness, through a confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation. Amen.”    Patrick of Ireland (390-461)

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2020 Lucinda Secrest McDowell      www.LucindaSecrestMcDowell.com

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  1. Laura on March 13, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    Thanks for your post about St. Patrick. More need to be aware of his story and strong Christian faith. I’ve written about it too – and mention 2 books about him in this post: https://lightenough.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/st-patricks-day/

    • Lucinda Secrest McDowell on March 11, 2020 at 4:13 pm

      Thank you Laura, I shall look forward to reading your words as well.

  2. thornrose7 on March 13, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    Wow! Totally awesome! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    • Lucinda Secrest McDowell on March 11, 2020 at 4:13 pm

      You are so welcome. I love his prayer don’t you?

  3. Lillian Morley on March 11, 2020 at 11:24 am

    Blessed by this devotional today. Sent it on to a dear Catholic Irish friend. It will surely bless him and his family.

    • Lucinda Secrest McDowell on March 11, 2020 at 4:12 pm

      Oh thank you for sharing, Lillian. I too pray it will be an encouragement to all who read it.

  4. Ellie Gustafson on March 11, 2020 at 12:45 pm

    A great man. Too bad his holiday now has far different connotations than his life exhibited.

    • Lucinda Secrest McDowell on March 11, 2020 at 4:12 pm

      Unfortunately, the world easily takes what it wants and twists or ignores true origins sometimes. That’s why we tell the stories.

  5. Carol Stratton on March 11, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    Loved this piece. Thank you for giving us a better understanding of this man of God.

    • Lucinda Secrest McDowell on March 11, 2020 at 4:11 pm

      You are so welcome. Knowing this has certainly changed my view of the holiday. I LOVE the prayer.

  6. Cathy Gohlke on March 11, 2020 at 1:59 pm

    I am again blessed by your words this day, Lucinda–and those of St. Patrick. Thank you!

    • Lucinda Secrest McDowell on March 11, 2020 at 4:11 pm

      I know you also love his amazing life story. Blessings!

  7. Patricia E. Langley on March 11, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    So Interesting> Didn’t know that about St. Patrick. Thank you for writing this, Lucinda.

    • Lucinda Secrest McDowell on March 11, 2020 at 4:10 pm

      You are so welcome! I love to share this true story.

      • Becky Puntigam on March 12, 2020 at 6:43 am

        Thanks Cindy. St. Patrick’s challenges certainly did not defeat him. I love his prayer.The reassurance that God is within us and outside us surrounding ones whole being is such a reminder of his constant presence of sustain us .s

        • Lucinda Secrest McDowell on March 16, 2020 at 7:09 pm

          Great to hear from you, Becky. Praying for yall in Seattle. love you.

  8. Barbara Paczkowski on March 11, 2020 at 8:03 pm

    Thank you for posting this. Such a beautiful prayer, I had never heard of it before.

    • Lucinda Secrest McDowell on March 16, 2020 at 7:09 pm

      So glad you like it. Take care.

  9. Carlene on March 16, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    Thank you for sharing the story! Here’s the hymn version of the prayer, which I often use. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dWdZ13cH5lU

    • Lucinda Secrest McDowell on March 16, 2020 at 7:08 pm

      Thanks Carlene, I love this hymn too.

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