Wednesday, March 17, 2010
The reverence that Catholics show to Saints is often misunderstood. The true role of the Saints in the Church is to inspire us to love and serve God. They show, by their good example, how to follow Jesus more closely. While all Christians are saints, all of us trying to follow God in our personal journeys, some do so in an exemplary way. It seems simple to me to recognize that if we honor those who excel in other areas, honoring those who live an exceptional Christian life is no different. We accept role models for sports, business, authors, etc. We give awards and accolades for many accomplishments. In this same, but perhaps more significant spirit, the Catholic Church honors those who exemplify the Christian life. Some move us more than others. The Saints come in every shape and color and can teach us. As a Catholic Christian, my own fondness for some Saints more than others is personal. The Saints have personalities unique to them and are no different than any of us, except in the firmness of their resolve to do good. I love them for their flaws and their successes because their humanity both comforts and inspires me.
My father's family was Irish. His grandfather immigrated to the United States from County Mayo in 1874 with his wife, and they raised a large family which included my own grandfather and many great aunts and uncles. My father had a strong connection with his Irish roots, and this was passed on to us. Included in this was an appreciation for St. Patrick. From the time I was in Jr. High School, I recall a small statue of St. Patrick in our living room where it was an important reminder of the Saint's positive influence on the Irish people.
I have this same statue now in our home, along with a small reproduction of an icon bearing the image of St. Patrick. I have tried to impress upon my children the value of our Irish roots.
For a brief history of St. Patrick himself, you can click on the image above or below.
For whatever it is worth, I personally have felt a closeness with the rural countryside of Ireland and have a temperament that can be described as Irish... friendly and fun loving while introverted and melancholy at the same time.
The prayer of St. Patrick, including "The Deer Cry" cited below, is a powerful acclamation of our intention to follow God each day, and to do so, strengthened by Him. So for the feast of St. Patrick, I share this prayer today:
"I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the Threeness, through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.
I arise today through the strength of Christ with his Baptism, through the strength of His Crucifixion with His Burial through the strength of His Resurrection with 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 the service of the Archangels, in hope of resurrection to meet with reward, in prayers of Patriarchs, in predictions of Prophets, in preachings of Apostles, in faiths of Confessors, in innocence of Holy Virgins, in deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through the strength of Heaven; light of Sun, brilliance of Moon, splendor of Fire, speed of Lightning, swiftness of Wind, depth of Sea, stability of Earth, firmness of 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 host to secure me: against snares of devils, against temptations of vices, against inclinations of nature, against everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and anear, alone and in a crowd.
I summon today all these powers between me (and these evils): against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose my body and my soul, against incantations of false prophets, against black laws of heathenry, against false laws of heretics, against craft of idolatry, against spells of witches, smiths and wizards, against every knowledge that endangers man's body and soul. Christ to protect me today against poisoning, against burning, against drowning, against wounding, so that there may come abundance in 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 in breadth, Christ in length, Christ in height, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the Threeness, through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation. Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is of Christ. May Thy Salvation, O Lord, be ever with us. Amen."