Christ be 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 inquired, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.St. Patrick
Here’s a fun fact about the patron Saint of Ireland: St. Patrick wasn’t Irish!
Most likely from Great Britain, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish pirates when he was a teenager. In Ireland, which was a pagan country at the time, Patrick was enslaved as a shepherd for six years. While he endured cold and hunger, he turned to God and prayed unceasingly. According to his autobiography, St. Patrick prayed one hundred prayers every day, which helped him to forget his suffering.
Eventually, Patrick escaped from Ireland. Upon returning home, he studied to become a priest, and he was ordained a bishop when he was 43. Patrick had an unshakable desire to bring the Gospel to his brothers and sisters in Christ in Ireland. He didn’t move on and forget all about Ireland after his liberation. Instead, he acted on God’s call to return and evangelize.
As Patrick responded to this call to holiness and action, he converted countless people, ordained priests, and established dioceses in Ireland. He’s known for using the image of a shamrock to explain the mystery of the holy trinity. The three leaves of a shamrock represent the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but the stem that they share reminds us that they’re one.
The hardships that we face are meant to strengthen us. During our suffering and struggles, we should look outside of ourselves and seek God as St. Patrick did. As we grow closer to him, we receive his grace and learn the reason behind our suffering. When we lean on the Lord, he doesn’t excuse us from our suffering, but he makes it becomes redemptive for us and for others. If St. Patrick had never gone to Ireland and encountered its people, would he have went there to share the Gospel? St. Patrick’s suffering was necessary not only for his own sanctification, but also for the salvation of an entire nation.
Right now, nations throughout the world are suffering due to the Coronavirus, but like St. Patrick, we can turn towards God instead of focusing on what we can’t do now. We can pray for those affected by the virus and do little acts of service for our neighbors. These circumstances are dark, but they’ll make us holy and they can even make us Saints if we respond to God’s call to action.
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The Breastplate is a prayer by St. Patrick that I quoted at the beginning of this post. It helps us to deepen our trust in God. It reminds us that Christ always surrounds us. We should remember his constant presence especially in difficult moments. I plan to pray The Breastplate for the rest of the month to remind myself to depend on Christ. It can be difficult to feel Christ’s presence during our moments of suffering, but in reality, Christ is always beside me and you.
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