St. Patrick’s Day is a widely observed celebration, though secular society has transformed the ways in which it is commemorated. While the real meaning of the day is often forgotten in pop culture, it’s important to go back to the roots of what it’s really about: the remembrance of St. Patrick, a man credited with following God’s call and helping bolster the Christian faith in Ireland.
St Patrick's Day History
St. Patrick’s life is actually somewhat of a mystery, though we know he was born in Britain in the late fourth century; he is believed to have died on March 17 around the year 460 A.D., according to History. But why do we celebrate St. Patrick's day? Keep reading to find out.
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The wisdom of God came to take form in St. Patrick’s life after he was pushed into slavery by Irish raiders when he was just 16 years old. It was during the subsequent years that he started to turn to the Christian faith, embracing the Holy Spirit in his life.
He eventually escaped captivity and reunited with his family before receiving the call to get religious education and then return to Ireland to share his faith — a calling he listened to.
St. Patrick’s life, at its core, offers a lesson about the importance of listening to the hand of God and following the Holy Spirit no matter what we’re told. And that's the true meaning of St. Patrick's Day: a reminder to listen to God's calling in our lives.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:33-34 (NIV)
Prayers of St. Patrick
St. Patrick’s Day is often more associated with the secular elements that the holiday represents today — celebrations that have little to nothing to do with God, the Bible or the Christian faith.
But let’s take a look at some important prayers of St. Patrick worth considering as people — both Catholic and Protestant — remember the life of a man who heeded God’s call to spread the message about Jesus Christ.
Saint Patrick’s Breastplate - A St. Patrick’s Day Prayer
A popular prayer attributed to St. Patrick is known as “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate.” Here is the text of the invocation:
“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's birth 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 the obedience of angels, In the service of archangels, In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward, In the prayers of patriarchs, In the predictions of prophets, In the preaching of apostles, In the faith of confessors, In the innocence of holy virgins, In the deeds of righteous men. I arise today, through The strength of heaven, The light of the sun, The radiance of the moon, The splendor of fire, The speed of lightning, The swiftness of wind, The depth of the sea, The stability of the earth, The 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 shield to protect me, God's host to save me From snares of devils, From temptation of vices, From everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and near. 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 when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone 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."
5 Lessons We Can Learn from this St. Patrick’s Prayer
We Rise Each Day Through the Strength of God
“St. Patrick’s Breastplate” reminds us that we can find strength in God each day as we rise up and confront what’s ahead. There are days when we feel weak, but the divine power of God can always sustain us. Following the Bible and clinging to the Lord through prayer is essential. This is a good reminder of the meaning of St. Patrick's Day that you can carry into the rest of the year.
God Can “Pilot” Our Lives
It’s also important to remember that God wants to be the “pilot” of our lives. He wants to guide us and help us grow into the people He’d like us to be. Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for us is so monumental and important, and turning our lives over to God frees us by allowing us to be the people He wants us to be — people who allow the hand of God to rule our lives.
God’s Wisdom is What Matters Most
The world will often sell us a changing “wisdom” that is ironically anything but prudent. But God’s wisdom never changes, serving as a timeless guide. This reality is true for all Christians.
This popular prayer, which is commemorated each year by the Irish, helps us remember the wisdom of God and the power that the Holy Spirit possesses to keep us in line with God’s will for our lives.
God Can Offer Us Protection From Others
“St. Patrick’s Breastplate” also reminds us that “God's hand” holds the power to guard and shield us from others who might wish to harm us. We can pray for God’s protection as well as His will in our lives.
God Can Offer Us Protection From Temptation and Evil
Perhaps the most important element of “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” is the idea that God can save humanity from “snares of devils” and from the temptations and vices that often plague us. When we struggle, it is important to go to God and to ask Jesus and the Holy Spirit for guidance.
St. Patrick’s prayer can certainly offer us much to think about. His timeless message — written more than 1,500 years ago — reminds us that God’s truth never changes.
You can learn more about St. Patrick and the Christian faith in Ireland by watching “My Journey To Life: On The Trail Of Celtic Saints” right now on Pure Flix.