March 17, 2012
Christ be 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 where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Salvation is of the Lord,
Salvation is of the Christ,
May your salvation, O Lord, be ever with me.
The above prayer is the most famous verse of St. Patrick’s Breastplate. It is of course, attributed to St. Patrick whom we venerate today through a bizarre combination of wearing green and drinking beer (probably neither of which were very important to the fifth-century missionary to Ireland). Read through the words one more time. It is a wonderful meditation on how God is with us and near us everywhere. It is also a sobering prayer for the people we encounter to tolerate us through the love of Christ. Finally it recalls the blessing of salvation that comes to us through God.
Now read it again and really dwell on each phrase. I think that if we pray this slowly enough, we can experience a truly heighted awareness of the vastness of God and God’s love for us. God is in every fiber of us, everywhere, always. There are no limitations to God. When we feel lost, God is there. When we are tired, God is there. When we are angry, lonely, rejoicing, or drinking green beer – God is there. Every moment of every day. God’s love for us never ends. If we are lucky when we interact with other people, they will be aware of God in both them and us, and as a result treat us with a certain divine dignity. The flip side to that of course is that we must challenge ourselves to see God dwelling in others and offer them a grace that would otherwise be hard to muster.
God be with you. We say that like a blessing or wish, like “have a good night”. However, it is a fact. God is with you. Recognize God with you today. Recognize God in others today. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!