Patrick and the Power of Positive Confession

Today is the feast of the best known Welsh saint, Patrick. St Patrick was captured and taken into slavery by some Irish raiders. As a result, there is now a campaign by Welsh-Irishpersons to get reparations from the Oireachtas. They are awaiting an apology from the Taoiseach. No, wait, I got the story mixed up with something else. . .

Actually, after St Patrick escaped and returned to Wales, he received Holy Orders and returned as a missionary to Ireland. He did the usual missionary bishop stuff, like preaching the Gospel, converting kings, baptising lots o’ people, performing a few miracles – you know the routine. He also did some writing.

Only two authentic written works by St Patrick survive. His Confessio is what evangelicals might call his testimony. He recounts who he is and what God has done in his life.

His Epistola is also called the Address to the Soldiers of Coroticus. These were Roman soldiers who had at one time declared their faith in Christ, but who had turned to raiding and enslaving other Christians. In some ways it has the flavour of a Pauline or early Patristic epistle, in that it has both a specific and general audience. At various points, St Patrick addresses the soldiers, Christians in general, the captives, and God.

The most popular work attributed to St Patrick and consistent with his theology, but most likely 7th or 8th century in origin, is the Lorica. It reminds me of the spiritual warfare prayer we used in the early 1980s. I spent my formative years in a tradition that generally eschews written prayers, but for a while there was a spiritual warfare prayer printed in tract form that was all the rage. Looking back, I’m not sure why it was okay to read that prayer and really mean it from the heart and not others.

Anyhow, as best I recall, the spiritual warfare prayer gave some attention to the armour of God, as described in Ephesians 6. I mention this because “lorica” is Latin for “breastplate”. The Lorica is not actually a prayer, per se, but more of an affirmation, or a declaration, or to use the terminology of my youth, a positive confession. As I read it again, I realised that it is a verbalisation of the sign of the Cross that as Orthodox Christians we make at various times of the day for various reasons including any invocation of the Trinity.

Most of my small contingent of faithful readers with probably be familiar with the text of the Lorica, in one or more of several variations. For those who otherwise wander in and may not be familar, this is a version which I can invoke with confidence. I just need to remember to do it more often.

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 every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes 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 women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

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

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