Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Breastplate

Sorry to trample on your post about St. Patrick, but I must post this.
The great hymn: St. Patrick's Breastplate. Watch and listen to this five minute video and be sure to turn up the volume. You can thank Anthony, because he introduced me to it about a year ago, when we were roommates. This hymn is rarely sung anymore in the Catholic Church, in fact, you won't find it in most Catholic hymnals. It is sung much more in the Anglican Church these days. It is sad, but at least someone is singing it.

Here is what is written by the person who originally posted this on youtube (not my words):

Saint Patrick's Breastplate is a Christian hymn whose original Old Irish lyrics were traditionally attributed to Saint Patrick.

The words were translated into English verse by Cecil Frances Alexander in 1889 and set to two traditional Irish tunes, "St. Patrick" and "Deirdre".The hymn, also known by its opening line "I bind unto myself today", is currently included in the English Hymnal, the Irish Church Hymnal and The Hymnal (1982) of the U.S. Episcopal Church. It is often sung during the celebration of the Feast of Saint Patrick on or near March 17, as well as on Trinity Sunday.

The pictures show the architectural history of St Patrick's (RC) Cathedral, Armagh which was begun under the primacy of Archbishop Crolly in 1839; changed in style under Archbishop Dixon; completed externally under Archbishop McGettigan; adorned internally in 1904 by Cardinal Logue; brutally re-ordered under Cardinal O'Faich in 1982 and re-interpreted and restored under Cardinal Brady in 2003.
I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever,
by power of faith, Christ's Incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom:
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself today
the power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, his might to stay,
His ear to hearken, to my need;
the wisdom of my God to teach,
his hand to guide, his shield to ward;
the word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Christ be with me,
Christ 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 in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of
all that love me,
Christ in mouth of
friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.

St. Patrick, pray for us.

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 . . .
Read the rest of the prayer attributed to St. Patrick [and called "St. Patrick's Breastplate"] here.

Image credit (& interesting article)

With no time to write a longer post, I outsource the hymn, "Hail, Glorious St. Patrick," to the late Irish tenor, Frank Patterson.

And, yes, I am wearing green today. And I've advised my Protestant friends, as they value my friendship, not to wear orange. Being relatively peaceable and having read some history with me over the years, they kindly complied. No injuries.
From Ireland's troubled history comes this (and many another) reflection on religious and political freedom:

You may take a shamrock from your hat and cast it on the sod,
It will take root and flourish there though underfoot it's trod.
When law can stop the blades of grass from growin' as they grow,
And when the leaves in summer-time their verdure dare not show,
Then will I change the colour, too, I wear in my caubeen
But 'till that day, please God, I'll stick to wearin' o' the Green.

Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Praying in Lent (1)

Apologies for a rather disjointed post. Firstly, here is the quote I promised last time from the Rule of St. Benedict (chapter 49, on the observance of Lent)

"During these days, therefore, let us increase somewhat the usual burden of our service, as by private prayers and by abstinence in food and drink. Thus everyone of his own will may offer God "with joy of the Holy Spirit" (1 Thess. 1:6) something above the measure required of him. From his body, that is he may withhold some food, drink, sleep, talking and jesting; and with the joy of spiritual desire he may look forward to holy Easter."

The immediate context admonishes each monk to obtain the blessing and approval of his abbot before undertaking such things on his own: "For anything done without the permission of the spiritual father will be imputed to presumption and vainglory and will merit no reward." This and other posts will include optional private devotions (as the last post touched on Lenten reading); even outside the monastic context, though, St. Benedict's words can remind us not to plunge recklessly into our own Lenten agenda, but to seek the advice of a spiritual director.

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Praying for Light. We're one week into Lent. This is traditionally Ember Wednesday; from today's Mass propers comes one of my favorite short prayers in the entire Missale Romanum, a prayer for us to have both the knowledge and strength (discernment and fortitude) to do what we ought to do:

O Lord, enlighten our minds with Your own clear light, that we may understand our duties and fulfill them with courage. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.
another [more literal] translation:
Enlighten our minds, we beseech Thee, O Lord, with the light of thy brightness, that we may be able to see which things ought to be done and have strength to perform the things that are just. Through our Lord, etc.
and the Latin:
Mentes nostras quaesumus, Domine, lumine tuae claritatis illustra: ut videre possimus, quae agenda sunt; et quae recta sunt, agere valeamus. Per Dominum.
After ten years or so of copying this into the inside front cover of each notebook, I find myself more than ever in need of this prayer, of this grace of Divine light and the mental and physical energy to get those things "quae recta sunt" done, finished, agere-d.

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Prayers especially appropriate for Lent:


The Stations of the Cross (a.k.a. The Way of the Cross, Via Crucis)
As if we were walking on Via dolorosa on pilgrimage in Jerusalem, we see, contemplate, pray, and move among 14 representations [sculptures, paintings, etc—or at least numbered crosses] reminding us of stages of Christ’s wearying and painful journey up Mount Calvary and to his death and burial. While all that is strictly required is “"a pious meditation on the Passion and Death of the Lord, which need not be a particular consideration of the individual mysteries of the stations,” there are a number of different meditations written for this devotion. Booklets (such as these) are available for personal or group/parish use, or the texts may be found online. Here is the Way of the Cross according to the method of St. Francis of Assisi. The prolific blogger, "Fr. Z"[Zuhlsdorf], has made available audio (mp3) files of three other well-known versions, those of St. Alphonsus Ligouri, Blessed John Henry Newman, and Pope Benedict XVI.

Note: I hope members of the sodality can pray the stations together at some point during this Lent, and individually at least weekly (perhaps Friday or Sunday). Would one of you (who has a camera better than my pathetic cell phone's) please take some pictures of Fr. Nevin Ford's mosaic Stations of the Cross at the SB Mission? Those could be featured in a separate post. Thank you.

The Rosary, especially the sorrowful mysteries (1. The Agony in the Garden, 2. The Scourging at the Pillar, 3. The Crowning with Thorns, 4. The Carrying of the Cross, 5. The Crucifixion and Death of our Lord)

Perhaps the rosary needs no introduction, but this site not only shows how to pray the rosary (in 16+ languages) but also gives  historical background and information about the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary. If you do not have your own rosary beads, please let me know, and I will help you procure some. 
 The Grades of the Passion. I cannot find these online, so I will transcribe from Holy Souls Book: Reflections on Purgatory by Rev. F. X. Lasance (1922). By that time, these had been [heavily] indulgenced and seem to be associated with the Passionist Order; the format suggests that they would usually be prayed by one leader with the rest of the congregation responding (as in a litany). I have sometimes prayed these every day of Lent, whereas I might only complete the Stations of the Cross weekly or twice-weekly at most.


  • Most sweet Jesus, sorrowful in the Garden praying to the Father, in agony, and covered with a sweat of blood. Have mercy on us. [Response] Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
  • Most sweet Jesus, kissed by the traitor, delivered into the hands of the wicked, taken and bound as a robber, and forsaken by Thy disciples. Have mercy on us. [Response] Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
  • Most sweet Jesus, found guilty of death by the Council of the Jews, led to Pilate as a malefactor, by the impious Herod despised and mocked. Have mercy on us. [Response] Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
  • Most sweet Jesus, stripped of Thy garments and most cruelly scourged at the pillar. Have mercy on us. [Response] Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
  • Most sweet Jesus, crowned with thorns, hit with blows, struck with a reed, clothes with purple in derision, in many ways mocked and saturated with opprobrium. Have mercy on us. [Response] Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
  • Most sweet Jesus, Who wast esteemed inferior to Barabbas, refuted by the Jews, unjustly condemned to death. Have mercy on us. [Response] Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
  • Most sweet Jesus, weighed down by the wood of the cross, and as a sheep to be slaughtered led to the place of execution. Have mercy on us. [Response] Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
  • Most sweet Jesus, Who wast numbered among thieves, blasphemed and derided, given gall and vinegar to drink and from the sixth to the ninth hour in horrible torments crucified upon the cross. Have mercy on us. [Response] Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
  • Most sweet Jesus, Who didst die on the cross, and wast pierced by a lance in the presence of Thy holy Mother, issuing blood and water from Thy side, have mercy on us. Have mercy on us. [Response] Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
  • Most sweet Jesus, Who, when taken down from the cross, wast covered with the tears of Thy most holy Mother. Have mercy on us. [Response] Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
  • Most sweet Jesus, covered with bruises, and marked with five wounds, anointed with spices, and laid in the tomb. Have mercy on us. [Response] Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.

Thank you for your prayers. I plan to include additional prayers as we continue through Lent (the chaplet of Divine Mercy, the chaplet and other devotions to Our Lady of Sorrows, to the Holy Face of Jesus, to Jesus crucified, etc.) Please mention in the comments or by email [or in your own post!] other devotions that you would like to share.