The Real St. Patrick


Lough Derg

From the Golden Legend:

On a time as Saint Patrick preached in Ireland the faith of Jesu Christ, and did but little profit by his predication, for he could not convert the evil, rude and wild people, he prayed to our Lord Jesu Christ that he would show them some sign openly, fearful and ghastful, by which they might be converted and be repentant of their sins. Then, by the commandment of God, Saint Patrick made in the earth a great circle with his staff, and anon the earth after the quantity of the circle opened and there appeared a great pit and a deep, and Saint Patrick by the revelation of God understood that there was a place of purgatory, in to which whomsoever entered therein he should never have other penance ne feel none other pain, and there was showed to him that many should enter which should never return ne come again. And they that should return should abide but from one morn to another, and no more, and many entered that came not again. As touching this pit or hole which is named Saint Patrick’s purgatory, some hold opinion that the second Patrick, which was an abbot and no bishop, that God showed to him this place of purgatory; but certainly such a place there is in Ireland wherein many men have been, and yet daily go in and come again, and some have had there marvellous visions and seen grisly and horrible pains, of whom there be books made as of Tundale and others.

Every Lord and Lady of Lepanto should have the guts to make a real retreat:

The classic Lough Derg Pilgrimage lasts for three days. The pilgrim undertakes to begin fasting at midnight on the first day and travels to the island by boat during that morning. Once there, they remove all footwear – for the pilgrimage is undertaken barefoot.

The pilgrim then begins a series of “Stations” – a series of prayers – gestures – walking – kneeling – all conducted in silence. During the course of the three days, the pilgrim will complete nine Stations. Part of the Stations involves walking around the “beds” dedicated to various saints – Brigid, Brendan, Catherine. Columba, Patrick, Davog and Molaise. These may have been part of cells built and used by early monks.

The Pilgrimage requires great frugality in eating and drinking – only one meal of black tea or coffee and dry toast is permitted on each day. Even when the pilgrim departs, they commit themselves to continue the fast until midnight that day.

A further exercise is to undertake an all-night Vigil of prayer – repeating the Stations. It goes without saying that one does not “catch up” on the lost sleep the next day!

Saint Patrick is said to have had the practice of reciting all 150 psalms with his feet in icy water to keep himself awake.feetinwater.jpg
So everybody say your prayers and stop whimpering. For instance, may I suggest this manly man one, St. Patrick’s Breastplate?

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel 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 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.

7 thoughts on “The Real St. Patrick

  1. Interesting site. I will need to come back and read more of your entries. I am writing a prayerbook and am unsure whether to include prayers to Mary in it since only Catholics say those prayers, by and large. I want my prayerbook to be ecumenical even though I am a Catholic. What do you think?

  2. I think about this every year. Thank you so much for bringing it up and reminding us of Patrick’s great service to the Church Universal. Do you suppose there’s any chance of bringing this “holiday”, in time, to the status of a date recognized in popular culture as a Saint’s Day? For years now I’ve chosen to celebrate it as a Saint’s Day, and boy, is that a lonely habit.

  3. 1dumblonde,

    I am not sure what exactly what your goal is. I know that at ecumenical meetings prayers are adopted that are more along the lines of a “Mere Christianity” so that everyone can mean what is said.

    But I am not sure exactly what service a book would serve unless it was used at such a meeting. I think most people who buy a prayer book would be looking for one that is appropriate to their confession. Furthermore, in such arrangements, it is usually Catholics who are left to pray more like Protestants than vice versa.

    Lastly, I tend to not be shy about Our Lady. Brining Her forward is always an opportunity to explain Marian devotion. Protestants mostly do not object to Catholic Marian devotion, but only to what they misunderstand as Marian devotion.

  4. hughvic,

    That will only happen, more than likely, if we can convince people to take some of their ice cold green beer and soak their feet in it while they pray the psalms. A good dose of manly Celtic penance, would bring us back to the spirit of St. Patrick.

  5. Viva San Patricio!

    Wouldn’t it be fair to say that Protestants object “mostly” to misunderstood Marian devotion, while they object to at least one aspect of Marian devotion which they do correctly understand, intercession? Isn’t intercession one of the yet unresolved doctrinal differences between Catholics and Protestants, an issue remaining, as it were, on the ecumenical table?

  6. hughvic,

    I suppose it may be considered so. Though, I tend to think that intercession is not the basic problem, because all Christians ask each other for prayers; it seems that praying to the “dead” is a more fundamental question for Protestants. I guess that is why I don’t see intercession as a specifically Marian difficulty.

  7. I have a number of evangelical friends and their problems with Mary are multi-faceted. First of all, they are Bible Only folks and Mary’s power is very subtle, if you will, in the Bible. I don’t mean this as a disrespectful statement … She was and is very powerful but in a very subtle way which is awesome, quite honestly. They are much more drawn to St. Paul because his writings are so prolific and his teachings so succinct. Yet, they do not pray to St. Paul because, as Father Angelo stated, they do not pray to the dead. They do not have Macc I and II in their Bibles so are missing some of that teaching, for one. Plus, they’re very concerned about worshiping anyone other than God. Granted, we should all be concerned about this! But, they think by having a statue or crucifix versus a cross is a form of idolatry and thus asking for intervention from someone other than the one true God. They take this as a form of worshiping the statue or saint or whatever. Granted, there are some Catholics who do indeed appear to be worshiping the statue or saint but that is NOT what the Catholic Church encourages.

    I have gotten into great ‘debates’ (eh-hem) over this. I have given examples such as, “If I call you up and tell you that I’m going to lose our house because we’re financially destitute and I ask you to pray for us over this, am I worshiping you? Of course not; I am asking a fellow Christian to pray for me. Now, if you pray about this and decide, say, to throw a big chunk of change in my mailbox to help us out … who answered my prayer? God? You? Or was it God THROUGH you? If we who are still confined by our wretched bodies can do God’s good works, why wouldn’t someone who is no longer confined by their bodies be unable to do these things anymore? That would mean that death gives us less powers and abilities … that would make heaven almost less than earth.” I’m not saying that the evangelicals will say, “Oh, wow, Jen …never thought of it that way before. Thanks for setting me straight.” NOT! But, I can tell it makes them ponder which is all we can hope for … one person plants the seed and we can only hope that the Good Lord will find another to do the watering. We may never see the flower grow.

    Well, maybe I’ve gotten certain doctrinal issues wrong in my analogy but I think that is a main reason why they do not honor Mary as Catholics do.

    As for these ecumenical gatherings and books, I can see both sides. I hate to think that we never participate with those of other Faiths. I have actually learned a lot from my evangelical friends … if nothing else, they have forced me to discern and fight for my beliefs in a way that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I have had some of my best bible studies outside of the Catholic Church, I’m sad to say. But, I eventually got exhausted in trying to fight for the Catholic views and stopped going. Yet, I’ve not stumbled on anything better within the Catholic Church … tragic. Also, I’ve attended what was stated as ‘inter-denominational’ prayer services only to realize that they have a DEFINITE agenda and this is irritating. My friend went to a 9-11 one and had this happen to her … she got up and left. So, if you’re going to SAY it’s inter-denominational, then it better be! Maybe people who have been away from the Church will choose to come back after something like that … and once they’re back, now you start to show them some of the uncompromising truths … lovingly, but unabashedly. So, it’s true … the Catholics definitely seem to be the ones who have to Protestantise themselves which is why I’m personally reading less and less of that stuff and more of the deeper Catholic stuff … but that deeper Catholic stuff twenty years ago would have TURNED ME OFF. So, sometimes we have to find that common ground and move up from there. My humble opinion on the matter.

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