• David Carlson

366 St Patrick: The virtues of the starlit heaven,The glorious sun's life-giving rays

Day 366 Wednesday March 17th, 2021

I bind unto myself today

The virtues of the starlit heaven,

The glorious sun's life-giving ray;



On this feast of St. Patrick I thought it appropriate to quote this prayer which has become known as St. Patrick's Breastplate. He used the words of the prayer and his faith to protect himself rather than the sword, shield, and metal breastplate.


It's a wonderful prayer and I use parts of it during weddings as a blessing for the newly married. The origin is a mystery but a good story from Irish storytellers says St. Patrick found himself in a cave surrounded by a druid king and his army of bluish people, intent on Patrick’s death. After praying this prayer, Patrick was miraculously delivered.


According to another tradition, St. Patrick wrote it in 433 A.D. for divine protection before successfully converting the Irish King Leoghaire and his subjects from paganism to Christianity. As you can imagine there are other stories about the prayer, but these will suffice for now.


It seems to me to be a lot like St. Francis’ Ode to the universe called the Canticle of the Sun -- filled with the delight of nature and the boundless love of the Divine.


Whether Patrick wrote this poem or not, it was already being quoted in the 8th Century A.D., and has been prayed much and rediscovered in the last century as we have come to a greater appreciation of the Celtic spiritual traditions.



I Bind Unto Myself (St. Patrick's Breastplate)

Therefore shall you lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. Deut. 11: 18 (art by Marc Chagall)


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 the Cross for my salvation;

His bursting from the spiced tomb,

His riding up the heavenly way,

His coming at the day of doom

I bind myself today!


I bind unto myself today

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!

I bind unto myself today

The power of the great cherubim,

The sweet "well done" in judgment hour,

The service of the seraphim;

Confessors' faith, apostles' word,

Patriarchs' prayers, the prophets' scrolls;

All good deeds done unto the Lord,

And purity of virgin souls.


I bind unto myself today

The virtues of the starlit heaven,

The glorious sun's life-giving ray;

The whiteness of the moon at even,

The flashing of the lightning free,

The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,

The stable earth, the deep salt sea

around the old eternal rocks.

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!



POEM


Christ has no body but yours,


No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which He looks

Compassion on this world,

Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good,

Yours are the hands, with which He blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,

Yours are the eyes, you are His body.

Christ has no body now but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks

compassion on this world.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.


— St. Teresa of Ávila (attributed)






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