Ask and the Universe Will Respond?

There’s a popular idea making its way around the pop-spirituality and personal development circles.  The nub of the idea is that we human beings shape much of reality through our thoughts.  This idea, a blend of true science (mostly quantum physics, the darling of newthought/new spirituality), pseudo science, and New Ageism, suggests that all the world is energy, that our thoughts are also energy—somewhere on the electromagnetic spectrum—and that our thoughts can thus interface with and shape the energy around us.  In essence this means that we shape or create the reality around us.  This idea is, of course, a prominent part of the movie, The Matrix, and is also the basis of The Secret (which calls this idea the Law of Attraction), and What the #$*! Do We Know? among other such books and films.  You can see a concise introduction to this idea in the video below, in which this idea is called the “Holographic Universe.”

“Is Reality and Illusion? The Holographic Universe” from www.finerminds.com

Many popular spiritual and personal development gurus are now teaching some form of this idea, suggesting that one must simply think and believe certain thoughts in order to create the life one wants.  The Secret is the most blatant and materialistic voice in this strain, suggesting that if one thinks about getting bills in the mail, that’s what one gets, and if one thinks about checks in the mail, that’s what one gets.  The Secret goes on to suggest that if one wants, say, a new car, one imagines every detail of that car: look, feel, smell; one imagines oneself actually driving the car, making it as real as possible in the mind; and sooner or later, one’s thoughts shape reality – one gets the actual car.  Other teachers are less crassly materialistic, but no less emphatic that human thoughts shape reality.  This has become such a well accepted idea that almost anyone who has spent much time with popular spiritual or personal development material probably believes some form of the “thoughts become things” mantra.

What’s interesting, and, moreover, relevant for the point I’m about to make (yes, I’m actually going somewhere with this), is that a slightly different form of this idea swept the more or less traditional Christian world at least a full generation ago.  Known generally (and often derisively) as the “name it and claim it” theology, this idea suggests that Christians have only to demand that God provide a certain thing (sometimes quoting Bible verses like stipulations in a contract) and then believe that one has it, and it will be so.  This theology is still taught by some popular Christian teachers, especially among those with Pentecostal and charismatic leanings.

The vast majority of Christian teachers have rejected “name it and claim it” theology, and with good reason.  Too many “name it and claim it” teachers sound like hucksters (whether they are or not), and too many people have named and claimed but not received, making Christianity look like just one more case of false advertising.

And yet . . . what are we to make of a passage of Scripture such as John 15:7, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you”?  At least at face value, does this passage not appear to suggest that we can have whatever we wish, make so whatever we think or imagine?  Or to put it in contemporary terms, does this passage not appear to suggest that we can create our own reality, simply by speaking it?

There is obviously a problem with the overt narcissism and materialism of The Secret—imagining fancy homes and cars into existence doesn’t do much for one’s spiritualityAnd, like the name-it-and-claim-it theology before it, The Secret has real problems dealing with the many billions of people in poverty and all the others who must surely imagine and wish for and think about better circumstances—but whose thoughts have never become the things they thought about.  Name-it-and-claim-it, The Secret, the Law of Attraction, the holographic universe—call it what you will, it so often seems not to work.

But that pesky passage in John 15 is still there, almost teasing us.  And I think that what it suggests is that the name-it-and-claim-it and The Secret folks are actually on to something—they have it at least partly right.  No doubt, given the staying power of these ideas, they must seem to work for some people, in more ways than can be explained by mere chance.

What I propose is that this is not a holographic universe, at least not in the way the video above uses the term, but a royal one.  God is not only Creator but King.  What God commands, is.  God continually issues royal decrees, and sees them carried out—the universe responds to God’s royal authority.  Moreover, God has delegated some of that royal authority to human beings—especially those who follow God and live as God’s children.  Like royal regents, like princes and princesses, we carry God’s authority into the world, and issue commands for the universe to operate in accordance with what God wills.  We make requests of the High King, and find that those requests are sometimes granted, indeed, are always granted when we are abiding “in” God—acting in harmony and “sync” with God.

What we don’t know is why requests that seem to be God’s will, such as justice for the poor and healing for the sick, are not always granted.  But that is the nature of the royal universe; the sovereign has the absolute right to grant or deny our requests.  We don’t like that; it doesn’t seem fair, especially to us who have been raised in a the heady American atmosphere of rights and entitlements.  We must accept that the universe is not a democracy.  God decrees what God wills, and has good reasons for it—and it is that authority to which God’s realm (the universe) responds.

That means, though, that we sometimes can be co-creators of reality with God.  Sometimes, we can bend the rules of the universe, making things happen that some traditions call miraculous, because we are acting on God’s authority—or receiving God’s blessing on our requests.  This is a universe—sometimes—in which our thoughts become things, in which our minds shape reality, in which we have whatever we ask.  The true secret is knowing on whose authority and by whose will such things come to be.

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Are You a Priest?

It’s a question I’ve been asked on more than one occasion.  The questioner usually is asking if I am an ordained member of the clergy of the Episcopal Church.  The answer, for the record, is no (although I have considered it from time to time).

It’s easy to see where this question might come from.  I am a paid youth leader at my church, and am thus sometimes referred to as a youth minister (a word with clerical implications, of course).  I hold an M.Div., the traditional clerical degree, from a seminary.  When I have the opportunity, I write about and attend conferences and seminars about religion, spirituality, and prayer.  I am actually licensed in the Baptist church, which in most states means I can legally perform weddings (I became an Episcopalian only a few years ago).  And this fall, I will be a graduate student in Christian Spirituality (my eventual career goal is to be a professor of spirituality and spiritual formation).  So I spend a lot of time doing some priestly things (teaching, leading church programs), and often move in the same circles as a lot of clergy.  If it walks like a duck, and all that . . . so I understand the question.

The other question I get, of course, is, “Are you thinking about becoming a priest?”  The answer to that is also no.  For right now, I’m much happier teaching classes than leading churches.

But what is a priest, anyway?  A priest is one who mediates between humanity and God:  demonstrating who God is for humanity and representing humanity before God in prayer.  Scripture refers to Jesus as our Great High Priest.

Our practice, of course, is to designate certain people who do this work of mediation for a career as priests, professional clergy persons—where priest is a job title.  We also give these spiritual people the task of running our churches (though spirituality does not necessarily translate into managerial abilities or inclination.)  Thus when we talk about priests, we are usually talking about a class of professionals who have careers in religion/spirituality and church ministry.

Yet aren’t we all called to mediate God’s grace and blessing to our fellow humans?  And shouldn’t we all represent each other before God, praying for each other’s needs?  In that sense, aren’t we all supposed to be priests?  (Scripture does, in fact, suggest this.)

I am not a professional clergy person.  But, whatever my career, it is my calling to be a channel of grace to the world, and to pray on behalf of others.  So, yes, I suppose I am a priest.

Are you a priest?

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Low Attendance Sunday: Easter 2

This past Sunday (Easter 2 in the Western Christian calendar; 15 April 2012 in the Gregorian calendar), was, as one of the priests at our church noted, the traditional “Low Attendance Sunday.”

After all of the pageantry and emotion of Holy Week, with its daily services, palm frond waving, darkness, candles, cross veneration, late night holy vigils, foot washing, Psalm chanting, weeping, and rejoicing, it’s understandable that the average Christian is exhausted by the end of it.  Most of the clergy I know drop off the grid on Easter Monday, some of them probably thinking about how their parents wanted them to become bankers or engineers.

Yet with Holy Week and then the first week of Eastertide behind us, we found ourselves at Easter 2.  And it was time for church.  Again.  And so a few of us trooped in and did the work of the people once again, and dutifully celebrated the Holy Mystery of the Eucharist—because it was Sunday again.  In our parish, we had one of the lowest attendances on record.  Presumably, most of our folks were still exhausted from Easter.  Some, of course, were traveling or had family obligations.  And the flu has been going ‘round.  The fact that we had heavy rain here in Fort Worth all morning long on Sunday probably didn’t help matters.  Our service was, Eastertide notwithstanding, a rather subdued affair.

I don’t want to gainsay anyone’s choice to take the needed time for rest and restoration.  As a layperson, I know what it’s like to work all week and then try to work up the energy for Sunday (I don’t know how you courageous bi-vocational clergy do it).  And that’s to say nothing of Holy Week, which is a call for extraordinary commitment (and possibly committal afterwards).  My wife and I have done our share of begging off on Sunday mornings, choosing sleep or brunch over church attendance simply because the exhaustion of the week/month/year was too much.  Sometimes, one just needs deep rest.

Moreover, we Episcopalians don’t have Holy Days of Obligation, not like the Roman church.  We heed Jesus’ declaration, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath,” and thus Sundays for us are days for celebrating, not obligating.  Church, though not easy, shouldn’t be an impossible burden.

Having acknowledged the need for rest, and without laying guilt at the door of anyone who stayed home last Sunday, I still found our low attendance ironic, if understandable.  It was ironic because it was Easter 2.  Easter Sunday, of course, is the climax of the church year, but it is by no means the dénouement.  The whole point of the entire rest of the church year is that we Christians live post-Easter.  We are a resurrected people.

Easter 2, therefore, is the continuation of our new life gloriously begun Easter Sunday.  After the jaw-dropping, world-altering news of Easter, Easter 2 is a coming into our inheritance (though we don’t receive all of it at once).  Every Sunday then is a celebration, a wild party (no matter what worship style your church or denomination uses) that just can’t stop rejoicing over the hysterically wonderful, outlandish fact that we have been granted brand new lives.

That’s easy to forget when we do this church thing every Sunday, week in and week out.  Sometimes, we get weary, and life gets in the way of our rejoicing, reminding us that we have yet to receive the rest of our inheritance; the final resurrection is yet to come.  Sometimes, we find ourselves taking the Sacrament into our hands and mouths about as consciously as we go through the McDonald’s drive-through.  I myself, as I noted in my previous post, have not been feeling all that celebratory lately.  And with the murky traditions, occasional grandstanding, awful sinfulness, and just plain human error that are to be found in any church on any given Sunday, we don’t always feel the awesome power of the Spirit moving in us, reminding us to rejoice at our good fortune.

Nevertheless, the fact remains.  Our feelings come and go, but Christ is risen; he is risen indeed!  And if we die with him, we shall also live him.  If we endure; we shall reign with him.  Let’s celebrate together this Sunday!  There will be some rather decent wine.  Recognized or not, the Spirit will be there with us.  It will be Easter 3.

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Living on Holy Saturday

“Most of human life is Holy Saturday. . .” ~Richard Rohr

It’s Eastertide.  Christ is gloriously risen!  Death has been dealt its deathblow.  The ashes of Lent have given way to the lilies of Easter.  For the Church, this, much more than Christmas, is the most wonderful time of the year.

The trouble is, I don’t feel it.  I’ve been under a lot of stress lately, and I find myself in a funk, an emotional low that just won’t seem to lift.  The cold/flu thing I’ve been battling for this past fortnight just won’t let go.  In the face of rising costs and mounting bills, nagging doubts about God’s ability or will to provide still haunt me.  The to-do list remains ever long.  And my sense of futility, that no matter how much I accomplish, I still make no progress, clings like fungus on my soul.

It doesn’t feel like Easter.  I don’t feel resurrected; I don’t feel hope of being resurrected.  I don’t really feel anything, except a pervasive weariness.  For me, it’s still Holy Saturday.  Christ is still in the tomb; we are still in the period of anxious waiting, wondering what has happened to all our dreams, wondering what will happen next.

It’s comforting, to some degree, to know that I am not the only one who feels this way.  As the modern contemplative Richard Rohr notes so astutely, life is mostly a waiting game, fervently anticipating the resurrection we know someday must come.  Moreover, that resurrection is not something we can make for ourselves.  God must raise us.  And someday, God will.

I don’t feel it.  I suppose I don’t have to.  For me, as for so many, it still feels like Holy Saturday.  But the Church’s celebrations today remind me that there was an Easter Sunday, once.  By God’s grace, it can happen again.

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The Scriptures We Don’t Read

This past Sunday, my wife and I were commissioned as Lay Readers in the (Episcopal) Diocese of Fort Worth.  This means we can read the New Testament reading during the Eucharist, and more significantly, are authorized to lead services of the Daily Office (Morning and Evening prayer).

Our training for this work included training on how to use the Lectionary.  For those of you unfamiliar with this resource, the Lectionary is a long table (in book form) that lays out Scripture readings for services every day of the year.  You can see an online version here.  For virtually every day of the year, at least four passages of Scripture are provided: readings from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Gospels.  Over the course of a two year cycle (for weekdays) and a three year cycle (for Sundays), churches that use the Lectionary read and study most of the Bible.  The exciting thing about the Lectionary is its widespread use, including Catholic, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, and even some Baptist churches.  Thus, when an individual congregation hears the readings of the day, they are hearing and reflecting on the same passages of Scripture as fellow Christians all over the world that day.

Of course, the Bible is a sizable tome, and thus my wording above:  “. . . read and study most of the Bible.”  Just because of the sheer volume of Scripture, the Lectionary editors have chosen to make a few edits: I & II Chronicles are omitted, as are parts of Leviticus and Numbers, for example.  This is not to say these Scriptures are unimportant, but only to say that when creating a usable table of passages for public services, some choices had to be made.

Most interesting to me, though, are the parenthetical passages (Lectionary users, you know exactly what I mean).  On any given day, a Scripture listing, usually in the Psalms, might be followed by a few more verses listed in parentheses.  For example, here is the Psalm for Morning Prayer, Daily Office Year Two, Sunday of Advent 3:  Psalm 63:1-8(9-11).  If you read those parenthetical verses, it’s easy to understand why they might be optional for a Morning Prayer service.  Here they are in the Common English Bible:

9 But what about those people
who want to destroy me?
Let them go into the bowels
of the earth!
10 Let their blood flow by the sword!
Let them be food for wild jackals!
11 But the king should rejoice in God;
everyone who swears by God
should give praise
when the mouths of liars
are shut for good.

It’s not exactly good 21st century churchy language, is it?  All that talk about blood flowing and enemies becoming food for jackals isn’t very nice, certainly not what the average person in the pew want to hear first thing in the morning.

Here’s another example, again from the Common English Bible.  It’s the Daily Office, Year Two, Morning Prayer, Jan. 10 (following Epiphany): Psalm 139:1-17(18-23).  Here are the parenthetical verses:

18 If I tried to count them—
they outnumber grains of sand!
If I came to the very end—
I’d still be with you.

19 If only, God, you would kill the wicked!
If only murderers
would get away from me—
20 the people who talk about you,
but only for wicked schemes;
the people who are your enemies,
who use your name as if
it were of no significance.
21 Don’t I hate everyone who hates you?
Don’t I despise those who attack you?
22 Yes, I hate them—
through and through!
They’ve become my enemies too.

23 Examine me, God! Look at my heart!
Put me to the test!
Know my anxious thoughts!

Hating our enemies?  Asking God to kill people?  That’s not very Christian, is it?  And so we make these verses optional for church services.

There’s some good reason for doing so.  These pericopes of the Psalter are very much Old Testament-ish, and the life of Christ has changed how we look at everything.  The New Testament is new for a reason.  Our ethics have changed.  Thus, these verses do take some explaining, especially for those not familiar with biblical history.  Especially for visitors to a church service, verses like these might only confirm some horrible stereotypes of Christianity, or simply confuse the message.

And yet. . . I think these verses are part of Scripture for a reason.  It’s not simply that these verses are Old Testament and so no longer apply; that’s too simplistic.  Yes, verses such as these are not the way we want to think or behave as followers of Jesus.  Yet, if we are honest, they do represent how we really do think and behave sometimes in real life.  I’ve written elsewhere of the necessity of keeping our spirituality grounded in real life.  The fact of the matter is that we don’t live in a blissful paradise, floating on clouds, or wandering through meadows picking flowers.  Anyone who thinks spirituality is about constant peace and carefree spacing-out has never experienced true spirituality.  To be sure, growing spirituality can gradually make us more peaceful, more able to weather the storms and trials of life, but it doesn’t make us any less human, or evil any less real.  Sometimes, we are attacked by enemies, and sometimes, in the animal sides of our human nature, we feel like attacking back—if not with weapons than at least with words, which might be all the more dangerous.  Sometimes we are just tired of lies and attacks, and we want to fight back; we want to destroy.  That’s part of being human.

Growing spiritually can help us transcend those feelings and respond more like Christ would respond, but it does us no good to deny those feelings in the first place.  Scripture, if anything, should show us the truth about ourselves.  When we leave off verses like those above, we avoid reflecting on a significant (if shadow/evil) part of human existence.  We can try to be nice and genteel all we want, but trying too long to maintain that facade will just get us Christians branded as hypocrites, and rightfully so.  At some point, we have to deal with who we are human beings.

The Psalms are a good place for that.  The Psalter presents us with the full range of human life, all its highs and lows, triumphs and tragedies—the good, the bad, and the ugly—everything that it means to be human.  Rather than try to edit Scripture, we should let Scripture speak for itself, and tell us exactly who we are . . . and who we can be.

All Scripture quotations are taken from the Common English Bible, copyright 2011.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

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Why I Left Facebook (and Why I Came Back)

This post is a steep departure from my norm, but please bear with me; it’s just something I had to say.

A few weeks ago, I deactivated my Facebook account.  The catalyst for this was Facebook forcing me to switch to the new “Timeline” style profile.  As I looked over the Timeline, I saw events and actions I hadn’t thought about for years suddenly on prominent display.  To be sure, it was all stuff that had already been public before—and anyone who wanted to dig through my profile could have found it—but there was something unnerving about seeing it all right in front of me again.

But Timeline itself wasn’t the true problem, only a symptom of several growing concerns I was having regarding Facebook.  Facebook regularly changes the format of their site, and it seemed to me as if I would only get used to some new way of interacting with Facebook when things would change again.  Facebook’s developers may have full-time jobs making such changes, but I certainly am not being paid full-time to understand all the changes.  Trying to keep up with all those changes was turning into a lot of work.

Moreover, many of those changes seemed to be in the direction of eliminating more and more privacy.  Facebook seems to have a history of “share first, ask forgiveness later.”  I can’t put my finger on any one personal privacy violation, but this website and this website certainly attest to privacy concerns when dealing with Facebook.  I just kept worrying about what information complete strangers might be able to see on my Facebook page.

And, of course, most of that information I voluntarily put there.  Facebook actively encourages more and more sharing, more and more connecting, and at first I dove right in, joining groups, “liking” pages, and accepting friend requests from total strangers simply for the sake of connecting.

That, of course, took me down a rabbit hole.  Every posting, every accept request, every like brought me even more suggestions, requests, and ads.  By the time I deactivated my Facebook account, I realized I was spending hours and hours per week—the equivalent of a part-time job—just clicking around on Facebook interacting with ads, checking out new products, reading articles, watching videos.  The more and more content I explored, the more Facebook fed me—it’s to their advantage to do so, after all.

The curious thing was that the more I interacted with Facebook, the unhappier I became.  Facebook just wasn’t fun anymore.  Whereas when I first joined Facebook, I really enjoyed interacting with friends, catching up with people I hadn’t seen for a while, and maybe playing a short, simple game or two (and that once simple farming game is WAY too complicated now).  I even reconnected with the woman who is now my wife (whom I knew briefly in graduate school before we went our separate ways) through Facebook.

Not much of that fun stuff was taking place by the time I decided to leave.  As part of Facebook’s continual tweaking, I eventually got to the point I was seeing the same information over and over again.  I was also seeing the same few people on Facebook, and not really staying caught up with all of my friends anymore.  The loudest voices on Facebook seemed to get that much more coverage, and I found myself bombarded with emotionally draining political and religious screeds and ads for even more political and religious organizations I could “like” to get even more such bombardment.  “Friends” I didn’t know further cluttered up my Facebook home page (or whatever it’s called now) with useless information or made me angry with comments contrary to my beliefs.  It’s one thing to have a civil discussion about controversial matters; it’s something else entirely to find oneself drowning in information and opinions.  Even when I agreed with the commentary (and, because they were often from pages I “liked,” I usually did agree), the flood was too much, the emotional highs and lows too intense.

Moreover, I was being overwhelmed with a flood of “app” requests and game gifts; at one time I had over 200 of those waiting for me.

And the worst thing about this was that it was partly my fault.  I had gleefully turned on the Facebook tap full blast, constantly liking and interacting with reckless abandon.  I accepted application and friend requests without care.  And Facebook took full advantage of me.

I finally got to the point that I was completely exhausted.  Facebook was sucking up my life, and giving very little in return.  I wasn’t having fun; I wasn’t connecting with friends.  Rather, I was giving my time and energy and all kinds of information away to a company that used them to try to sell me things.  I had become a willing commodity.

And so I deactivated my account.  And I felt free.  I did notice a few tremors the first few days, clear signs of an addiction.  But I also noticed an immediate improvement in my time management and my sense of well-being.

I had been off Facebook for several weeks when my wife, who had maintained her account, noticed that some friends of ours are pregnant with their first child.  She got the news, of course, from Facebook.  It was momentous news—and I would not have heard it except through Facebook.  All at once I realized the reality of the world we live in:  Facebook is not going away, and increasingly, it will become the major if not sole place that people will share the important events in their lives.  I realized that if I was going to keep up with people, Facebook would have to be part of my life.

And so I reactivated my account.  There it was, just as I had left it.  The world had gone on, and I don’t think many of my friends even realized I’d been gone.  No matter.  I determined Facebook would be different for me now.

As soon as I returned, I “unfriended” everyone I didn’t personally know, with the exception of a few people I had really connected with in the virtual world.  I also “unliked” a slew of pages—and again, it wasn’t that I disagreed with their content most of the time.  It’s just that I have to be careful now how I use my time and energy.  I don’t need any more articles to be convinced of my own opinions.  Facebook fought me the whole way:  just with the way the site is set up, it is difficult to unlike a lot of pages and unfriend a lot of people all at once.  I had to redo several of the unlikes, and every time I returned to my list of friends, Facebook mixed up the list so that I had to go through the whole list each time to find the people I was trying to unfriend.

But that’s done now, and I have some new rules for myself for Facebook:  I will be very cautious about “liking” anything in the future.  I will not accept friend requests from people I don’t know.  I just don’t need Facebook redefining what it means to be friends with someone.  My focus on Facebook now will be on catching up with actual friends.  I may play some games and interact with material I care about, but I’m keeping that to a minimum (so please don’t send me any game requests or page suggestions for a while).  And don’t expect to find me on Facebook for more than a few minutes a day.

But, friends, do drop me a line and let me know how you are doing and what you’re up to (and if you’re reading this on Facebook, I do consider you a friend—someone I’ve actually connected with, though I still haven’t met a few of you in person).  If we aren’t friends, please don’t think me unfriendly if I don’t accept your Facebook friend request.  I’d love to get to know you; comment on my blog or look me up on Twitter (@soulscholar).

I’m looking forward to a richer, healthier Facebook experience.  I hope our relationships likewise benefit.  Thanks for reading; talk to you again soon.

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St. Patrick and Celtic Spirituality

Today,of course, is the day the Church celebrates the life of one of its most famous saints.  St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is, more than any other person, responsible for the development of Irish Christianity and the rise of a unique Celtic strain of Christian spirituality.

St. Patrick’s Day is also, and perhaps more familiar as, a cultural holiday bordering on an institution.  Irish culture is freely appropriated, and people all over the world become “more Oirish than the Irish” in a festival of Irish food, drink, kitsch, drink, music, and, well, drink.

According to my mother, I have a very tiny stream of Irish blood, though certainly nothing to speak of–not enough for me to claim to speak authentically for the Irish. And as much as I love all things Irish, I’m hesitant to add to the cultural pillaging that tends to characterize St. Patrick’s Day.

But there is a Celtic approach spirituality, and even at the risk of using Irish history and culture for my own ends, I’d like to present one of the most famous works of Celtic spirituality, the Lorica, or Breastplate of St. Patrick.

Much has been written elsewhere about the life of St. Patrick: his enslavement in Ireland and eventual escape, his ordination to holy orders and miraculous call back to the land of his slavery, and the incredible works he did in bringing Christianity to the Irish Celts.  You can read such histories here, here, and here, and there is no need for me to elaborate further.

Rock of Cashel - Irish holy site

Moving past the historical life of the saint, the Lorica—most likely not written by St. Patrick himself but probably written by one of his disciples—beautiful presents a poetic prayer that captures the essence of Celtic spirituality.  This prayer for God’s presence and protection recognizes the reality of the spirit world and the close connection between the spiritual and the material.  For the ancient Celts, every rock, every tree, every blade of grass hummed with Spiritual Presence.  God was readily found in nature, not separated from it, but infusing it with life and grace, and the Lorica speaks to a world in which God is with us and all around us.

Moreover, the Lorica also readily accepts and even delights in the mystery of who God is, embracing the Trinity as simply as the three-leafed shamrock.  The spirit world, though as close as rain on the skin, was nevertheless powerful and mysterious, dangerous even, and the Lorica is a sobering reminder of the need for God to keep walking with us through this world, and an unshakeable belief that God would do so.

In that spirit, I bid you Lá Fhéile Pádraig Shona, Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and trust this prayer will be meaningful to you.  Below the text of the prayer, please also enjoy a luminous musical adaptation, set among Ireland’s lush countryside and monuments to its spiritual history.  Peace be with you.

The Lorica of St. Patrick
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.

I arise today
Through the strength of
Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of
His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of
His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of
His descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of
the love of the Cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of the resurrection
to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In prediction of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of 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 to me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me,

From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From every one who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in a multitude.
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 women and
smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge
that corrupts man’s body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poising, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So there 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
every one who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye of
every one who 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.

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