St Patrick Day

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday March 14 2024, 3:19 pm

This Sunday, 17th March, is St Patrick’s Day.  Patrick was one of the very early Celtic saints, carrying the Gospel message around Ireland in the 5th century, and encouraging a monastic way of living in community, prayer and hospitality.   Out of these roots emerged a particularly Celtic understanding of Christian living which has much to offer us today in our own life-journeys of faith.

The centre of Celtic Christianity is the Trinity: one God as three persons in relationship, and that he has made us in his image – invited into relationship with God and with each other and with all of his creation.  At the heart, therefore, is connectedness and community, recognition of the value and dignity of all life and the wonder that nothing is outside of God’s love and grace. 

St Patrick is said to be the first to have used a shamrock or clover leaf to illustrate the mystery of the Trinity.

Celtic Christianity recognises that we discover God in more ways and more places than we can imagine; we encounter God in scripture and in the world, in daily life in the moment of experience and in the moment of disagreement, through our senses, our hearts and our minds.  It places importance on the sacramentality of nature: the discovery of the awesomeness of God made visible through all his creation, the eternal word of God reflected in every plant and insect, every bird and animal, and every human being.  

We are challenged again as Christians to look at how we respect the dignity of others, those with whom we agree and those with whom we profoundly disagree.  We are challenged again to understand and respond to the damage we have done and are doing to God’s world.

Celtic Christianity places emphasis on simplicity, slowing down, taking time for quiet and time to notice, to be with God. Time to perceive God in the interconnectedness of everything. Time to discover the doorways, the openings and opportunities to see God’s path for each of us and feel his presence. Time to breathe in God, to notice where he is calling us to action or to rest. Time to experience his presence in the everyday and to be thankful to God.

Maybe, in this coming week begun with St Patrick’s Day, we might take time each morning to pause for 10 minutes of silence just to be with God and to listen.  We might take time each day to go for a walk and consciously look for how God is revealing himself to us in the unfolding season around us and in the people we meet. We might take time each evening to look back and notice how God has blessed us in the ordinary passing of the day, in the good things and also in the disappointments, sorrows and struggles, and in the words of St Patrick, “whether I receive good or ill … render thanks to God.” Take time to ask ourselves again, what does it mean to hear God’s invitation to be part of his world and to put our lives in his hands.

The hymn we know as St Patrick’s Breastplate was first a Celtic ‘Caim’ – a traditional prayer for protection, wrapping oneself in the encircling presence of God.

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.

Lucy G

Quote from Celebrating the Saints: daily spiritual readings, revised enlarged edition, Canterbury Press, 2004 (17th March)

Image: Dragonfly wing, posted by T’resa Weaver on ‘The Lord God Made Them All’, Facebook, 8 March 2024