St Patrick’s Breastplate: A Prayer of Protection
According to tradition, St. Patrick wrote this prayer in 433 A.D. for Divine Protection before successfully converting the Irish King Leoghaire and his subjects from paganism to Christianity (the term breastplate refers to a piece of armour worn in battle) .
Listen to the prayer with this video and reflect on each section.
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…
In these words, the image of God is so close, so near and so intimate to us. It is as if He encloses us completely, like a womb or shelter. In this part of the prayer, we acknowledge and we ask that Christ is all around us, knowing we are safe under his shelter.
1. Do I recognise that Christ is not only in the Tabernacle of a Church, but as an Omnipotent God, is all around me?
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise…
In these words, we’re reminded that Christ isn’t just all around us, but also always with us. From when we go to sleep at night and when we awake in the morning, Christ is with us. When we sit down to eat our meals, Christ is with us. At every moment in the day, Christ is with us.
In this part of the prayer, we acknowledge and we ask that Christ is with us at all times.
2. How can I be more attentive to, or aware of, God’s presence throughout my day?
Tip: Have you heard of the ‘Jesus prayer’? It’s a short prayer that can be said quietly to yourself in any moment through the day – “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
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…
By now, we have reflected upon the notion that Christ is all around us and is always with us, but do we also recognise that Christ can be IN us?
As this is a prayer for protection, here we are praying that Christ be present in other people. That He’s not just loftily everywhere around us like some roaming spirit, but is present and tangibly visible in the people that surround us. That when someone thinks of us, Christ be in their heart, that only charitable thoughts may be had. Or when someone speaks of us, they speak only of love. Or when someone sees or hears us, that Christ within them helps to only see and hear goodness.
3. In what ways do I recognise Christ in other people? In how they speak? In the way they act?
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.
In this last part of the prayer, we close off with hope and courage through the grace of God. These words are final acknowledgements of the power of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is an acknowledgement that we are creatures in creation under the protection of our Creator, and with this knowledge, we are affirmed of our safety under His care.
4. How often, in prayer, do I recognise God as the Triune God (Three in One)? Which Divine Person of God do I normally pray to (most common is the Father)?
(Keep in mind: All prayer to God, whether invoking the person of God the Father, God the Son or God the Holy Spirit, is to the very Same God)
ACT Spend time in prayer today making it a point to listen rather than ask