In Summary…

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This icon, when I posted it in 2013, was by itself (with no commentary) a complete daily Blog post titled, In Summary. The day after I posted it, I received an email from a long time friend. His reaction so moved me that I asked if I could post his email anonymously. I felt his reaction demonstrated eloquently the very point I was trying to make: the image of Jesus crucified surpasses all of my words, because it is truth, goodness and beauty perfectly fused into the one “word of the cross” (1 Cor 1:18).

Here’s what my friend’s email said:

My dear friend!

I habitually open your blog when I feel hungry for inspiration in the morning. This morning I am preparing for a hard meeting amid a series of other difficulties that have made me cry out to God, “Basta! Enough!” out of dryness.

When I saw your simple post of the cross this morning my raw reaction was to let out an an expletive.

Then I started laughing. Then I started crying.

Ave crux, spes unica! Hail the cross, our only hope!

Keep teaching me from afar!

His email brought to mind the Peruvian St. Rose of Lima’s impassioned proclamation of the word of the Cross. She taught me through her words that the Cross is not only to be the supreme beauty that informs our contemplative gaze, but is to become the beauty that informs our whole existence. Here are her words, taken from the Divine Office for her Feast Day:

Our Lord and Savior lifted up his voice and said with incomparable majesty: “Let all men know that grace comes after tribulation. Let them know that without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase. Let men take care not to stray and be deceived. This is the only true stairway to paradise, and without the cross they can find no road to climb to heaven.”
When I heard these words, a strong force came upon me and seemed to place me in the middle of a street, so that I might say in a loud voice to people of every age, sex and status: “Hear, O people; hear, O nations. I am warning you about the commandment of Christ by using words that came from his own lips: We cannot obtain grace unless we suffer afflictions. We must heap trouble upon trouble to attain a deep participation in the divine nature, the glory of the sons of God and perfect happiness of soul.”

That same force strongly urged me to proclaim the beauty of divine grace. It pressed me so that my breath came slow and forced me to sweat and pant. I felt as if my soul could no longer be kept in the prison of the body, but that it had burst its chains and was free and alone and was going very swiftly through the whole world saying:

“If only mortals would learn how great it is to possess divine grace, how beautiful, how noble, how precious. How many riches it hides within itself, how many joys and delights! Without doubt they would devote all their care and concern to winning for themselves pains and afflictions. All men throughout the world would seek trouble, infirmities and torments, instead of good fortune, in order to attain the unfathomable treasure of grace. This is the reward and the final gain of patience. No one would complain about his cross or about troubles that may happen to him, if he would come to know the scales on which they are weighed when they are distributed to men.”

Theology of Bodily Pain

“Dear Celine, sweet echo of my soul! If you knew my misery! Oh! If you knew… Holiness does not consist in saying beautiful things, it does not even consist in thinking them, in feeling them! … It consists in suffering and in suffering everything. Holiness! It has to be conquered at the point of the sword, one has to suffer, one has to agonize!” — St. Therese of Lisieux

Re-post from 2013 in honor of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, Martyr

I shared in a post the other day some of the insights had I gained from Dr. Veronica Rolf’s book, Julian’s Gospel, that I read over Christmastime. It’s a scholarly book about the 15th century English mystic, Julian of Norwich. Reading this book made me re-appreciate the incredibly rich and unique theological vision of this solitary hermit. Most people who have heard of Julian would associate her with her highly popularized saying, “All will be well in all manner of being well.” What is usually not noted is that for Julian this affirmation of “ultimate wellness” refers to the end of history when Christ will return in glory to shepherd his people into the New Creation and bring evil to a final Final Judgement.

What really struck me as I read Rolf’s book was Julian’s sharp emphasis on the theologically positive meaning of bodily suffering. For Julian, and for her Christian contemporaries, bodily suffering was seen as a privileged — even the highest — means of entering into intimate communion with Christ.

Let’s take a moment to think about this astonishing affirmation together.   

Holy Communion

In the Christian spiritual tradition, the path to union with God is an irreducibly rich reality that embraces every aspect of human life. Some spiritual authors have emphasized the primacy of intellectual communion with Christ (e.g. knowledge of God in faith), others free will (e.g. love of God through the virtues), while others emphasize affectivity (e.g. spiritual feelings of longing for God or compunction over sins). Still others emphasized the primacy of devotion to the Liturgy and Sacraments. That said, within the Catholic spiritual tradition it is bodily suffering that plays a privileged role in opening us to intimate union with God. Whether it be the martyr’s pains or the agonies of  those who suffer from chronic pain or the hardships of the penitent or the countless daily discomforts that attend life, physical pain offers the faithful a singularly graced opportunity to commune with the suffering of God in Jesus Christ Crucified. 

The Visitation

Theologically speaking, every aspect of Christ’s human life opens up for humanity a fresh portal into the mystery of God’s limitless love. God clothed himself in human frailty in order to achieve a union in love with each human person. From the moment of his conception in the womb of Mary, God’s Son made every detail of human life capax Dei, “capable of God.” Conception, gestation and birth; childhood and adulthood; marriage and family life; eating and drinking; manual labor and study; art and play; weariness and sleep; boating and fishing; growing angry and grieving; feeling joy and laughing; being tempted and afraid — all of these human realities were taken up by God in Jesus. Absolutely everything of the human experience of life, in Jesus, is shot through with God. Even sin (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21). But above all, it is in the violent Passion of Christ — in its every detail — that the veil between God and humanity is torn open and we are granted unfettered access to the deepest mysteries of God.

Because the Passion of Jesus stands at the center of God’s saving plan, Christians have understood that bodily communion with Christ’s own pains are rife with spiritual power. Wonderfully subverting the twisted logic of sin and death, God transforms — through sacrificial love — that which is worst into what is best. In Christ, victimized Lambs defeat victimizing Dragons, and the inglorious specter of human suffering unveils a vision of divine glory. The suffering bodies of those joined to Christ in Baptism are made earthen vessels of celestial glory. For medieval Christians like Julian, this theological vision transformed physical suffering into a veritable “liturgy of the body,” as St. Paul’s admonishes us in Romans 12:1:

I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.

For saints like the stigmatized Francis of Assisi, Christ’s violent Passion was a nuptial event of divine-human communion. The Cross was the supreme moment of Christ’s self-emptying love for his Bride, the Church; his consummatum est. St. Thérèse of Lisieux, drawing from this tradition, refers to Christ’s cross as “our marriage bed.”

There was a powerful awareness in the middle ages that the Holy Eucharist — the “wedding feast of the Lamb” — wholly contained the Passion of Christ, and to receive the Sacraments of Christ’s Body and Blood was to receive the wound-bearing Risen Christ.

Fr. Aidan Nichols, in his book Epiphany, offers a vivid description of this link between the Eucharistic liturgy and the details of Christ’s Passion:

Christ’s death was not a piece of ritual yet it was a cultic act (i.e., a deliberate act of adoration of the Father), albeit carried out for a unique end: the forgiveness of the infinite malice contained in the “aversio” of sin, a forgiveness that restored human beings to participation in the divine life, since at no time has God not willed for them grace and glory. Thus the circumstances in which the death was embraced — the betrayal by friends, the rejection by the religious leaders, the hostility, or cynical indifference, of the men of power — all of these purely secular conditions were taken up into an act of cult, a supreme act of worship, whose hidden fruitfulness made it the central event in the history of the world. Because Christ’s sacrifice was a supreme act of worship, it was capable of becoming the foundation of the Christian liturgy.

Our suffering, united to Christ’s suffering opened out to us in the sacramental Liturgy (especially the Mass), becomes a co-redemptive self-offering that deepens our union with Jesus and brings life to the world. To embrace bodily pain in the economy of divine love is to embrace God in Christ — or, rather, to be embraced by God in Christ. This is the spiritual power hidden in the Morning Offering prayer:

O Jesus,
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You my prayers, works,
joys and sufferings
of this day for all the intentions
of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world…

St. Francis of Assisi’s vision of Christ, Francisco Ribalta, c. 1620. Taken from caravaggista.com

That said, orthodox traditions of redemptive suffering never consider pain as a good in itself, and do not require that Christians accept suffering that can be legitimately avoided. Neither does our tradition not bind us to heroism in embracing suffering that can be avoided. Heroism, while always an option that can be chosen in response to one’s personal vocation, is never strictly required of anyone. In addition, Christians also confess that palliative acts of mercy to relieve human suffering are equally essential to a holistic understanding of salvation.

What the tradition we speak of here does affirm, though, is the wildly hopeful Good News. Life inevitably brings to us bodily sufferings, and a fully-lived Christian life brings with it its own hardships. The Good News? All of these can become not merely privations of health or well-being, but sacrificial offerings and experiences of profound intimacy with our crucified and risen Savior. On the Cross and from the empty Tomb Jesus secures for us a good greater than we could have ever imagined: nothing in life, no matter how bad, if given to Him, is wasted.

The act of faith opens to you this vision of bodily suffering, allowing you to see and experience the world in this way. Julian, who begged God to allow her to taste Christ’s bodily sufferings in her own body, wrote later that the terrible bodily illness she suffered opened to her the grace of “oneing in suffering love with God.” In other words, her pain became an instance of sacramental communion with the God’s supreme act of love for humanity on the Cross.

This vision of faith is radically foreign and strange to the eyes of a modernity that sees in bodily suffering only a meaningless enemy to be eradicated. But this insight bears within it faith’s most radiant mystery: the saving meaning of human suffering. It infuses ultimate meaning into a universal human experience, revealing to us that indeed God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him. To Him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.

I will leave you with a quote and a musical piece. The quote was written by a Deacon, now deceased, whom I had the privilege of coming to know in Iowa. He was suffering the last stages of a painful terminal illness when he wrote these words to his children, and copied to me.  The musical piece is by Mozart, and is his musical setting for the liturgical text, Ave Verum Corpus, which reveals in only a few lines the exquisite beauty of the suffering that abides in God’s human love.

United with the cross of Christ, we are gifted with the blessing of sharing in His cross and participating in our own sanctification…

Acquire the Fire

Pentecost is still far off, but somehow I can already feel its approach. You can almost hear in the far distance an approaching roar from above. In today’s Gospel, the Lord says to his disciples during his final discourse at the Last Supper:

I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.

St. Seraphim of Sarov said that the entire spiritual life of the Christian can “succinctly be summarized thus: the acquisition of the Holy Spirit.” The mission of the Spirit, sent by Father and Son to re-create creation through the priestly mediation of redeemed humanity, is to make present and active in the world the limitless mercy of God that flows from the open side of dead-and-risen Christ. Intimacy with Christ begins in our intimacy with the Spirit who continues to incarnate the Word in us, Christ’s mystical Body.

Colleen Nixon once sang Cardinal Mercier’s prayer to the Holy Spirit, and since that day her voice has (blessedly) haunted my prayer. Listen to her here:

In honor of the Spirit, Treasury of All Blessings, I will leave you with the words of the “lyre of the Spirit,” St. Symeon the New Theologian. May God grant to all of us the grace of his Holy Spirit!

What is this awesome mystery that is taking place within me?
I can find no words to express it:
My poor hand is unable to capture it,
In describing the praise and glory that belong
To the One who is above all praise,
And who transcends every word…
My intellect sees what has happened,
But it cannot explain it;
It can see, and wishes to explain,
But can find no word that suffices,
For what it sees is invisible and entirely formless,
Simple, completely uncompounded,
Unbounded in its awesome greatness.
What I have seen is the totality recapitulated as One,
Received not in essence but by participation.
It is just as if you lit a flame from a live flame:
It is the entire flame you receive.
What point is there in trying to explain all of this to you,
Or trying to make you understand it all?
If you yourself have not felt it by personal experience,
You will be unable to know it.

Sneaking Glory into the Gulag

Siberian work camp. Taken from netdna-cdn.com

Happy Bright Monday of the Easter Octave– the day God laughed!

I felt compelled to share with you a magnificent liturgical hymn, called the “Akathist of Thanksgiving” — akathist is a prayer offered standing, and literally means “not-sitting.” It was written by Metropolitan Tryphon of Turkestan (1861-1934), and — as a hymn of joyful hope — spiritually supported countless Christians under the “Soviet yoke” during the decades of violent persecution of believers. As historian Alexander Schmemann said it, this prayer was “considered divine revelation” and incorporated into the Divine Liturgy. One of the most beloved Russian New Martyrs – the Archpriest St. Gregory Petroff (+1942) – loved the Akathist, and it was found after his death in the Gulag among his few belongings. Tryphon was, on account of his eloquence, often called the “Moscow Chrysostom.”

May we all, this Octave of Easter joy, permit Christ to fill us with such unfettered joy.

It’s a long hymn (actually, I edited over half of it out — here’s the whole thing). I encourage you to pray it aloud. I like to pray a stanza over and over for a day.

Glory to Thee for calling me into being
Glory to Thee, showing me the beauty of the universe
Glory to Thee, spreading out before me heaven and earth
Like the pages in a book of eternal wisdom
Glory to Thee for Thine eternity in this fleeting world
Glory to Thee for Thy mercies, seen and unseen
Glory to Thee through every sigh of my sorrow
Glory to Thee for every step of my life’s journey
For every moment of glory
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Glory to Thee for the Feast Day of life
Glory to Thee for the perfume of lilies and roses
Glory to Thee for each different taste of berry and fruit
Glory to Thee for the sparkling silver of early morning dew
Glory to Thee for the joy of dawn’s awakening
Glory to Thee for the new life each day brings
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Glory to Thee, bringing from the depth of the earth an endless variety of colours, tastes and scents
Glory to Thee for the warmth and tenderness of the world of nature
Glory to Thee for the numberless creatures around us
Glory to Thee for the depths of Thy wisdom, the whole world a living sign of it
Glory to Thee; on my knees, I kiss the traces of Thine unseen hand
Glory to Thee, enlightening us with the clearness of eternal life
Glory to Thee for the hope of the unutterable, imperishable beauty of immortality
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Glory to Thee at the hushed hour of nightfall
Glory to Thee, covering the earth with peace
Glory to Thee for the last ray of the sun as it sets
Glory to Thee for sleep’s repose that restores us
Glory to Thee for Thy goodness even in the time of darkness
When all the world is hidden from our eyes
Glory to Thee for the prayers offered by a trembling soul
Glory to Thee for the pledge of our reawakening
On that glorious last day, that day which has no evening
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Glory to Thee, ceaselessly watching over me
Glory to Thee for the encounters Thou dost arrange for me
Glory to Thee for the love of parents, for the faithfulness of friends
Glory to Thee for the humbleness of the animals which serve me
Glory to Thee for the unforgettable moments of life
Glory to Thee for the heart’s innocent joy
Glory to Thee for the joy of living
Moving and being able to return Thy love
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Glory to Thee, the highest peak of men’s dreaming
Glory to Thee for our unquenchable thirst for communion with God
Glory to Thee, making us dissatisfied with earthly things
Glory to Thee, turning on us Thine healing rays
Glory to Thee, subduing the power of the spirits of darkness
And dooming to death every evil
Glory to Thee for the signs of Thy presence
For the joy of hearing Thy voice and living in Thy love
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Glory to Thee, showing Thine unsurpassable power in the laws of the universe
Glory to Thee, for all nature is filled with Thy laws
Glory to Thee for what Thou hast revealed to us in Thy mercy
Glory to Thee for what Thou hast hidden from us in Thy wisdom
Glory to Thee for the inventiveness of the human mind
Glory to Thee for the dignity of man’s labour
Glory to Thee for the tongues of fire that bring inspiration
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Glory to Thee, satisfying my desires with good things
Glory to Thee, watching over me day and night
Glory to Thee, curing affliction and emptiness with the healing flow of time
Glory to Thee, no loss is irreparable in Thee, Giver of eternal life to all
Glory to Thee, making immortal all that is lofty and good
Glory to Thee, promising us the longed-for meeting with our loved ones who have died
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Glory to Thee, transfiguring our lives with deeds of love
Glory to Thee, making wonderfully Sweet the keeping of Thy commandments
Glory to Thee, making Thyself known where man shows mercy on his neighbour
Glory to Thee, sending us failure and misfortune that we may understand the sorrows of others
Glory to Thee, rewarding us so well for the good we do
Glory to Thee, welcoming the impulse of our heart’s love
Glory to Thee, raising to the heights of heaven every act of love in earth and sky
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Glory to Thee for every happening
Every condition Thy providence has put me in
Glory to Thee for what Thou speakest to me in my heart
Glory to Thee for what Thou revealest to me, asleep or awake
Glory to Thee for scattering our vain imaginations
Glory to Thee for raising us from the slough of our passions through suffering
Glory to Thee for curing our pride of heart by humiliation
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Glory to Thee for the unquenchable fire of Thy Grace
Glory to Thee, building Thy Church, a haven of peace in a tortured world
Glory to Thee for the life-giving water of Baptism in which we find new birth
Glory to Thee, restoring to the penitent purity white as the lily
Glory to Thee for the cup of salvation and the bread of eternal joy
Glory to Thee for exalting us to the highest heaven
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Glory to Thee, giving us light
Glory to Thee, loving us with love so deep, divine and infinite
Glory to Thee, blessing us with light, and with the host of angels and saints
Glory to Thee, Father all-holy, promising us a share in Thy Kingdom
Glory to Thee, Holy Spirit, life-giving Sun of the world to come
Glory to Thee for all things, Holy and most merciful Trinity
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Glory to Thee for calling me into being
Glory to Thee, showing me the beauty of the universe
Glory to Thee, spreading out before me heaven and earth
Like the pages in a book of eternal wisdom
Glory to Thee for Thine eternity in this fleeting world
Glory to Thee for Thy mercies, seen and unseen
Glory to Thee through every sigh of my sorrow
Glory to Thee for every step of my life’s journey
For every moment of glory
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Happy 500th, St. Teresa!

 

The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Taken from socialhistoryofart.com

St. Teresa of Jesus—also known as St. Teresa of Avila—was born in Avila, Spain, on March 28, 1515. Thus, today is the 500th anniversary of her birth.

So much to say. I will tweak a three year old post for it!

Like all genuine mystics, Teresa appears as an unexpected epiphany of God’s Fire into our shadowlands. Her remarkable, extra-ordinary encounters with God are dramatic signs of what every Christian bears within under the ordinary form of concealed mystery. Here’s an analogy that came to me. Just as the earth’s homely, stable crust conceals beneath its surface a burning cauldron of molten rock and iron, so the ordinary Christian bears within, sealed beneath the economy of faith, the coming Kingdom, the lumen gloriae, “light of glory” that awaits us beyond death and final Judgment. All the baptized are re-created as a Temple of the Trinity, a Holy of Holies filled with all the Fire of Pentecost, and remain so as long as they remain in grace. Or, as St. Symeon the New Theologian memorably phrased it, each soul in grace is “a living Paradise, a new Eden” where God dwells. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Cor. 6:19).

But in this life, this truth is only accessed through the inchoate darkness of faith (cf. 1 Cor. 13:12). However, on rare occasions — to exploit the analogy further — the earthen crust of faith ruptures, the magma wells up, the fire explodes and the blazing glory of the next world suddenly breaks into ours. Then the Church looks back discerningly, retrospectively and canonizes the site of the eruption. And we get a Saint. That is who Teresa is.

So to honor St. Teresa today, let me share here my favorite Teresa quotes:

“It is love alone that gives worth to all things.”

“It is foolish to think that we will enter heaven without entering into ourselves.”

“Once after receiving Communion I was given understanding of how the Father receives within our soul the most holy Body of Christ, and of how I know and have seen that these divine Persons are present, and of how pleasing to the Father this offering of His Son is, because He delights and rejoices with Him here–let us say–on earth. For His humanity is not present with us in the soul, but His divinity is. Thus the humanity is so welcome and pleasing to the Father and bestows on us so many favors.” [mind blowing]

“You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him. And the greatest is love.”

“Be gentle to all, and stern with yourself.”

“God save us from gloomy saints!”

“Mental prayer is nothing else than a close sharing between friends.”

“The important thing is not to think much but to love much; and so do that which best stirs you to love.”

“In light of heaven, the worst suffering on earth will be seen to be no more serious than one night in an inconvenient inn.”

“The closer one approaches to God, the simpler one becomes.”

“Often, as you have read, it is to the weakest that His Divine Majesty gives favors, which I believe they would not exchange for all the fortitude given to those who go forward in aridity of spirit. We are fonder for spiritual sweetness than of crosses. Test us, O Lord, Thou Who knowest all truth, that we may know ourselves.”

“Seek the God of consolations and not the consolations of God.”

“Perhaps we do not know what love is: it would not surprise me a great deal to learn this, for love consists, not in the extent of our happiness, but in the firmness of our determination to try to please God in everything.”

“God withholds Himself from no one who perseveres.”

“The devil frequently fills our thoughts with great schemes, so that instead of putting our hands to what work we can do to serve our Lord, we may rest satisfied with wishing to perform impossibilities.”

Amor saca amor, “Love begets love.”

“But here the Lord asks only two things of us: love of His Majesty and love of our neighbor. The surest sign that we are keeping these two commandments is, I think, that we should really be loving our neighbor; for we cannot be sure if we are loving God, although we may have good reasons for believing that we are, but we can know quite well if we are loving our neighbor.”

“God has been very good to me, for I never dwell upon anything wrong which a person has done, so as to remember it afterwards. If I do remember it, I always see some other virtue in that person.”

“In order that love be fully satisfied, it is necessary that it lower itself and that it lower itself to nothingness and transform this nothingness into fire.”

“It is of great importance, when we begin to practice prayer, not to let ourselves be frightened by our own thoughts.”

“All the way to heaven is heaven.”

“Love turns work into rest.”

St. Patrick, slave of Ireland

Taken from episcopalnet.org

I received several emails chiding me for not posting a St. Patrick post yesterday. ♧ I will re-post, for time’s sake.

From slavery you escaped to freedom in Christ’s service: He sent you to deliver Ireland from the devil’s bondage. You planted the Word of the Gospel in pagan hearts. In your journeys and hardships you rivaled the Apostle Paul! Having received the reward for your labors in heaven, never cease to pray for the flock you have gathered on earth, Holy bishop Patrick!            — Orthodox antiphon for the Feast

St. Patrick’s call to evangelize the Irish is a wild and absolutely unique story. Born in Britain, he was captured as a young man by Celtic pirates, enslaved as a shepherd in Ireland and, after having risked his life to regain his freedom, said “yes” to a divine call to return to his captors in order to preach the Gospel to them.

Patrick had stunning evangelical success as Christianity swept across Ireland in a short time, and it is a near-miracle of history that the ex-slave Bishop, before he died, quelled most inter-tribal warfare and brought the notoriously brutal Celtic slave trade industry to an abrupt end. He also lauded the strength and courage of Irish women, especially those who were enslaved:

But it is the women kept in slavery who suffer the most—and who keep their spirits up despite the menacing and terrorizing they must endure. The Lord gives grace to his many handmaids; and though they are forbidden to do so, they follow him with backbone.

Among the many characteristics of Patrick that marked the Irish soul, his earthy, no-frills humility stands out. Just take a moment to read this brief selection from his autobiographical Confession:

I am, then, first of all, countryfied, an exile, evidently unlearned, one who is not able to see into the future, but I know for certain, that before I was humbled I was like a stone lying in deep mire, and he that is mighty came and in his mercy raised me up and, indeed, lifted me high up and placed me on top of the wall. And from there I ought to shout out in gratitude to the Lord for his great favours in this world and for ever, that the mind of man cannot measure.

Therefore be amazed, you great and small who fear God, and you men of God, eloquent speakers, listen and contemplate. Who was it summoned me, a fool, from the midst of those who appear wise and learned in the law and powerful in rhetoric and in all things? Me, truly wretched in this world, he inspired before others that I could be– if I would– such a one who, with fear and reverence, and faithfully, without complaint, would come to the people to whom the love of Christ brought me and gave me in my lifetime, if I should be worthy, to serve them truly and with humility.

Therefore may it never befall me to be separated by my God from his people whom he has won in this most remote land. I pray God that he gives me perseverance, and that he will deign that I should be a faithful witness for his sake right up to the time of my passing.

And if at any time I managed anything of good for the sake of my God whom I love, I beg of him that he grant it to me to shed my blood for his name with proselytes and captives, even should I be left unburied, or even were my wretched body to be torn limb from limb by dogs or savage beasts, or were it to be devoured by the birds of the air, I think, most surely, were this to have happened to me, I had saved both my soul and my body. For beyond any doubt on that day we shall rise again in the brightness of the sun, that is, in the glory of Christ Jesus our Redeemer, as children of the living God and co-heirs of Christ, made in his image; for we shall reign through him and for him and in him.

St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland, pray for us.

Join me in prayerfully listening to the prayerful Lorica (Breastplate) of St. Patrick: