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Saint Patrick, Bishop
Hail, Glorious Saint Patrick, dear saint of our isle
On us, thy poor children, bestow a sweet smile
And now thou art high in the mansions above
On Erin's green valleys look down in thy love.
(Father F. W. Faber)
Readings, and the Gospel | Saint Patrick's Day Customs | Traditional Irish Foods | Sweet Treats for School
Saint Patrick, Apostle of Ireland, was born near Dumbarton, in Scotland, in the year 387. When he was about sixteen, Patrick was taken captive by Irish marauders and sold as a slave to a chieftain. For six years he was a shepherd in the valley of the Braid and on the slopes of Slemish.
He relates in his "Confessions" that during his captivity while tending the flocks he prayed many times in the day. "The love of God", he wrote, "and His fear increased in me more and more, and the faith grew in me, and the Spirit was roused, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as hundred prayers, and in the night nearly the same, so that whilst in the woods and on the mountain, even before the dawn, I was roused to prayer and I felt no hurt from it, whether there was snow or ice or rain; nor was there any slothfulness in me, such as I see now, because the Spirit was then fervent within me."
Patrick's captivity became a preparation for his future apostolate. He acquired a perfect knowledge of the Celtic tongue in which he would one day announce the glad tidings of Redemption. His master, Milchu, was a Druid high priest, and this allowed Patrick to become familiar with all of the details of Druidism.
After six years, on the advice of an angel, Patrick fled from his master. He traveled until he found a ship ready to set sail. In a few days he was in Britain, but now his heart was set on devoting himself to the service of God in the sacred ministry. He went to France where he joined Saint Germain, bishop of Auxerre, and put himself under the bishop's guidance and was ordained to the priesthood. Saint Germain was sent by the pope to Britain to combat the Pelagian heresy, and took Patrick with him to be one of his missionary companions in Rome.
Pope Saint Celestine I, who had called the Council of Ephesus to address the Nestorian and Pelagian heresies, sent Patrick as a missionary to Ireland on the recommendation of St. Germain. On his journey from Rome, Patrick was consecrated bishop by St. Masimus at Turin, then returned to St. Germain in Auxerre to prepare for the missionary journey to Ireland.
His arrival in Ireland (ca. 433) was greeted with opposition from Druid chieftans. He returned to Dalaradia where he had been a slave to pay the price of ransom to his former master, and to bring him to Christ but as he approached he saw the castle burning in the distance. The word of Patrick's miraculous powers had preceded him, and the frenzied Milchu gathered his treasures into his mansion, set it on fire, and cast himself into the flames. An ancient record adds: "His pride could not endure the thought of being vanquished by his former slave."
The druids and magicians fought to maintain their control over the Irish, but Patrick's prayer and faith triumphed. On Easter Day 433, after winning the Irish Chieftains over to Christianity, Saint Patrick is said to have plucked a shamrock to explain by its triple leaf and single stem the Blessed Trinity. This trefoil, called "Patrick's Cross," became the symbol both of the saint and of Ireland itself.
Saint Patrick's Breast-Plate
Saint Patrick's prayer, popularly known as "Saint Patrick's Breast-Plate" (or "Lorica"), is believed to have been composed by him in preparation for this victory over paganism.
Click HERE for the complete hymn with music from the Adoremus Hymnal.
Following is a literal translation of the old Irish text:
I bind to myself to-day
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.
I bind to myself to-day
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgment Day.
I bind to myself to-day
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
I bind to myself to-day
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.
I bind to myself to-day
God's power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seduction of vices,
Against the lust of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.
I invoke to-day all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.
Christ, protect me to-day
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop [deck],
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I bind to myself to-day
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity.
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.
St. Patrick's Farewell Blessing
St. Patrick spent seven years in Munster where he founded monastic cells and churches, performed ordinations, healed the sick, and, according to legend, resuscitated the dead. This is his farewell and blessing, as recorded in the bishop's Life:
"A blessing on the Munster people
Men, youths, and women;
A blessing on the land
That yields them fruit.
"A blessing on every treasure
That shall be produced on their plains,
Without any one being in want of help,
God's blessing be on Münster.
"A blessing be on their peaks,
On their bare flagstones,
A blessing on their glens,
A blessing on their ridges.
"Like the sand of the sea under ships,
Be the number of their hearths;
On slopes, on plains,
On mountains, on hills, a blessing."
Saint Patrick continued until his death to visit and watch over the churches which he had founded. It is recorded in his Life that he consecrated no fewer than 350 bishops.
He died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, on March 17, 493.
Readings, and the Gospel
O God, who chose the Bishop Saint Patrick
to preach your glory to the peoples of Ireland,
grant, through his mertits and intercession,
that those who glory in the name of Christian
may never cease to proclaim your wondrous deeds to all.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.
First reading: Peter 4:7b-11
Keep a calm and sober mind. Above all, never let your love for each other grow insincere, since love covers over many a sin. Welcome each other into your houses without grumbling. Each one of you has received a special grace, so, like good stewards responsible for all these different graces of God, put yourselves at the service of others. If you are a speaker, speak in words which seem to come from God; if you are a helper, help as though every action was done at God's orders; so that in everything God may receive the glory, through Jesus Christ, since to Him belong all glory and power for ever and ever. +Amen.
Gospel: Luke 5:1-11
While the people pressed upon Jesus to hear the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret. And He saw two boats by the lake; but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, He asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when He had ceased speaking, He said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." And Simon answered, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets." And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men." And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.
Saint Patrick's Day Customs
Wearin' o' the Green.
During "penal times" when Catholics in Ireland were persecuted, and frequently had to hide, it was a crime to wear the color green, which symbolized Irish independence and defiance of their oppressors. But Irish-Americans today make a point of wearing something green on Saint Patrick's Day to signify pride in their Irish heritage. Parades and parties are commonly held on Saint Patrick's Day. Though these usually bear no resemblance to a religious celebration, they often feature traditional Irish music and dancing -- even people with no Irish ancestors wear green and join the festivities.
Sadly, there are still divisions in Ireland, and ancient hostilities between Irish Catholic "greensmen" and Protestant "orangemen" have persisted even into our own time and although the disputes are far more political than religious, this is a particularly sad example of the divisions that have existed among Christians for centuries.
Many brave souls have tried hard to bring peace and unity to the country and we can join in their prayers for peace.
Traditional Irish Foods
Besides potatoes, Irish-Americans customarily eat corned beef and cabbage, "Irish stew", and soda bread or oatmeal bread on Saint Patrick's Day. Recipes we use follow.
Irish Oatmeal Bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
3 cups flour
1 1/4 cups rolled oats (quick or regular)
1 1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 cups milk
1 Tbsp. butter
Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients, stirring until the dry ingredients are just moistened.
Pour in a greased loaf pan, and bake about 1 hour and a quarter. Remove loaf to rack, and brush generously with butter.
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp. vinegar
and add to sugar and egg mixture
4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup raisins
1 tsp. caraway seed
Knead a few times and form into a round loaf. Placed into 9-10" well-greased cast iron skillet. Cut cross in top. Brush with orange juice and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in skillet at 350 degrees F for 30 - 40 minutes until golden brown.
Joanna Bogle, a British Catholic journalist, gives this recipe for boiled bacon and cabbage in her 1988 book, Feasts and Seasons.
Boiled Bacon and Cabbage
To serve four (multiply as needed):
1 1/2 lbs. boiling bacon or ham
Wash the bacon and if it is very salty, steep it in cold water for a few hours. Place in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring slowly to a boil and simmer, allowing 25 minutes to each pound and 25 minutes extra at the end of cooking. When cooked, remove the bacon, and cook the cabbage in the same water, chopped up. Remove the rind from the bacon. Sprinkle bacon with bread crumbs an place under the grill for a few minutes to brown. Slice the bacon and serve hot with the freshly cooked cabbage. Hot parsley sauce can be served with the bacon, if desired.
Sweet Treats for School
Shamrock or Snake Cookies
Use either your favorite sugar cookie recipe, or a prepared cookie dough roll. If you make your own dough, color it green with food coloring. If you use ready-made dough, it may be easier to add green color with icing or colored sugar.
Either use a clover shaped cookie cutter, or, lacking that slice round dough into 1/4" thick slices, pressing three circles together to form a clover, adding a pinch of dough rolled into a "stem). Sprinkle with green sugar before baking, or decorate with icing.
You can make these about any size. Roll the dough into a long snake-like roll, then roll the "snake" in green sugar. Form into a snaky coil with the "head" sticking up in the middle and form the "tail" into a point. Place on a prepared cookie sheet. Add "eyes" made of bits of chocolate chip or currants.
Saint Patrick's Day cupcakes
Prepare batter from a white or yellow cake mix, or your own recipe. Sprinkle a few drops of green cake-coloring on top of the batter and cut through the batter with a rubber spatula a few times to give a "marble" effect. Spoon the batter into muffin pans lined with cupcake papers (each about 2/3 full), and bake in 350 degree oven about 15 minutes, or until done. Cool cupcakes on racks.
Prepare butter cream icing (or use canned white icing). Add about three drops green cake coloring and one drop yellow, and mix thoroughly, to give a leafy green.
For "grass": Add about 1/4 teaspoon of green food coloring and about 1 teaspoon water to 1 cup of shredded or flaked sweetened coconut, stirring until coconut is evenly colored.
Ice the cooled cakes with the green icing, and sprinkle them with the coconut "grass".
Adorn the cakes with "gummy worms" to represent the snakes St. Patrick drove out of Ireland, or with gumdrop shamrocks, or with small marzipan potatoes.
If you can't find ready-made shamrocks, you can roll out any green gumdrops on sugared waxed paper to about 1/4" thick, and cut out shamrock shapes with a small sharp knife.
Potatoes: Buy canned, sweetened almond paste, shape into ovals about 1 1/2" long, poke "eyes" with a toothpick or match stick, and brush them with food coloring thinned with a little water (caramel coloring, or mix a brown color by adding a drop of green and yellow to about 4 drops of red food coloring).
Roll the potatoes in powdered cocoa mixed with sugar, and put them on waxed paper to dry.
Through me many peoples were born again in God
"I give thanks to my God tirelessly who kept me faithful in the day of trial, so that today I offer sacrifice to him confidently, the living sacrifice of my life to Christ, my Lord, who preserved me in all my troubles. I can say therefore: Who am I, Lord, and what is my calling that you should cooperate with me with such divine power? Today, among heathen peoples, I praise and proclaim your name in all places, not only when things go well but also in times of stress. Whether I receive good or ill, I return thanks equally to God, who taught me always to trust him unreservedly. His answer to my prayer inspired me in these latter days to undertake this holy and wonderful work in spite of my ignorance, and to imitate in some way those who, as the Lord foretold, would preach his Good News as a witness to all nations before the end of the world.
How did I come by this wisdom which was not my own, I who neither knew what was in store for me, nor what it was to relish God? What was the source of the gift I got later, the great and beneficial gift of knowing and loving God, even if it meant leaving my homeland and my relatives?
I came to the Irish heathens to preach the Good News and to put up with insults from unbelievers. I heard my mission abused, I endured many persecutions even to the extent of chains; I gave up my free-born status for the good of others. Should I be worthy I am ready to give even my life, promptly and gladly, for his name; and it is there that I wish to spend it until I die, if the Lord should graciously allow me.
I am very much in debt to God; who gave me so much grace that through me many people were born again in God and afterwards confirmed, and that clergy were ordained for them everywhere. All this was for a people newly come to belief whom the Lord took from the very ends of the earth as he promised long ago, through his prophets: ‘To you the nations will come from the ends of the earth and will say, "How false are the idols our fathers made for themselves, how useless they are." 'And again: ‘I have made you a light for the nations so that you may be a means of salvation to the ends of the earth.’
I wish to wait there for the promise of one who never breaks his word, as he promises in the gospel: 'They will come from the east and the west to take their places with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob,' just as we believe the faithful will come from every part of the world."
A reading from the Confession of St Patrick (Conf 34,36,37,38,39)
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