“Draw your strength from the Lord and from His mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil…put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with our loins girded in truth, clothed in righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the Gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as with a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Holy Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6: 10-11; 13-17).
As we proceed through Lent, St. Paul’s words perfectly describe our daily battle. Our struggle lies principally within our interior spirit as we deliberate whether to obey and to trust God or not. The alternatives are to follow the world, to insist on our own selfishness, or to give into the temptations of the demons who know our weaknesses. Our exterior actions that are sinful are but the outward manifestations of an interior rebellion against our Redeemer and all that He has done for us. We often want to do things our way, but we know that we cannot (our conscience or reality betrays us every time). Consequently, our hearts will never be at rest and peace unless they rest in God alone, as St. Augustine so aptly articulated.
Lent, therefore, is the time to lay aside the empty demands of our selfish ego. Instead, each of us has been called by Jesus and clothed perfectly in Him. Jesus gives us all the spiritual weapons we need to follow Him in this life. Instead of false starts that only end in emptiness which Lucifer offers, God gives us the spiritual strength in His Cross to see the value of our lives in conformity with His own—with all its joys, ease, sorrows, and difficulties.
Lent is the season where we recommit our life to the spiritual battle we wage every day, whether knowingly or not. May we put St. Paul’s words into practice daily knowing that Jesus has already won the war. May we win the personal battles in our own lives with his strength.
As the Church rightly celebrates St. Patrick (385-461) this week, the prayer attributed to him is still particularly appropriate. The Breastplate of St. Patrick calls to mind how prayer is a daily armament against all those forces that seek to pull us away from our Lord. We can see clearly how St. Patrick’s trust in God through all adversity kept him steadfast in God’s will both for him and his fellow countrymen. May we be so armed each day with God’s very life!
May you have a most blessed and holy week!
Fr. Shawn William Cutler
The Lorica, or Breastplate, 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 and His baptism, through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial, through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension, through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today through the strength of the love of 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 the predictions of prophets, in the preaching of apostles, in the faith of confessors, in the innocence of holy virgins, in the deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through the strength of heaven, the light of the sun, the radiance of the moon, the splendor of fire, the speed of lightning, the swiftness of wind, the depth of the sea, the stability of the earth, the 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 for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s shield to protect me, God’s host to save me from snares of devils, from temptation of vices, from everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and near.
I summon today all these powers between me and those evils, against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose my body and soul, against incantations of false prophets, against black laws of paganism, against false laws of heretics, against craft of idolatry, against spells of witches and smiths and wizards, against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul; Christ to shield me today against poison, against burning, against drowning, against wounding, so that there may come to me an 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 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. Amen.