Sermon St. Patrick March 17, 2017

Sermon                                            St. Patrick                                     March 17, 2017

Isaiah 51:1-8              Psalm 106:1-6                        Acts 16:6-10               John 4:31-38

May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to you our Lord and Redeemer.  Amen

Today we honour Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, who brought Christianity to the northern tribes of that country in the early fifth century.  A native of Cornwall or Devon or Scotland, history is uncertain, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates who sold him into slavery in their homeland.  Six years later he escaped from his Irish captors and returned to Britain, where after studies he was ordained to the priesthood.  Paul had a vision to go to Macedonia to preach the Gospel, likewise Patrick had a vision that he would return to Ireland the land of his former captivity to preach the Gospel too, and around the year 438 he returned.  He was made bishop and given charge over the mission to the Irish.  Despite his chronic sense of personal unworthiness, Patrick was an effective missionary and his mission quickly evolved into a vibrant Church.  He encouraged the growth of Irish monasticism, and within a few generations monks and nuns had replaced warriors as the heroes of the Irish people.  The great hymn called  “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”  reflects the kind of Christian spirituality, which he planted in the heart of the Irish nation – a spirituality deeply penitential, but still more deeply alive to the sustaining presence of Jesus Christ, which is the essence of the Celtic Church (adapted from  ‘For All the Saints’).

Patrick was a pioneer.  He carried no weapons, except the Bible, which is known as the Sword of the Spirit – the Word of God  (Ephesians 6:17).  He neither excluded nor expelled people but instead he embraced them.  The first settlers here were pioneers too, with plowshares and pruning hooks, they cleared the land of its rocks and its forests and its peoples, in their other hand they carried the Bible – the Word of God.  In the early nineteenth century came John Francis Frizelle and his son Samuel Sutton Frizelle from Ireland, Samuel was one of our founders at Christ Church, Oxford Centre, together they too were pioneers.  They have done their labour we benefit from it as Jesus says but we should also build on it as Paul elsewhere tells us  (1 Corinthians 3:10).  By building upon our heritage we too will be reborn in every aspect of our lives.  Build then with the faith of Saint Patrick, John and Samuel.  What follows is both St. Patrick’s prayer and his creed;

“St. Patrick’s Breastplate”

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in its Unity
The Creator of the Universe.I bind to myself today
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 Judgement Day.

I bind to myself today
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 people.

I bind to myself today
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 today
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 seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.

I invoke today 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 witches, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.

Christ, protect me today
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 today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.


Friends I pray you will be like Patrick, bind yourselves to the Trinity, believe in the virtues he cites, oppose that which is wrong, invoke God’s protection and seek the presence of Christ in every part of your lives.  Embrace God, embrace others, friend and foe alike.  Amen.

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