March 17-19, 2000
volume 11, no. 55

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    Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

    Today Pat commemorates the Feast of Saint Patrick by revealing the real side of this "Apostle of Ireland." While overall favorable to Fox's "St. Patrick the Irish Legend" there were some inaccuracies that he points out such as how distorted this saint's life has been picked apart, twisted to make neo-Druidism palatable and how many aspects of our lives today mirror what St. Patrick faced in his life. More importantly he points out a prayer many haven't heard; one that encompasses everything this 5th century saint stood for. It expands on that famous Irish toast:

    May the road rise to meet you,
    May the wind be always at your back,
    May the rain fall softly upon your fields,
    And til we meet, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand.
In honor of his patron saint, Pat defends this great bishop and missionary in his column The real Saint Patrick.

    For past columns by Pat Ludwa, click on VIEW FROM THE PEW Archives   If you want to send him ideas or feedback, you can reach him at

The real Saint Patrick!

        When Fox aired their television movie "St. Patrick, The Irish Legend" this past Sunday evening, I was pleasantly surprised. It showed that there were missionaries sent to Ireland before Patrick (Padraic in the Irish and Patrocus in Roman Britain). But the Bishop that went before was not the self centered fellow they portrayed. It would have been nice if they just showed that he was martyred by the Irish. There were Christians in Ireland before St. Patrick. Slaves, traders, etc., just not that many of them. St. Patrick, as those who went before him, wasn't sent to 'capture the country for the Roman Church' (as some think as was alluded to in the movie) but to act as a bishop, a shepherd, for those already there. Just as Bishop John Carroll, America's first Bishop, wasn't sent to convert America, but to minister to the Christians already there.

        However, because of his experience with the Irish, Patrick knew that his ministry would be futile and short lived if he didn't gain at least the benign support of the High King of Ireland. This oversight by his predecessors probably contributed greatly to their martyrdom.

        It can be excused that the movie had Patrick asking his father for a Bible, considering the Bible (as we know it) wasn't even put together until 397 to 400 AD. And the movie used many of the legends attributed to him. Driving the snakes out of Ireland. (Probably a metaphor for the faith driving the Druids from Ireland), he and his companions being turned into deer to escape an Irish ambush, the 'duel of magic v. faith' between the Druids and Patrick, etc. But then again, we know miracles do happen. Who's to say that they didn't occur? Was it by chance, or Divine Providence that Patrick's 'fire' was lit during the Easter vigil in opposition to the Druidic lighting of the High King's first fire? The Druid's hold over the populace wasn't one of benevolent care, but one based on fear. (Being Irish and weaned on the legends of "The Hound of Cullen", the curse of Ulster [the Pangs], Deirdre, etc.)

        Today, what with the resurrection of neo-paganism, neo-heresies, and political animosity; what with the rise of Wicca, goddess worship, and New Age distortions; what with those in the Church and outside of it, working diligently to undermine the Church and God, maybe we need to also resurrect St. Patrick's prayer, his 'Breastplate':


      "I arise today
      Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
      Through a 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 obedience of angels,
      In service of archangels,
      In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
      In the prayers of patriarchs,
      In preachings of the apostles,
      In faiths of confessors,
      In innocence of virgins,
      In deeds of righteous men.

      I arise today
      Through the strength of Heaven;
      Light of the sun,
      Splendor of fire,
      Speed of lightning,
      Swiftness of the wind,
      Depth of the sea,
      Stability of the earth,
      Firmness of the 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 way to lie before me,
      God's shield to protect me,
      God's hosts to save me
      From snares of the devil,
      From temptations of vices,
      From every one who desires me ill,
      Afar and anear,
      Alone or in a mulitude.

      I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
      Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
      Against incantations of false prophets,
      Against black laws of pagandom,
      Against false laws of heretics,
      Against craft of idolatry,
      Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
      Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

      Christ shield me today
      Against poison, against burning,
      Against drowning, against wounding,
      So that reward may come to me in abundance.

      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 in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
      Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
      Christ in the eye that sees me,
      Christ in the ear that hears me.

      I arise today
      Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
      Through a belief in the Threeness,
      Through a confession of the Oneness
      Of the Creator of creation.

        (The Lorica 9Breastplate) of St. Patrick; ca. 377)

        A beer in his honor is not inappropriate, but maybe we should consider the Irish tradition for this day, and attend Mass in honor of this saint.

        Happy St. Patrick's day. May you be a half an hour in Heaven, before the devil, knows you're dead.

    Pax Christi, Pat


March 17-19, 2000
volume 11, no. 55

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