St Patrick’s Day

To celebrate the solemnity of the Apostle of the Irish, the one who enlightened us by sowing the seed of the Gospel among us, we would like to offer a splendid poem, attributed to the Irish monk Oengus Céili Dé, and in translation by Thomas Kinsella.  It recalls Patrick’s own Breastplate and the invocation style of that mighty prayer.  In it the single voice praying recognises that they are not alone, but rather part of the chorus of all who have gone before, making profession of the same faith, and strengthening those who now cling to this faith.  The poem is in the first person singular – I, me, my, throughout.  Perhaps, when we have finished praying it as a personal cry to God, we might alter the poem so that we pray in the name of all whom we call to mind: we, us, our….  We are, as Church men and women, never alone, but always drawn into a fellowship, a communion, a sharing in the Mystery of Faith.  This surely was Patrick’s gift: a faith that brought together, which conveyed shared identity and belonging and a community of belief and practice.  Pray it today: for yourself, for Ireland, for the Church in Ireland, and that we may reclaim the faith which Patrick worked so hard to plant, and which we have allowed to wither, but not, we hope, to die.

The time is ripe and I repent 

every trespass, O my Lord.

Pardon me my every crime, 

Christ, as thou art merciful.

By thy incarnation sweet, 

by thy birth, my sacred King,

By thy lasting baptism here, 

pardon me my every wrong.

By thy hanging, filled with love, 

by thy rising from the dead,

All my passions, pardon me, 

Lord who art truly merciful.

By thy ascension-glorious hour – 

to holy heaven, to the Father

(promised ere thou didst depart) 

pardon me my every wrong.

By thy coming holy word 

to judge the hosts of Adam’s seed,

By heaven’s orders nine revealed 

be my offence forgiven me.

By the ranks of prophet true, 

by the martyrs worthy throng,

By the train of noble Fathers, 

pardon the crimes that mastered me.

By the band of the pure apostles, 

by the chaste disciple host,

By each saint of royal favour, 

pardon me my evil deeds.

By the great world’s pious virgins, 

by the prime lay-womanhood,

By Mary, maiden wonderful, 

pardon me my earthly crimes.

By earth’s peoples (sweet the word) 

and those of bright and blessed heaven

Grant thy pardon excellent 

for all my crimes, since I repent!

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