Christ with us

I spent the weekend in one of the several “St. Patrick’s” parishes of our diocese. While this year the feast (normally March 17) has been shifted to today (Monday 18th) allowing Mass of the Sunday to take priority, under normal circumstances the signs of St. Patrick’s feast would be evident.

But in New Zealand these days we are not living under normal circumstances. Friday’s terrorist attacks resulting in the tragic killing of 50 of our Christchurch family have changed life in our city forever.

We now have to accept that terrorism is not reserved to northern hemisphere cities in distant lands but is a reality in our own country. In the past three days we have experienced an unprecedented solidarity with those who live under constant threat of terrorism in other parts of the world.

While most people in New Zealand may have little understanding of faiths other than Christian, we are, because of this tragedy, for the first time easily transcending perceived divisions to care for, to embrace and to express our love for and solidarity with our sisters and brothers of the Muslim faith.

We are indeed brothers and sisters, Muslim and Christians together calling Abraham our father in faith, united in our belief in One God.

And this is where the painful reality of these days meets the witness of the life of St. Patrick.

Most St. Patrick’s day celebrations focus on the wearing of the green and enjoying good Irish music, Guinness and dancing at an Irish pub.

So it’s can be easy to forget that Patrick was a passionate disciple of Jesus Christ who brought the Good News of the ultimate and eternal liberation through Jesus Christ to the people of Ireland.

Patrick showed the people how to live freedom even in the midst of oppression and persecution.

Too often we reduce the lives of the saints (as we do many truths of faith) to ideas that we then consider to be optional beliefs and which don’t require us to leave our comforts or to face our fears.

Today on this celebration of St. Patrick, and in the midst of our suffering, let us turn to Jesus Christ knowing that he is God-with-us.

An Invitation:

While this well-known prayer may not have been penned by Patrick, it has from the fifth century been known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate. You might like to spend a few moments of stillness with this beautiful prayer, and with the powerful audio of the hymn below:

I arise today through the strength of heaven
Light of sun, radiance of moon
Splendour of fire, speed of lightning
Swiftness of wind, depth of the sea
Stability of earth, firmness of rock
I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me
God’s eye to look before me
God’s wisdom to guide me
God’s way to lie before me
God’s shield to protect me
From all who shall wish me ill
Afar and a-near
Alone and in a multitude
Against every cruel, merciless power
That may oppose my body and soul
Christ with me, Christ before me
Christ behind me, Christ in me
Christ beneath

15 Responses to "Christ with us"
  1. These saint’s feast days have been commercialised and.perhaps for some the celebrations on the commercial side for Valentine,Patrick etc and indeed Easter and Christmas, I hope, may trigger non believers to be inquisitive enough to delve further on these christian/commercial feasts and be inspired to join the Catholic faith to whom these saints of ours belong! ! Thus the commercialism will have its purpose!! (Or is this wishful thinking?)

  2. Dear Father John Yes I do agree with you but I love to think of The Saints with Joy.
    My favourite picture of Jesus is The Galilee Jesus.
    He is smiling on the shores of Lake Galilee. He must have been a very happy and charismatic leader.
    I think that Patrick, Valentine and Francis would have been joyful in their love of God.
    I have Irish roots so Cead Mile a Failte which means a hundred thousand welcomes to a Grand Feast Day. I enjoy your posts. All be a Grand.

  3. This prayer along with the prayer to St Michael the Archangel and the prayer of St Francis have been well used over these past days. Thank and praise God for his family of Saints.
    Thank you too Fr John for that beautiful Music to start my day.

  4. Thank you Fr John
    My heart was touched. Beauty in words and singing help in this time of national sadness
    Patsy

  5. Thanks for the wonderful work you are doing by bringing Catholicism into the 21st Century! It is so refreshing to have access to a relevant daily online reminder of the important things in our lives with all of the other distractions we have in this turbulent world. God Bless all us.

  6. The Celtic Christians felt God very close to them in all His creation. They never felt alone with Him being so much a part of their daily lives. How much we have lost – but today, e Pā, you have given us such a taonga. May all who read and listen to this wonderful prayer be uplifted and strengthened in spirit as I am.
    Tapadh Leat.

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