By Hal Green
No one understood oneness with Christ better than St. Patrick (388-461). Though surrounded by myths and legends, Patrick was a real person who did incredible works through the power of Jesus Christ. His twin objectives were the glory of God and the salvation of humanity. His zeal for the Lord was matched by his zeal for souls. Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, said what we need to evangelize is a love for Jesus Christ, and because of our love for him, “a love for them,” for humanity.
Patrick truly had both. In his own words: “I was born of a father who was a Decurion (a minor Roman noble), but I sold my nobility, I blush not to state, nor am I sorry. I sold my nobility for the profit of others. In short, I am a slave in Christ to a foreign land on account of the unspeakable glory of the eternal life which is in Christ, our Lord.”
There may have been Christians in Ireland, but Patrick brought Christ to Ireland in a charismatic and permanent fashion. In only 30 years, he transformed a group of Druid tribes into a Christian nation. He reportedly founded more than 300 churches, baptized more than 100,000 persons, ordained around 5,000 priests and 350 bishops. Patrick became their patron saint. He did so by re-presenting Christ in his own person and powerfully proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ. He imprinted the mark of Christ on the Irish people as enduringly as the shamrock, which he apparently used as a symbol for the Trinity, and which Ireland adopted as its own symbol. Truly, Patrick and Ireland are fused together.
Patrick’s personal prayer, which was reportedly discovered hidden in his breastplate after his death, could be called the “Christ be my everything” prayer, for its terse petitions contain the essence of the Christian life: a life of mission with, in and through Jesus Christ. Its power rests in its pure “Christ-consciousness.” It simply asks: “Christ be one with me!” Though there is more than one version available, this one especially speaks to me:
As you read this prayer, also pray it, getting into its rhythm:
“Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.”
Praying Patrick’s prayer can bring you comfort and strength. It can intensify your faith to move forward unafraid; for in truth, Christ is with you.
(Hal Green, Ph.D., has taught and written about prayer extensively. A former religion professor and Methodist pastor, he joined the Catholic Church in 2011, and is a member of Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine. A podcast version is available at drhalgreen.com)