Christ to Shield Me Today

Christ to Shield Me Today

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I used to say “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” as my morning prayer.  It’s a Lorica (breastplate or protection) prayer traditionally ascribed to St. Patrick. Today most scholars agree that the Breastplate probably dates as early as the 8th Century, while St. Patrick himself lived and evangelized Ireland in the 5th Century; the prayer likely was derived from St. Patrick’s teachings, especially his teachings on the Trinity.  The Breastplate begins and ends the same:

“I rise today

in Power’s Strength, invoking the Trinity,

believing in Threeness,

confessing the Oneness,

of creation’s Creator.”

Patrick2St. Patrick is often depicted with a shamrock, which he is said to have used to explain the Trinity.

On my first timid excursion to an Orthodox church one day, I immediately noticed the icon of St. Patrick on the side wall.I relaxed a little; I was seeing a familiar face in a strange environment.  The words on his scroll I recognized too—“Christ to shield me today”—even if it was a slightly different phrasing than the translation I knew. The Breastplate entreats:

“May Christ protect me today

against poison and burning,

against drowning and wounding,

so that I may have abundant reward;

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me;

Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me;

Christ to the right of me, Christ to the left of me;

Christ in my lying, Christ in my sitting, Christ in my rising;

Christ in the heart of all who think of me,

Christ on the tongue of all who speak to me,

Christ in the eye of all who see me,

Christ in the ear of all who hear me.”

As an inquirer and then catechumen, I was eager to learn more about icons and the communion of saints. “You mean I’m not alone?” I asked my priest once during this period. He assured me I wasn’t. St. Patrick’s Breastplate invokes “the obedience of angels . . . [and] . . . the service of archangels.” I love when my priest prays that God would strengthen my guardian angel. I straighten a little; I feel safe and protected.

Before I became Orthodox, it had often been a weekly dilemma deciding which pew to select on Sunday morning: if I usually sat with the same friends, was I being cliquish? If I joined different parishioners, was I intruding?  If I sat by myself, was I isolating? As a catechumen in the Orthodox Church, I never felt any of this anxiety. A loneliness sometimes comes with attending church alone and seeing all the families. I started standing in the pew closest to the icon of St. Patrick. I wasn’t alone; I was standing with my friend St. Patrick.

Source: “St. Patrick’s Breastplate.” In Oliver Davies and Fiona Bowie. Celtic Christian Spirituality: An Anthology of Medieval and Modern Sources. N.Y.: Continuum Publishing Co., 1995. Pages 41-43. Print. 

INSPIRED BY PISTEVO

Inspired by the documentary, PISTEVO, the Orthodox Christian Network will be featuring iconography and the Saints of the Orthodox Church.  Iconography, the centuries-old tradition of depicting faith through images, was the primary means of teaching Christianity until written records were formally canonized as the Holy Scriptures. At the Orthodox Christian Network, we remain inspired by PISTEVO, meaning “I Believe”, a stunning 17-minute film packed with vivid imagery depicting the life of Jesus Christ and His saints. The independent documentary depicts a community coming together to complete the centuries-old mission of iconography led by Father Elias Villis at the Greek Orthodox Church of our Saviour in Rye, NY.

ABOUT ICONOGRAPHY

Iconography, the centuries-old tradition of depicting faith through images, was the primary means of teaching Christianity until written records were formally canonized as the Holy Scriptures. Yet even today, centuries later, iconography remains a spiritually powerful part of Orthodox Christian theology.  For many, the images enhance one’s ability to go deeper into the exploration and appreciation of their faith.

Inspired by PISTEVO, the Orthodox Christian Network will be featuring iconography and the Saints of the Orthodox Church. We invite you to share your experiences as to how icons have fostered your faith.  Please post to the Orthodox Christian Network’s Facebook page or email us at InspiredbyPistevo@myocn.net.

WATCH PISTEVO

“PISTEVO was created to inspire the faithful. This extraordinary story needed to be told. We witnessed the transformation of our community through the Ministry of Iconography, and stand as witnesses to the power of faith. We encourage everyone who is blessed to receive this film, to please share it with as many of the faithful throughout the Orthodox World as possible. God Bless You.” – Michael Psaros

We invite you to watch the epic film, PISTEVO, directed by  Director, Mark Brodie, and written and produced by Taryn Grimes Herbert that expresses “why we honor the traditions of our theology and share our spiritual experience with the Orthodox world”.

Click here to visit The Art of Belief and watch the full length film – PISTEVO.

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Cynthia Long

Cynthia Long is a librarian, folklorist, and writer with a focus in Celtic folklore, mythology, and history. She earned her M.F.A. in Fiction from Rosemont College in Rosemont, Penn., in May 2016. In August 2017 she presented at Doxacon, the Orthodox Science Fiction and Fantasy convention, on the topic of fairy tales and the famous C.S. Lewis quotation that says, "Some day you will be old enough to read fairy tales again." Cynthia was Chrismated in September 2012 and attends St. George Church in the Philadelphia suburbs, where she tends the parish library.