Mar 30, 2010

St. Patrick's Breastplate Part Two

photo via creative commons by Tony Hisgett
I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.

I bind to myself today
God's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.

I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.

This is truly the part invoking protection. The first part is acknowledging the wonders of the natural world, the world God created. Have you ever stood somewhere and gazed in utter wonder? I have felt the vastness of the creation while gazing at the Grand Canyon, while out on a boat on the ocean, while riding out a violent storm inside my house and watching the wind bend and even break the trees. Even quiet times can bring the wonder of God's touch into your life: a sunrise, a sunset, a soft rain shower. This power, God's power, is what this prayer seeks to bind the speaker to.

And then the prayer goes on to describe the perils that this breastplate is meant to protect oneself from, such things as the snare of demons and the lust of nature, false prophets, heresy, idolatry, and even women and smiths. The writer of this prayer might have had sexual sin in mind when he prayed for protection from women, but smiths? I don't know! Maybe someone can enlighten me on that one.

The last line of this section intrigues me:
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.
That seems to be a summation, but the idea that "knowledge" can bind the soul goes against what we're taught today about knowledge being good and powerful. But in thinking about that a little more, I realize that there are some things I'd be better off not knowing intimately, and those are things that can lead to addictions, which "bind souls."

Jesus, speaking to the Jews, said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8: 31-32 NIV. So the kind of knowledge that sets me free is what I want to bind myself to.

Your thoughts???

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