St. Patrick and the Holy Trinity
The 5th stanza swings away from nature, back to the Holy Trinity. St. Patrick here again makes another bold claim. He draws down the attributes of God himself in his prayer. In St. Patrick's mind, God was not far away in "some heaven, light years away," as the song goes. God is here, in this place, right now. But even more, through holy communion, God isn't separated from him by distance at all. In fact, by beoming food and drink, God enters inside. If God is within, then all of God is accessible, except where sin blocks the relationship. Patrick invokes the wisdom, the strength, and the might of God, and goes even further. He prayers that he will see through the eye of God, hear through the ear of God, and speak through the word of God. The technical term for this is 'divinization." God becomes man so we may become God. Obviously, Patrick does not understand "divinization" to mean "replacement." He does not mean to take the Trinity out of the picture and replace it wih himself as some kind of new and improved god. Rather, he is refering to a unity so complete that he can act through God's own power. The last couple of lines refer to Jesus, the one who was like us in all but sin. Patrick asserts that only through union with the Trinity can we avoid sin and overcome temptation, like Jesus.
I arise today, through
God's strength to pilot me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.
The next stanza marks another change. Now, St. Patrick becomes very specific in his prayer for protection. It seems that he is especially thinking of the followers of the religion he finds in Ireland when he prays this stanza. After he has asked for protection against all these unseen powers, he returns again to praying for protection against natural calamities - fire, famine, flood and general wounding.
Once again, he asks for this protection not so that he himself can enjoy a material reward necessarily, but so that he can complete the task that brought him back to Ireland the second time - to lead the people out of slavery to freedom, through knowledge and worship of the Holy Trinity. He wants to give the gift he was given to these people as well, and asks that their conversion may be his reward "in abundance."
I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.
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