Devotion: Christ is Everywhere

May 7, 2020

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.[1]

It is believed that Saint Patrick, who wrote the above blessing, founded Christianity in Ireland in the 5th century. “When he was about sixteen, he was captured by Irish pirates from his home in Britain and taken as a slave to Ireland, looking after animals; he lived there for six years before escaping and returning to his family.”[2] From being abducted from his home, becoming a slave, and making a harrowing escape, he must have grown in faith that he wanted to share with others, because he became a clergyman and then returned to northern and western Ireland as a missionary. 

The blessing is part of a poem that is called St. Patrick’s breastplate, which it is called because it tells of the protective presence of Christ which Patrick experienced through his trials and challenges.  It reminds us of the words from Psalm 139:5-6: “You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high I cannot attain it. Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence.”

Everywhere, Christ is: inside and out, whatever direction we turn, whether we are looking up or down.  We are surrounded by many things - air to name the obvious. When we are in the sun we are surrounded by warmth.  If you are ever in a car with a fantastic stereo system playing or in a theatre where the noise is coming from all sides, you feel the music inside and out – it reverberates in your body, surrounds you.  We know what it is like to be surrounded by a hug or by a warm blanket, cocooned into its softness.  To be surrounded by Christ means to be surrounded by his love all the time, like the sun’s warmth, like the most joyful music we can hear - a love that protects our souls.  No matter what is going on around us, Christ has surrounded us first as a shield to protect our souls from harm.  Try praying St. Patrick’s blessing in the morning and in the night.  In the morning, it covers you like a suit of armor to face your day; in the night, it covers you with peace so that you end your day and go to sleep enfolded in Christ’s love.  There is nowhere we can go from God’s spirit. 

Prayer:  As with an embrace, you surround us with Christ’s love, O God.  May we feel and trust in your protection morning, noon and night.  Amen.

[1] Attributed to Saint Patrick

[2]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick

Written by Rev. Susan Roddey, Director of Spiritual Life at Abernethy Laurels