This Saint Patrick’s Day, Ireland – like many parts of the world – is coming to terms with the Coronavirus. Many people are anxious about what lies ahead.
Like others in society, our parishes have been introducing restrictions to help keep people safe, especially those who are most vulnerable. I invite you to join me today in praying the beautiful prayer of Saint Patrick, known as his “breastplate” prayer, in which he invited Christ to surround him with love and protection:
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
The coming weeks and months are going to bring challenges and uncertainty for all of us, as we are reminded of the fragility of human life and of our dependence on one another and on God.
This is a time for an outpouring of the works of mercy towards the sick and vulnerable, and for a spirit of generosity and self-sacrifice, compassion and charity in Ireland, and across the world. It’s hard for people not to be alarmed, but it’s worth remembering that we are never completely isolated or alone.
This is also a time for prayer. Pray for the virtues of patience and perseverance and for the composure to overcome any temptation to despair. Do your best to spread calmness – not panic; serenity – not turbulence; solidarity – not selfishness. Reach out to neighbours and relatives who may feel troubled or alone. Even a simple phone call can make a huge difference. Work to ensure that hope and compassion will prevail.
In turning towards God for protection, as Saint Patrick did, I ask for your prayers in particular for our brave and selfless health workers and for the medical scientists who are searching for a vaccine and better treatments. Pray that government and public health authorities can make wise judgements and decisions about how to limit the impact of the virus, especially on the most vulnerable.
In Ireland we have a strong tradition that God is at our side in time of trouble. It remains important to keep reminding ourselves and others in the coming days that we are never completely isolated: Christ is beside us, before us, behind us, on our right and on our left, beneath us and above us.
Saint Patrick, apostle of Ireland, pray for us.
Dia idir sinn agus an t-olc. – “God between us and all harm”.
Watch a Saint Patrick’s Day message in video format from Archbishop Eamon