Way back in 2002, when I first began teaching British Literature, I always began the year with “Beowulf”. We talked in class about rune letters and the runic alphabet, and I’d have my students memorize The Rune of Saint Patrick. A beautiful and meaningful prayer, it captures the reason we, as Catholics remember and celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day each year. The legend of Saint Patrick tells us that he “drove the snakes out of Ireland” and into the sea. Of course, as we grow older, we know that snakes were a metaphor for evil, darkness, pagan beliefs and that Saint Patrick was credited with bringing the word of God and the message of Jesus’ power to save to the people of Ireland.
If Saint Patrick were with us today, what would we ask him for protection from? What snakes need to be driven out—from our communities, our schools, our culture, and our country? What message of love and redemption and salvation would he bring into the world as we know it right now? Sadly, we’ll never know for certain what Saint Patrick would have offered protection from if he were here right now. However, as we prepare to celebrate his memory this week, let us take a moment on March 17th to reflect on the words of The Rune of Saint Patrick and to call upon him in prayer. He, like all the saints we venerate in the Catholic Church, are still with us, to provide guidance and love and protection, whenever we lift our voices and hearts in prayer to their memories.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day from Saint Dominic Academy!
In this fateful hour
I place all Heaven with its power,
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And fire with all the strength it hath,
And lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the earth with its starkness:
All these I place,
By God’s almighty help and grace,
Between myself and the powers of darkness.
~The Rune of St. Patrick