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.
Saint Patrick’s Breastplate, part 6 (For full poem, click Lent 2016: St. Patrick’s Breastplate above)
I don’t summon armies or guns. I don’t ask for a tank or razor wire. I summon heaven, sun, moon, sea, and rock. I summon the love of the cherubim and the prayers of the patriarchs. I bind unto myself God’s wisdom, eye, ear, word, and hand. These I place between me and all the evils I can imagine – all the things I fear.
Even if they can protect my body momentarily, weapons cannot protect me from what I fear. What damages or takes life, what brings fear into the lives of other living creatures, none of it can save me from fear. Only things that give life and love do that, and it is these that stand between me and the evils of this world – the evils others imagine and create, and the evils I imagine and create.
Through the eyes of fear I see only threat and danger under the stars. I cannot see the beauty of this world or the grace of living in it. I am afraid of the neighbors beyond my locked door because they might mean me harm. I see nothing else.
There is evil in the world. There is evil in me. Fear fosters it in both places. So I place the goodness of creation and the God who created it between me and those evils. I ask Christ to shield me, to give me the strength to see the world through the eyes of love. To see through the eyes of God. They are the same.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or a sister whom they have seen, cannot love God who they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also. I John 4: 18-21, NRSV