The Rev. Dale Grandfield
Trinity, Easton and St. Paul’s, Cleveland Heights, OH

St. Patrick’s Breastplate
The Hymnal 1982, #370

We journey so much nowadays. We hop in the car and drive across town or state or, in a few days, across country. A plane lands us in London or Moscow or Beijing in little time at all. But taking a journey, being a pilgrim, is dangerous – “look both ways” they say, “buckle up,” “inflatable vests are under the seats.” “Stuff happens” – even to good people.

The ancients must’ve been intimately aware the dangers of travel. Journey was more fraught then. Thus St. Patrick’s Breastplate, an early Medieval text translated from Old Irish. The Breastplate, or lorica in Latin, is an incantation – a magic spell that invokes the powers of a deity as protection against evil. Beginning invoking the Triune God’s power against every kind of evil, “I bind” it says, “I bind” again and again: the Name of God, the beauties of the world, the mysteries of Christ’s life. “I bind.”

We are bound in baptism. That is the beginning, path, and the culmination of our pilgrimage. Bound indissolubly to God. And the journey, like the mission, is not ours, but God’s. We can’t stay put, friends, because God is on the move toward God’s reality…


Photo credit: Anne E. Kitch