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Irish Blessing

posted Mar 16, 2013, 1:10 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Mar 19, 2013, 8:10 AM ]
May the road rise up to meet you…

Ancient Celtic literature frequently used images of nature and everyday life to speak of how God interacts with us. This blessing, whose author and date are unknown, alludes to three images from nature - wind, sun and rain - as pictures of God's care and provision. The "wind" can be likened to the Spirit of God, who comes as a "mighty wind" at Pentecost. The sun’s warmth reminds us “of the tender mercy of our God by which the daybreak from on high will visit us" (Luke 1:78), while the soft falling rain speaks of God's provision and sustenance. Finally, it reminds us we are held safe in God's loving hands as we travel on our journey through life.

A very literal translation of the first line is actually "may your road be successful" while a more idiomatic translation would be "may your journey [through life] succeed."

Jesuit composer Bob Fabing continues his musical setting of this prayer with part of St. Patrick’s Breastplate, or The Lorica, traditionally attributed to St. Patrick during his Irish ministry in the 5th century. Literally meaning “breastplate,” the lorica is a prayer of protection. St. Patrick allegedly composed this hymn in preparation for battle against paganism, when on the summit of the hill of Slane, he kindled the Pascal fire for the Easter Vigil. The Druids made repeated attempts to extinguish the blessed fire, but Divine power shielded the Christian missionaries as they recited this prayer. St. Patrick achieved a glorious triumph.

Father Fabing is the founder of the Jesuit Institute for Family Life Network as well as the director of the 36-Day Program in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius at the Jesuit Retreat House in Los Altos, CA, where he lives. The deep spirituality of his music is the fruit of his many years directing these counseling and spirituality centers.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!