Personal Mission Field/Preparation
Today I gird myself with the power of the order of the cherubim, with the obedience of angels, with the ministry of archangels, with the expectation of resurrection for the sake of a reward, with the prayers of the patriarchs, with the predictions of the prophets, with the precepts of the apostles, with the faith of the confessors, with the innocence of holy virgins, with the deeds of righteous men.
- Anonymous, Faeth Fiada (Irish, 8th century)
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
- Psalm 91.11
It's easy to dismiss a poem like Faeth Fiada ("Patrick's Breasplate") as merely a curious cultural relic of little more than historical value. But these poems were used by serious people with a serious faith in Christ to prepare themselves for the day ahead.
Let's look at all that's packed into just this one stanza, which served generations of Celtic believers as a guide in preparing for a day of facing all manner of temptation and trial. First we note the invocation of angels, and the expectation that those angels will be sent and will do their job of protecting the believer. They are obedient to the One Who sends them as ministering spirits. Anyone who really believes this - and the Word does teach it - is likely to know a bit more boldness during the day than, well, most of us do.
Second, the view to the end: "expectation of resurrection." The psalmist would say "what can man do to me?" The worst that could happen on any given day would be that we die, but if we're focused on the promise of resurrection, we can say, like Paul, that dying would be "gain", for beyond this life the reward of heaven waits.
Next, the one preparing for the day with this poem expresses his confidence that the saints and angels in heaven ("patriarchs") are praying for him, a notion derived, perhaps, from texts like Revelation 5.8 and 8.1-4. Talk about encouragement!
Finally, note the confidence expressed in the Word of God (prophets and apostles), the faith of the Church (confessors), the holiness of virgins, and all of this - all this preparation - to pursue a path defined by the good deeds of righteous men.
I would say this Celtic dude had a great quiet time the day his preparations included all this.
So we can just dismiss this breatplate poem, or perhaps we can learn something from it about how to prepare for a day of living the faith once for all committed to the saints with a view to turning our world upside-down for Jesus Christ.
Which do you choose?
Today at The Fellowship of Ailbe
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