Patrick, Bishop, Missionary, Patron of Ireland, c.460
Save me, O God, by your name and vindicate me by your power. Hear my prayer, O God; give heed to the words of my mouth. For strangers have risen up against me, and the ruthless seek after my life; they have not set God before them. Behold, God is my helper; it is the Lord who upholds my life. May evil rebound on those who lie in wait for me; destroy them in your faithfulness.
An offering of a free heart will I give you and praise your name, O Lord, for it is gracious. For he has delivered me out of all my trouble, and my eye has seen the downfall of my enemies.
O God, the heathen have come into your heritage; your holy temple have they defiled and made Jerusalem a heap of stones. The dead bodies of your servants they have given to be food for the birds of the air, and the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the field. Their blood have they shed like water on every side of Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them.
We have become the taunt of our neighbours, the scorn and derision of those that are round about us. Lord, how long will you be angry, for ever? How long will your jealous fury blaze like fire?
Pour out your wrath upon the nations that have not known you, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon your name. For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his dwelling place. Remember not against us our former sins; •
let your compassion make haste to meet us, for we are brought very low.
Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and wipe away our sins for your name’s sake.
Why should the heathen say,
‘Where is now their God?'
Let vengeance for your servants’ blood that is shed be known among the nations in our sight.
Let the sorrowful sighing of the prisoners come before you, and by your mighty arm preserve those who are condemned to die.
May the taunts with which our neighbours taunted you, Lord, return sevenfold into their bosom. But we that are your people and the sheep of your pasture
will give you thanks for ever, and tell of your praise from generation to generation.
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.’ So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.
Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it. And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it. Now, therefore, say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus says the Lord: Look, I am a potter shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Turn now, all of you from your evil way, and amend your ways and your doings.
But they say, ‘It is no use! We will follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of our evil will.’
‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
So again Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
Almighty God, who in your providence chose your servant Patrick to be the apostle of the Irish people: keep alive in us the fire of the faith he kindled and strengthen us in our pilgrimage towards the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.