It’s St Patrick’s Day today! March 17, the day we wear green so we won’t be pinched, (or wear orange if you’re Protestant, but few know that!). There are many traditions and “blessings” that are associated with this observance of this patron Irish saint. The most traditional and well known of all the Irish blessings is “May the road rise up”. It was written a very long time ago, and is often recited at wedding and special ceremonies and sometimes said as a prayer. It goes as follows:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
This is a translation, as this Irish blessing was originally written in the Irish language, but this is the form most commonly spoken today. There are additional verses in the full version, and another version adapted specifically as a travel blessing, but these are the most well-known words.
But what does it mean?
There are three main images in “May the road rise up”. These are the wind, the sun and the rain. Many believe this symbolizes two very important elements of the Irish culture: a love and appreciation for nature and the environment, and also a representation of their religion.
The mention of the wind is often considered to mean the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit came as a “mighty wind” at Pentecost.
The reference to the warmth of the sun suggests God’s Mercy, as in the New Testament it reads “by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven,” speaking of God’s Son, Jesus who died for our sins and rose again to defeat death.
And as nothing can grow without the rain, the line about the rain falling softly in this Irish blessing is believed to be symbolic of God’s ongoing provision for the people.
But what about the patron saint, himself? Here is a snippet from the famous Irish blessing known as St Patrick’s Blessing. I only included a snippet as the full version has an additional 7 verses!
St Patrick’s Irish Blessing
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
It is believed that once upon a time, the patron saint of Ireland had this long Irish Blessing carved upon his breastplate. Whether this is true (as realistically it would have taken up a lot of room to display the whole blessing!) or whether it is simply a symbolic statement of the idea of St Patrick having these words close to his heart, we don’t know for sure. Either way this is a very sweet and very popular Irish blessing. The extract we have included above is the second to last verse as it is probably the most quoted section.
Why the history lesson? I’m a teacher and I love to learn! For this day, March 17, 2022, to be on the day we read about Paul giving a blessing to the believers in Thessalonica is not coincidental. God reminds us once more the importance of the ministry of encouragement—blessing, if you will—that keeps us all growing and going in the ways of the Lord. We need each other’s words of blessed assurances about our Savior and Lord with encouraging words that keep us focused on our faith!
These later saints who became legends have stories of their goodness but we cannot miss the foundation of their goodness and faith—Jesus Christ! Anyone who has encountered the living Christ is never the same again. Encouragement comes from a life transformed by the Three-In-One; Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
Dear Friends, I pray Paul’s blessing for you this day;
“May God our Father himself and our Master Jesus clear the road to you! And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you, just as it does from us to you. May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father when our Master Jesus arrives with all his followers.”
In Jesus Name, For His Glory, Amen! I believe!
1 Thessalonians 3, The Message
1-2 So when we couldn’t stand being separated from you any longer and could find no way to visit you ourselves, we stayed in Athens and sent Timothy to get you up and about, cheering you on so you wouldn’t be discouraged by these hard times. He’s a brother and companion in the faith, God’s man in spreading the Message, preaching Christ.
3-5 Not that the troubles should come as any surprise to you. You’ve always known that we’re in for this kind of thing. It’s part of our calling. When we were with you, we made it quite clear that there was trouble ahead. And now that it’s happened, you know what it’s like. That’s why I couldn’t quit worrying; I had to know for myself how you were doing in the faith. I didn’t want the Tempter getting to you and tearing down everything we had built up together.
6-8 But now that Timothy is back, bringing this terrific report on your faith and love, we feel a lot better. It’s especially gratifying to know that you continue to think well of us, and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you! In the middle of our trouble and hard times here, just knowing how you’re doing keeps us going. Knowing that your faith is alive keeps us alive.
9-10 What would be an adequate thanksgiving to offer God for all the joy we experience before him because of you? We do what we can, praying away, night and day, asking for the bonus of seeing your faces again and doing what we can to help when your faith falters.
11-13 May God our Father himself and our Master Jesus clear the road to you! And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you, just as it does from us to you. May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father when our Master Jesus arrives with all his followers.