Mary and the Saints/My Faith/Teen Faith/Theology

The Secret Weapon of a Teenage Slave

Story time! Grab your blanket or favorite comfort item (iPhones are not an option).

Ready?

Once there was a teenager. He was happy and young and free and didn’t worry about things like “religion” or “God” or “right and wrong.” His parents were Christian, but they didn’t teach him much about it. And then, one day his carefree life came to a halting stop when he was kidnapped by pirates.

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Yes, pirates.

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No, this is not the story of Peter Pan (but there is a man with a hook later on… weird…)

The pirates took this teenager back to their homeland across the sea and sold him into slavery. As a slave, he was forced to tend sheep for a rich, pagan man.

Now at this point we have 1) a teenager, 2) taken from his home, 3) all alone in a foreign land, 4) isolated in a field all day and night as a slave shepherd.

And you thought chemistry class was rough.

Seriously though, can you imagine being in this teen’s situation? How would YOU react? I would cry. And then break sticks and throw rocks. And then cry some more out of loneliness and sadness and boredom because I’m alone in a field.

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What did he do? How do you handle it when you have no idea if you’ll ever see your home and family again? What keeps you going and positive when you’re isolated for years and years in a field with a bunch of dumb sheep? You need a secret weapon.

This teen discovered one.

During the six years he spent as a shepherd, he experienced a powerful encounter with God and it changed everything for him. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, he chose to spend his time in conversation with God through prayer. Instead of feeling isolated, he chose to remind himself of the presence of God all around him. Instead of feeling weighed down by the pagan culture around him, he lived in the glory of what God has done for us all in the history of our salvation.

These were choices that he made that completely transformed the really terrible experience he found himself in. When he finally was able to run away and escape back to his home and family, he became a priest and then went BACK to the land of his slavery to serve the people there. Who does that?!?

Someone convicted by their love of God, that’s who.

He converted tons of them to Christianity and later he became a bishop (complete with a staff/hook), and the patron saint of their country — Ireland.

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This is the story of St. Patrick.

As a teenager who was dealt a tough situation, I feel like he has a lot to teach you and I. He teaches us that sainthood means choosing virtue in the moments when it’s most inconvenient. It’s also about living every day in the reality of God’s presence and the power of all the angels and saints available to us.

St. Patrick’s secret weapon can be yours too. Do you feel isolated and lonely sometimes? Do you feel beaten down and like the world is out to get you? Do you ever feel tempted to pity yourself?

He wrote a prayer (see below) that shows us what kind a guy he was. Imagine St. Patrick praying this every morning. How can you feel like it’s “me against the world” when you start your day like this?

This is the secret: everything God is and has done was for your benefit. Don’t let it go to waste. You have the power, through prayer, to live every moment, every trial, every struggle, every pain… in union with every good God has done. Every grace is available to you; you only have to seek it.

And suddenly, it doesn’t matter what happens to you because you can choose to live a life for God. And that is guaranteed to be a full, joy-filled life (John 10:10).

St. Patrick is praying for you, and so am I.

The Lorica of St. Patrick


I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

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 in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation

St. Patrick (ca. 377)

About the Author

Christina Mead

I'm just striving for sainthood through lots of imperfect ways. I daydream about heaven, where I want to be the patron saint of lifeguards. I think I might paint my nails just so I can pick it off. I wrote a book about Mary and what she taught us about being a Catholic girl. It's called "That One Girl" and I think you'd like it! Follow me on Twitter @christinamead.

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