Patricia Hofer

Christ within, beside, before.

            For me, the simplest, most inspiring truth is the wonder of Christ’s presence. And the words of the second poem on St. Patrick’s Breastplate assure me daily of that presence. That’s why I’ve added the poem as an essential last page to this book. In its simple, most basic way, this prayer asks Christ to be “with me” and “within me.” I grew up with the idea that God was present everywhere, but I still felt pretty much on my own at times. My daily walk with the Lord has changed all of that. Rather than being passive or disinterested, Christ is always trying “to win” more and more of my heart and your heart—trying to draw each of us away from the selfish concerns of this world. 

            Then, too, I like feeling the Saviour’s love and support “beside me.” This happens most when I’m alone and quiet. But I’ve also been aware of Christ’s nearness when I turn everything over to him while serving others. When I’m overwhelmed, I pray, “You do this, Lord, I can’t.” And amazing things happen. He reaches into people’s hearts, comforting them and giving them joy.

            Another simple and comforting thought from this prayer is that the Lord is “behind me” and “before me.” I can let go of the burdens of the past and my dread of the future because Christ is now and always has been present with me. And, regardless of what I must face, the Lord’s sheltering and protecting presence is “beneath me” and “above me”—“in quiet” and “in danger.”

            These lines attributed to St. Patrick assure us that we are not on a lonely pilgrimage. During illness or loss or abandonment, the Spirit of Jesus, the Living Saviour, is always present “to comfort and restore” us. Oh, the joy and simplicity of such truths! (Living Calm, chapt. 24,

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