"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick and the TSA

The Transportation Security Administration is supposed to protect air travelers from terrorism. Given the results of various tests since 2002, its utility probably lies less in keeping weapons off planes than in reassuring, by its clumsy intrusiveness, a public anxious to be reassured. My confirmation saint, St. Patrick, also reassures me. By most accounts, such as Thomas Cahill's, he composed his justly loved Breastplate prayer to ward off "the spells of women and smiths and druids" as well as of demons directly. Believing I faced no specific, unseen personal enemies, I used to use it less as self-defense and more as just a beautiful prayer. I was wrong. Now I use it for both purposes. On my spiritual journey, he's an important part of my own personal TSA.

I picked "Patrick" as my confirmation name when I was 10 because even then I had an inchoate sense that I had a vocation to teach people about the Trinity, specifically. As crude an image as it had to be for his illiterate, heathen audience, I could not get his three-leaf clover out of my mind. I still can't. Every time I see clover I am reminded of my vocation. I doubt I have fulfilled it as intended.

That's why I pray with the Breastplate and many similar aids. To fulfill my vocation as intended, which is doubtless a greater thing than I see, I must press on with my spiritual journey with as much protection as possible against whatever would terrorize me out of it. As the world grows ever more nihilistic, we all need to be doing that. You have many TSA agents to pick from. Let us thank God for the one we celebrate today.
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