Stephen D’Evelyn– On Ableism and Praying Patrick’s Lorica

Several years ago my former line manager – a fellow parishioner and a great Augustine scholar, as it happens–observed that I often looked at opportunities in terms of why I couldn’t do something instead of why I could. She was mystified by this.

There may be psychological reasons for this I have not unearthed yet. But one of them is quite simply that I, like most disabled people to varying degrees, have internalised an ableist outlook. By this I mean I ‘naturally’ look at what I am doing and am not doing against a set of expectations. Those expectations are set by societal norms and are thus based on what ‘fully functioning’ ‘able-bodied (and minded)’ people do.
I have come to realize a much more appropriate standpoint or starting-point is what I am being and doing in themselves and as they connect with others. That is, I take away the metre-sticks, the key performance indicators, the milestones and millstones along the road of midlife crisis. One way I do that is by starting the day with the Lorica or Breastplate prayer attributed to St Patrick. It begins:

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

This prayer thus establishes what I am in terms of praise and prayer–a calling out, invocation. Invocation is open-ended. It is something I do but not something I achieve. And the invocation of the Trinity sets me in the midst of the truth of Christian reality, the tension and dimensions of infinite love within God as Trinity and of God for the world as creature. As a disabled person, a visually-impaired person, a partially-sighted person, I am fully part of that creation, tension, truth, and beauty. It is not my goal , but I can then look at challenges and opportunities in the round and not simply as impossibilities–in the round because these opportunities are part of that open whole of creative love flowing from the Trinity.


2 thoughts on “Stephen D’Evelyn– On Ableism and Praying Patrick’s Lorica

  1. Please help me. I am not sure that I am right. My daughter wrote to me thinking that this would be good for me being a disabled person with MS and not being able to walk. I wrote back with the following :

    Yes, thank you Rachie, as much as I love reading through these things I do not feel any necessity to go through the same routines. I can feel God’s power and strength through merely acknowledging that it is there for me and for anyone who accepts it. It is miraculous but I don’t feel the same necessity to understand and concentrate in depth on the tribune. To me that is man made and God says to me that I have a man made problem in not being able to remember what man has thought that we think that God has given us. But it really does not matter. And for all disabled people this is wonderful.
    Thanks again to my wonderful first born.
    Dad xx


  2. Thanks, Mike, for your thoughtful and forthright response to the post on ableism and praying the Lorica prayer. I think you have expressed something essential that we both experience and all disabled people would, I hope, experience — maybe in different ways.. That immediate sense of God’s loving presence is at the heart of prayer. Thank you again for responding to the post! All best, Stephen


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