Our Saints have given us many beautiful prayers. We are familiar with some and not so familiar with others.
One of my favorite prayers was written by Saint Thomas Aquinas. It is a long prayer and many may not be familiar with it in its full version, but most will recognize the beginning paragraph which is often quoted. The prayer begins with this verse:
“GRANT me, O merciful God, to desire eagerly, to investigate prudently, to acknowledge sincerely, and to fulfill perfectly those things that are pleasing to Thee, for the praise and glory of Thy holy Name.”
This verse ardently pleads with God to help us live our lives according to His will and for His glory. But this is only its beginning. Because of its length, I can neither include nor discuss every verse, but I have chosen some parts for us to reflect upon. (Also included is a link to the prayer in its entirety.)
Saint Thomas prays for the virtue of humility with these words:
“Grant me, O Lord my God, the grace that I may not falter either in prosperity or adversity. May I not be unduly lifted up by the one, nor unduly cast down by the other…………. Let me not desire to please anyone nor fear to displease anyone save only Thee.”
Knowing that both pride and hopelessness are sinful, Saint Thomas asks for the grace and strength to remain in balance during both good and bad times. If we are honest with ourselves, we understand that maintaining this balance is not an easy task and one that can be accomplished only by the Grace of God.
Here, he prays for the difficult virtue of detachment. Understanding that love of material things takes our focus away from God. He reminds us that wanting and achieving wealth and possessions, can easily lead to an obsession with things of this world and become idols, rather than working toward the ultimate goal, which is His Kingdom.
“Let all things transitory seem vile in my eyes, and all things eternal be dear to me. Let me tire of that joy which is without Thee and to desire nothing that is outside Thee. Let me find joy in the labor that is for Thee; and let all repose that is without Thee be tiresome to me.”
Recognizing Our Sinfulness
“Grant me, my God, the grace to direct my heart towards Thee, and with a firm purpose of amendment, to grieve continually my failures.”
Once again, Saint Thomas asks for the grace to keep the eyes of his heart focused upon God, knowing that if he is able to do this, he will turn away from sin. But he does not stop at that request. We sometimes commit sins without realizing them. We may gossip, be unkind or uncharitable. He asks that he become aware of his sins, great or small, and that his sorrow will lead him to penance. Many saints have called us to pray this prayer each evening before going to sleep.
“O Lord my God, make me obedient without complaining, poor without despondency, chaste without stain, patient without grumbling, humble without pretense, cheerful without dissipation, mature without undue heaviness, quick-minded without levity, fearful of Thee without abjectness, truthful without duplicity, devoted to good works without presumption, ready to correct my neighbor without arrogance, and to edify him by word and example without hypocrisy.”
I believe that this verse beautifully asks God to help us with all virtues. It explains that with a dedication to obedience, other virtues should follow. Although he does not say it here, we know that Our Lady possessed all these virtues and looking to her would be great help in achieving them.
We must, of course, understand that in our humanness, we can never achieve this degree of sanctity. To believe it possible would be spiritually arrogant. Our lives are a constant walk toward a greater degree of service and love of God. This is why we plead to Our Father to help us.
The remainder of the prayer follows in the same way; a plea for a watchful heart which will never be distracted from Our God, humility, willingness to follow through suffering, and using our gifts for God’s glory.
Please read this beautiful prayer in its entirety here.
Marilyn Nash for Holyart.com