The Feast of the Angelic Doctor

January 28, 2013

Much can be said about the great insight Saint Thomas Aquinas can offer those considering a religious vocation, especially one in the Order of Preachers–indeed, much already has, on these very cyber-pages (like here and here, for example). On this his feast day, however, I would like simply to offer a prayer he composed “for ordering a life wisely” (ad vitam sapienter instituendam), an act which is at the very heart of discovering one’s vocation and becoming a true follower of our Lord. Saint Thomas is said to have recited this prayer daily before an image of Christ, and imitating him in this regard is an excellent practice for anyone considering a Dominican vocation (or anyone at all, for that matter).

Saint Thomas Aquinas,
Carlo Crivelli, 15th cent.

O merciful God, grant that I may
desire ardently,
search prudently,
recognize truly,
and bring to perfect completion
whatever is pleasing to You
for the praise and glory of Your name.

Put my life in good order, O my God.

Grant that I may know
what You require me to do.

Bestow upon me
the power to accomplish Your will,
as is necessary and fitting
for the salvation of my soul.

Grant to me, O Lord my God,
that I may not falter in times
of prosperity or adversity,
so that I may not be exalted in the former,

St. Thomas Aquinas (San Marco Altarpiece),
Fra Angelico, 1440

nor dejected in the latter.

May I not rejoice in anything
unless it leads me to You;
may I not be saddened by anything
unless it turns me from You.

May I desire to please no one,
nor fear to displease anyone,
but You.

May all transitory things, O Lord,
be worthless to me
and may all things eternal
be ever cherished by me.

May any joy without You
be burdensome for me
and may I not desire anything else
besides You.

May all work, O Lord,
delight me when done for Your sake

St. Thomas Aquinas (San Domenico Altarpiece),
Fra Angelico, 1425

and may all repose not centered in You
be ever wearisome for me.

Grant unto me, my God,
that I may direct my heart to You
and that in my failures
I may ever feel remorse for my sins
and never lose the resolve to change.

O Lord my God, make me
submissive without protest,
poor without discouragement,
chaste without regret,
patient without complaint,
humble without posturing,
cheerful without frivolity,
mature without gloom,
and quick-witted without flippancy.

O Lord my God, let me
fear You without losing hope,
be truthful without guile,
do good works without presumption,

Temptation of St. Thomas Aquinas,
Diego Velazquez, 1632

rebuke my neighbor without haughtiness,
and–without hypocrisy–
strengthen him by word and example.

Give to me, O Lord God,
a watchful heart,
which no capricious thought
can lure away from You.

Give to me
a noble heart,
which no unworthy desire can debase.

Give to me
a resolute heart,
which no evil intention can divert.

Give to me
a stalwart heart,
which no tribulation can overcome.

Give to me
a temperate heart,

The Apotheosis of St. Thomas Aquinas,
Francisco de Zurbarán, 1631

which no violent passion can enslave.

Give me me, O Lord my God,
understanding of You,
diligence in seeking You,
wisdom in finding You,
discourse ever pleasing to You,
perseverance in waiting for You,
and confidence in finally embracing You.

Grant that
as penance
I may be afflicted by Your hardships now,
through grace
I may rely on Your blessings on the way,
and in glory
I may enjoy You fully
in the Kingdom of Heaven.

You Who live and reign,
God, world without end.


(taken from Devoutly I Adore Thee: The Prayers and Hymns of St. Thomas Aquinas, Sophia Institute Press)

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