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All Saints Day Reflection: St. Thomas Aquinas

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.

St Thomas Aquinas, 13th-century Dominican friar and Doctor of the Church, is well-known for his prodigious work, the Summa Theologiae. He is not, however, well-known for his prayers, and perhaps he should be. Of course, some of the prayers he wrote may be more familiar than you think—a few are used today for Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament: the O Salutaris Hostia and Tantum Ergo both came from his hand, as well as the collect for Benediction: “O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament . . . ”

But he wrote more prayers than these, and they, too, are beautiful! Above is the beginning of just one of these—it is said that he prayed this prayer before the image of Christ every single day, begging the Lord for grace and wisdom.

As we work for the promotion and defense of the truth about marriage, and as we teach others about the goodness of God in giving himself to us in the sacraments, and as we thank him for the gift of marriage, let us follow the Angelic Doctor in praying these beautiful words. Let us pray that God may transform our hearts, strengthen and encourage us in our trials, and bring us at last to that land where there is “the cheerfulness of spring, the brilliance of summer, the fruitfulness of autumn, and the gentle repose of winter,” that “life without death and that joy without sorrow where there is the greatest freedom, unconfined security, secure tranquility, delightful happiness, happy eternity, eternal blessedness, the vision of truth, and praise, O God” (from another of Aquinas’ prayers). St Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!

For Ordering a Life Wisely
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, 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 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, 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, which no violent passion can enslave. Give to 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 with Your hardships I may be burdened in reparation here, that Your benefits I may use in gratitude upon the way, that in Your joys I may delight by glorifying You in the Kingdom of Heaven. You Who live and reign, God, world without end. Amen.

[These and other prayers by St Thomas Aquinas can be found in the volume entitled, The Aquinas Prayer Book: The Prayers and Hymns of St. Thomas Aquinas, available from Sophia Institute Press (1-800-888-9344).]

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