Ante Studium – A Prayer by St. Thomas that We Would Use Today

St. Thomas Aquinas was said to have frequently utilized this prayer (presented below in English and Latin) before speaking, studying, and teaching. We would do well to put the supplication to use in similar situations that involve these three activities.

A Prayer Before Study

Ineffable Creator,
Who, from the treasures of Your wisdom,
have established three hierarchies of angels,
have arrayed them in marvelous order
above the fiery heavens,
and have marshaled the regions
of the universe with such artful skill,

You are proclaimed
the true font of light and wisdom,
and the primal origin
raised high beyond all things.

Pour forth a ray of Your brightness
into the darkened places of my mind;
disperse from my soul
the twofold darkness
into which I was born:
sin and ignorance.

You make eloquent the tongues of infants.
refine my speech
and pour forth upon my lips
The goodness of Your blessing.

Grant to me
keenness of mind,
capacity to remember,
skill in learning,
subtlety to interpret,
and eloquence in speech.

May You
guide the beginning of my work,
direct its progress,
and bring it to completion.

You Who are true God and true Man,
who live and reign, world without end.


Ante Studium

Creator ineffabilis,
qui de thesauris sapientiae tuae
tres Angelorum hierarchias designasti,
et eas super caelum empyreum
miro ordine collocasti,
atque universi partes elegantissime disposuisti,

tu inquam qui
verus fons
luminis et sapientiae diceris
ac supereminens principium

infundere digneris
super intellectus mei tenebras
tuae radium claritatis,
duplices in quibus natus sum
a me removens tenebras,
peccatum scilicet et ignorantiam.

Tu, qui linguas infantium facis disertas,
linguam meam erudias
atque in labiis meis gratiam
tuae benedictionis infundas.

Da mihi
intelligendi acumen,
retinendi capacitatem,
addiscendi modum et facilitatem,
interpretandi subtilitatem,
loquendi gratiam copiosam.

Ingressum instruas,
progressum dirigas,
egressum compleas.

Tu, qui es verus Deus et homo,
qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum.




“For every century in the life of the Church, there have been places of persecution. In many instances, the persecution has included terrible, physical violence and even martyrdom. Rather than the world evolving into a more and more mellow environment, the persecution has actually accelerated. In the twentieth century, more Christians were martyred than in the previous nineteen centuries put together! Hopes that the world would mature and come to a more civilized and gracious demeanor have certainly not been realized. Increasingly, as the realities of Christendom have faded into a memory, there have been a number of forces assaulting Christians: Secularism, Radical Islam, and Paganism.”

Much, much more here. Must read material!

11 Years Ago Today – Thanking Our Father in Heaven for Yet Another Year

Originally published  in 2014, following is an edited version with new observations.

Am thankful that today marks another milestone for which God Himself only is due praise and glory. Here is the recap from a few years ago. Please make sure to visit the testimony link. 11 years!! It is overwhelming to recount the benefits this far down the road.

Now for a 2016 reflection on the continuing blessings of my 2005 cerebral hemorrhage.

1) The swiftly sudden onset of this terrifying illness continues to remind me of the boundless preciousness of life.

2) Even bad moments in life contain untold worth, and, gathered together in concerted contemplation, lead a person to realize how very truly present God always is in the lives of His children. All of life’s moments are of inestimable value.

We do very well to recall the truth of truths of the presence. Scripture references are plentiful, i.e. Psalm 16:11, 23: 5, 51:11, 90:8, 95:2, 105:4, 114:7, 139:7, Jeremiah 3:17, Jonah 1:10, Matthew 28:20, John 14:6,23, Hebrews 9:24, Revelation 7:17 among many more. Examine these, and you will be humbled and thankfulness will build in your heart and mind.

3) It is impossible for me to overemphasize the always quality/quantity of God’s presence. Turns out this is an expansion of the wonder of the above observation.

At the beginning, middle, and end of every day, the LORD is with his beloved children! AMEN!

4) The LORD’s presence is marked by the overwhelming awareness of a simultaneous, phenomenal manifestation of ἀγάπη and holiness paired and inseparably interwoven together. Two attributes that are in actuality one. All of a single piece.

5) Reality without God is an utterly ruinous, dark state of being.

6) Reality without the acknowledgement of God’s presence is a soul-destroying existence. Seek (in prayer and ἀγάπη) the welfare of your soul and that of others.

7) Reality with the active seeking of God’s face is of greatest preciousness. The pearl of great price.

Seeking, being loved by, and loving God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit is our greatest occupation. Loving (ἀγάπη) all others is the true and necessary consequence of our being loved by God.

Thanks be to the Holy and Loving God!

It is my fervent prayer that you be blessed throughout the whole of the year of our Lord 2016!

Henri Nouwen – Out of Solitude, Conclusion

Nouwen was an extraordinarily gifted spiritual writer. Here’s a passage from his Out of Solitude, Conclusion that provides some very powerful reasoning for prayer by means of withdrawal to the lonely place.

(Mark 1:35) ” ‘In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there.  When Simon and his companions found him, Jesus said: “Let us go—to the neighboring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.”

The words which Jesus spoke in these neighboring country towns were born in the intimacy with the Father. They were words of comfort and of condemnation, words of hope and of warning, words of unity and of division. He dared to speak these challenging words because he did not seek his own glory: “If I were to seek my own glory,” he says, “that would be no glory at all; my glory is conferred by the Father, by the one of whom you say, ‘He is our God,’ although you do not know him” (John 8:54). Within a few years Jesus’ words brought about his rejection and death. But the one who had spoken to him in the lonely place raised him up as a sign of hope and new life.

When you are able to create a lonely place in the middle of your actions and concerns, your successes and failures slowly can lose some of their power over you. For then your love for this world can merge with a compassionate understanding of its illusions. The your serious engagement can merge with an unmasking smile. Then your concern for others can be motivated more by their needs than your own. In short: then you can care. Let us therefore live our lives to the fullest but let us not forget to once in a while get up long before dawn to leave the house and go to a lonely place.”


Praying should take ALL our energies

In what appears below, please note the use of the koine Greek word ἀγαπήσεις translated shall love. Because of the ambiguities that profligate from 21st century notions/concepts/applications of the English word love, I use the Greek to convey the overwhelming richness of the source of love who shows us the vastness, depth, height, breadth, and enveloping quality of the wholeness and holiness of Godly love. See 1 John 4: 7-12.

Mark 12:30 (ESV) >  And you ἀγαπήσεις (shall love) the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

It is a glory-filled privilege to pray.  With that in mind, and with a focus upon how much we involve ourselves in the ἀγαπήσεις of the Lord our God, the following came to me during what I would call a personal episode of contemplative habitude.

with a heart filled with devotion, mind replete with wisdom from God’s Holy Word, spirit abounding in the Holy Spirit, a soul full of joy! Pray with all that makes you you. ~the Reverend Michael Trent Shaw

Grace, mercy and peace,


It Is Very Human to Pray

David Ireland in his “On Faith” article “Why Prayer Is the Most Human Thing We Can Do”:

“In fact, the most human thing we can ever do is pray. We are most human — virtuous, morally grounded, and generous with our love — when we have regular times on our knees. The most hope-filled and resilient people on the planet are those who give themselves to prayer. The weakest person is one without prayer. Prayerlessness is an admission that you don’t need God’s help. You can go it alone. Such a posture weakens you and keeps God at arm’s length.”

Read the whole thing here.