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.

Amen.

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.

Amen.

 

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.”

AMEN!

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,

Michael+

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.

A Prayer for Increase in Righteousness and for Righteous People

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. ~James 5:16b

Gracious Lord,

In your word is the precious promise of great power to righteous prayers. Grant most merciful Father, for your name’s sake, a great increase in righteousness for and among and emanating outward from the sheep of your pasture. More righteous and more righteousness bestow upon them, Good Lord, that Your kingdom come, Your will be done, and that the saving power of Your ἀγάπη be manifest in real transforming glory!

All for Your sake, and in the mighty name of Your Son our Savior, Jesus Messiah,

AMEN!

Intercessors, please pray for more righteousness and for more righteous people.

For Such a Time as This – Pray All Y’All!!! – Praying with Fire

Beloved in Christ Jesus,

There are times in all our lives as Christians when we only pay lip service to prayer. We hold back. We encounter and sometimes even seek out noisy or appealing distractions. Our interest in prayer begins to atrophy and wane. We lack the umph for praying we seem to possess with ease when we are interested in and especially zealous for a person or a just cause.

At this point, instead of seeking the presence…and the mind…and the heart…and the wisdom…and the will…and the knowledge…and the agapé of our LORD God, we tend toward thoroughgoing idealism. In this position, we can miss the mark, if only by “just that much”.

With this tiny bit of background, I am going to take a rather tentative step in sharing some of my philosophy of prayer. I guess this will take shape as a series of articles. Please bear with me as we begin this exploration. Along the way, there will be encouragement, admonition, pleading, illustrations, inspiration, and (hopefully) enlivenment/rekindling of our Praying with Fire lives.

Where do we start? I submit that a position of humility puts us in a place of extraordinary potential. We Christians probably are at our most powerful when kneeling, not only or not just physically, but especially ontologically. That is kneeling with our whole hearts, mind, souls, strengths. Living beings. Humble before the sight of the LORD. Be-ing before the LORD as our true selves. Dependent. Contingent. Broken. Willful. Sin-soaked. Repentant.

With that in view let us use (with our whole hearts, minds, souls, and strengths) the prayer of General Confession from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men: We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word and deed, Against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable.

Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, Forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please thee In newness of life, To the honour and glory of thy name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Grace and peace,

Michael +

©2012 Fr. Michael Trent Shaw

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