Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas For Right Ordering: For After Receiving Communion
"Generously Grant to me, O Lord my God, Intelligence in knowing you, Diligence in seeking you, Wisdom in finding you, Conduct pleasing to you, Perseverance in trustingly awaiting you, And Trust in finally embracing you."
For Part One which deals with "Generously Grant to me O Lord my God" click here.
For Part Two which deals with "Intelligence in knowing You, Diligence in seeking You, Wisdom in finding You" click here.
For Part Three which deals with "Conduct pleasing to You, Perseverance in trustingly awaiting You" click here.
And Trust In
Is trust the same thing as belief? In my experience, there can be a gap between belief and trust, and for things I really believe in - and believe in rightly - there’s a place where staying in belief isn’t enough.
A possibly silly, hopefully helpful example: in high school, there was a girl I liked romantically. I believed she liked me the same way, had good reasons for believing it, and I wanted to date her. Before that could happen, I had to share my feelings with her and ask her out, which I had never done successfully before.
I believed she liked me, but I couldn’t be totally sure unless she told me how she felt. I knew that if I was wrong in my belief about her feelings toward me, that not only would I not date her, but it would also mean us dealing with the awkward disconnect of feelings that would follow.
I asked my best friend for encouragement before asking her; making sure I wasn't crazy in the way I was reading her, fretting over what exactly I should say and just commiserating how nervous I was.
Telling her how I felt and asking her out wasn’t quite a leap of blind faith, but it was definitely an act of trust. Believing she liked me was easy, turning that belief into an act of trust was scary. And when she said that she felt the same way, making that act of trust was rewarded.
It’s one thing to believe Jesus is in my life; it’s another thing to apply that to my life and let that belief change the way I live. The analogy limps, but for Catholics, there's an analogy to be made between the Eucharist is and what my best friend was to me; a concrete source of support and encouragement.
When Jesus left us Himself at the Last Supper, and encouraged His followers to, “do this in memory of me,” He didn’t want us to stop at believing in Him; He wanted us to trust that he was really present for us, and to accept the support He offered us, and which He still offers today.
When I look at my mind, heart and actions, in what do they most reflect trust? What’s the difference between believing in God and trusting in God? Going further, what’s the difference between believing God wants a relationship with me and trusting that?
The larger prayer which this section is drawn from is a prayer for right ordering: it’s designed to help the person praying it to make sure one’s priorities are straight, and that their life makes sense in, ‘the big picture'.
Through the lens of the previous section, it’s a prayer designed to help the person praying to trust in the right things. When I trust appropriately in the right things, I start to love the things I ought to love in a better way; my life makes more sense.
The single biggest catalyst for this in my life has been my relationship with the real, living Jesus. He wants so badly for me to be the best version of myself, and that’s true for everyone. The Eucharist is central to this.
The best I can do to see my life in a big-picture context is to think about the end of life. There’s a Catholic tradition of distributing the Eucharist to a person on their deathbed as ‘viaticum’ or ‘food for the road, as a reminder that as they continue on their journey, Jesus will be still calling to them and longing for them.
If I found out my life would end this week, how would I look back on it? Would I feel good about how I’ve ordered it? What things would I have done differently and why? If I have more time, what aspects of my life should I change?
Through this lens, my personal example from above on the difference between belief and trust isn’t so silly. However serious or casual, an embrace - a hug - is a real sign of human intimacy; it’s two people coming together and expressing some level of care for and presence to each other.
This prayer looks to form the person praying in two ways: it looks to prepare a person to embrace God, and it helps a person trust in an embrace with God.
This, by the way, is one way of explaining the celibacy lived by Catholic clergy and religious. Our lives are a witness: all human beings are invited to an intimacy with God that, while it can include human romantic intimacy, ultimately goes beyond it.
Christians believe that God doesn’t give out casual embraces; God longs to embrace me as my deepest and most intimate friend, and God longs to embrace everyone in that way. This fits this entire prayer section - and actually the entire series - together.
One who reflects on the subject matter of this prayer bends their life more and more to God. This person becomes more mindful of God’s love, and how to prepare to accept God’s love in their lives. The Eucharist, in many ways, is the answer to this prayer.
Written by Br. James Pierce, Cavanaugh, OP
Grant me O Lord,
A mind to know You
A heart to seek You
Wisdom to find You
Conduct pleasing to You
Perseverence in searching for You,
And a hope of finally embracing You.
Gen’rously Grant oh lord Jesu’:
Intelligence in knowing you,
And Diligence in seeking you,
And Wisdom, too, in finding you.
Grant I may do what pleases you,
Persever’ in those doings too,
Mind, heart and wisdom born anew.
Grant steadfast waiting, trusting you.
Grant trust itself of truest true:
A trust that trusts completely you,
And ‘waits your full embrace, Jesu’.
Dominican Friars of St. Louis, MO
The Dominican Friars living at St. Dominic Priory in St. Louis, MO are members of both the Central U.S. Province and the Southern U.S. Province. Our student friars go through their formation together at the St. Louis Studium, otherwise known as the House of Studies.