St Thomas Aquinas  (1225-1274) ON PRAYER

[This is the ? of a series of posts featuring a saint, mystic, or writer to include some of their thoughts on prayer as well as a prayer written by or ascribed to him or her.  He is the most influential theologian in the Church’s second millennium. However, he stopped writing theology after he had a mystical experience.] 

It is clear that he does not pray, who, 
far from uplifting himself to God, 
requires that God shall lower Himself to him, and 
who resorts to prayer not to stir the man in us to will what God wills, 
but only to persuade God to will what the man in us wills.

In the life of the body a man is sometimes sick, 
and unless he takes medicine, he will die. 
Even so in the spiritual life a man is sick on account of sin. 
For that reason he needs medicine so that he may be restored to health; 
and this grace is bestowed in the Sacrament of Penance.

The prayerless soul makes no progress whatever.

Without prayer we become deaf to the voice of divine love and 
become confused by the many competing voices asking for our attention. 
When we try to become very still, 
we often find ourselves so overwhelmed by our noisy inner voices 
that we can hardly wait to get busy and distracted again. 
Our inner life often looks like a banana tree full of jumping monkeys! 
But when we decide not to run away and stay focused, 
the monkeys may gradually go away because of lack of attention,and the soft gentle voice calling us may gradually make itself heard. 
 
A Prayer by St.  Thomas Aquinas
O creator past all telling,
you have appointed from the treasures of your wisdom
the hierarchies of angels,
disposing them in wondrous order 
above the bright heavens,
and have so beautifully set out all parts of the universe.

You we call the true fount of wisdom
and the noble origin of all things.
Be pleased to shed 
on the darkness of mind in which I was born,
The twofold beam of your light
and warmth to dispel my ignorance and sin.

You make eloquent the tongues of children.
Then instruct my speech 
and touch my lips with graciousness.
Make me keen to understand, quick to learn,
able to remember;
make me delicate to interpret and ready to speak.

Guide my going in and going forward,
lead home my going forth.
You are true God and true man,
and live for ever and ever.

[Saint Thomas Aquinas stained glass window. Cathedral of Saint-Rombouts, Mechelen (Belgium).    This image, originally posted to Flickr, was reviewed on 13 October 2009 by the administrator or reviewer Leoboudv, who confirmed that it was available on Flickr under the above license on that date. CC-BY-SA-2.0]

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About Paul Wharton

I am a cradle Catholic, a native West Virginian, and a priest since April 24, 1982. Spiritual Direction has made a tremendous difference in my life and I encourage people to try it out. My motto is "Progress not perfection." I am grateful that God has done for me what I could not do for myself.
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