The Prayer of a Dumb Ox

St. Thomas was a huge heavy bull of a man, fat and slow and quiet.

These are the words G.K. Chesterton used to describe the Catholic theologian and philosopher Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). Chesterton goes on to describe Aquinas in this manner, “It will not be possible to conceal much longer from anybody the fact that St. Thomas Aquinas was one of the great liberators of the human intellect . . . Simply as one of the facts that bulk big in history, it is true to say that Thomas was a very great man who reconciled religion with reason, who expanded it towards experimental science, who insisted that the senses were the windows of the soul and that the reason had a divine right to feed upon facts, and that it was the business of the Faith to digest the strong meat of the toughest and most practical of pagan philosophies.” (G.K. Chesterton, Saint Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox. 1933)

The following is a prayer/poem by Thomas Aquinas that is rich in theology and devotion. I hope you find it as relevant, powerful, and as helpful as I have:

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 rest 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
Obedient without protest,
Poor without discouragement,
Chaste without regret,
Patient without complaint,
Humble without posturing,
Cheerful without frivolity,
Mature without gloom,
Quick-witted without flippancy,
Fear You without despairing,
Truthful without duplicity,
Do good works without presumption,
Reprove my neighbor without exulting,
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 virtuous heart,
Which no evil intention can divert.
Give to me a constant heart,
Which no tribulation can overcome.
Give to me a free 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,
Conversation pleasing to You,
Perseverance in waiting for You,
And confidence in finally embracing You.

Grant that
In refining repentance I may be afflicted by Your hardships now,
Through grace I may rely on Your blessings along the way,
And in glory I may enjoy You fully in the kingdom of heaven.

To You who live and reign,

God, forever and ever.