Committing prayers and passages to memory may sound quaint in the age of Google, but remains a powerful way to inhabit and embody the wisdom of our forebears. It can be helpful, too, to say these prayers (and any prayer) reverently, a little more slowly than we might normally speak, in order to let their personal meaning arise within us. Here are a few that I return to in times of thanksgiving, inspiration, repentance and need. You might also send me yours!
Soul of Christ, sanctify me. Body of Christ, save me. Blood of Christ, inebriate me. Water from the side of Christ, wash me. Passion of Christ, strengthen me. O good Jesus, hear me. Within your wounds, hide me. Suffer me not to be separated from you. From the malignant foe defend me. At the hour of my death call me, and bid me come to you, that with your saints I may praise you forever. Amen.
Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen)
Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary – pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will – all that I have and call my own. You have given it all to me. To you, Lord, I now return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me.
With great devotion and new depth of feeling, I hope and beg, O God, that it be given me, to be the servant and minister of Christ the consoler, the minister of Christ the healer, the liberator, the enricher, the strengthener – to be able through you to help many – to console, liberate, and give them courage – to bring them light, not only for their spirits, but for their bodies – and to bring as well other helps to the soul and body of each and every one of my neighbors. I ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(The Prayer of a First Jesuit was attributed to St. Peter Faber, co-founder of the Society of Jesus)
I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
(and, striking their breast, they say:)
through my fault, through my fault, throughout my most grievous fault,
(Then they continue)
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
and all the Angels and Saints,
and you my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.
(The absolution of the Priest follows:)
May almighty God have mercy on us,
forgive us our sins,
and bring us to everlasting life.
I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In choosing to do wrong
and failing to do good,
I have sinned against you
whom I should love above all things.
I firmly intend, with your help,
to do penance, to sin no more,
and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.
In his name, my God, have mercy.
Familiar, inescapable creator – precious friend: Come, teach me.
(This short form is easy to memorize – but follow the link for its full text.)
Father: in the name of Jesus, send us the Spirit.
(This prayer was common in the time of St. Peter Faber, and used often by him.)
A Prayer for Spiritual Freedom
O Spirit of God, we ask you to help orient all our actions by your inspirations, and carry them on by your gracious assistance, that every prayer and work of ours may always begin from you, and through you be happily ended.