Thomas Aquinas’ prayer before working

AquinasI recently came across the following prayer of Thomas Aquinas on the Intervarsity site. The “Dumb Ox” is said to have recited it before he began working or preaching. The Intervarsity site expurgated lines 2-7 as the prayer is printed here, perhaps because of a possible confusion over angelic hierarchies. I have re-inserted them because they remind us of God’s immensity as we sit down to what, by comparison with His universe-creating work, are our infinitesimally small tasks.

Ineffable Creator
Who, from the treasures of Your wisdom,
have established three hierarchies of angels,
have arrayed them in marvellous order
above the fiery heavens,
and have marshalled 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.

St. Thomas Aquinas

Published in the Raccolta #764, Pius XI Studiorum Ducem, 1923.


The prayer can also be found, in part, in an alternative and much freer translation here:

Ineffable Creator,
You who are the true source of life and wisdom and the Principle on which everything depends, be so kind as to infuse in my obscure intelligence a ray of your splendor that may take away the darkness of sin and ignorance.
Grant me keenness of understanding, ability to remember, measure and easiness of learning, discernment of what I read, rich grace with words.
Grant me strength to begin well my studies; guide me along the path of my efforts; give them a happy ending.
You who are true God and true Man, Jesus my Savior, who lives and reigns forever.


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