the pastoral prayer

Saint Aelred of Rievaulx

Translated by A Religious of C.S.M.V.
Edited by Matthew Dallman



For when in bitterness of soul
I view my former life,
it scares and frightens me that I should be called shepherd,
for I am surely crazy if I do not know myself
unworthy of the name.
Thy holy mercy is upon me,
to snatch my wretched soul out of the nether hell.
Thou showest mercy as Thou wilt;
Thy pity succours him whom Thou art pleased to pity;
and such is Thy forgiveness of my sin,
that Thou dost not avenge Thyself by damning me,
nor dost Thou even overwhelm me with reproaches;
and, even when Thou dost accuse, Thou lovest me no less.
Nevertheless, I am disturbed and troubled,
for I am mindful of Thy goodness, yes—
but I am not unmindful of my own ingratitude.
See, then,
before Thee is my heart’s confession of the countless sins,
from which Thy mercy has been pleased to free my hapless soul.
My whole heart renders thanks and praise to Thee
with all its might for all these benefits.
But I am no less in Thy debt
for all the evil things I have not done.
For, most assuredly, whatever evil thing
I have not done, it was Thy guiding hand
that made me thus abstain from doing it;
since either Thou didst take away the means thereto,
or else Thou didst correct my inclination,
or gavest me the power to resist.
But what am I to do, O Lord my God,
about the ills whereby, in Thy just judgement,
Thou sufferest Thy servant, the son of Thy handmaiden,
still to be wearied and be overcome?
The things concerning which my sinful soul
is troubled in Thy sight, O Lord, cannot be counted;
yet, for all that,
neither my sorrow for them, nor my care
to shun their repetition is as great
as they demand, and as my will desires.

Forward to PART THREE

© Akenside Press and Matthew C. Dallman, 2016. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher, Akenside Press.