the pastoral prayer

Saint Aelred of Rievaulx

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



To Thee, my Jesus, I confess, therefore;
to Thee, my Savior and my Hope,
to Thee, my Comfort and my God, I humbly own
that I am not as contrite and as fearful as I ought to be
for my past sins;
nor do I feel enough concern about my present ones.
And Thou, sweet Lord,
hast set a man like this over Thy family!
Me, who take all too little trouble with myself,
Thou bidst to be concerned on their behalf;
and me,
who never prays enough about my own sins,
Thou wouldst have prayer for them.
I, who have taught myself so little too,
have also to teach them.
Wretch that I am, what have I done?
What have I undertaken?
What was I thinking of?
Or rather, sweetest Lord, what wast Thou thinking of
regarding this poor wretch?
Sweet Lord, I pray Thee, is not this Thy family,
Thine own peculiar people, that has been led by Thee
out of the second Egypt, and by Thee has been
created and redeemed?
And lastly, Thou hast gathered them together
out of all parts, and made them live together
in a house where all men follow a common way of life.
Why then, O Fount of mercy, hast Thou willed
to put such people, souls so dear to Thee,
into the charge of such an outcast from Thy Face?
Was it to satisfy my appetites, to give free rein to my desires,
in order that Thou mightiest have the more against me,
and sentence me with more severity,
and punish me for others’ sins, as well as for my own?
O God most holy, if this were the case,
was it then fair to let so many souls, souls of such quality,
suffer such risk, solely that there might be
more obvious reason for one man’s severer punishment?
For to what greater peril can subjects be exposed,
than to a stupid and sinful superior?
Or—and this is more seemly to expect,
more pleasant to experience from kindness such as Thine—
didst Thou set such a person over Thy household, Lord,
in order that, if it should please Thy goodness,
to rule it well though him,
Thy mercy might be shown, Thy wisdom known,
the excellence of Thy power declared thereby
as Thine alone, not man’s;
and so the wise, the righteous, and the strong
should never glory in their wisdom, righteousness, and strength
as though they were their own;
for, when such persons rule Thy people well,
it is not they, but Thou, that rulest them.
Give not the glory unto us, O Lord, if this be so,
but unto Thine own Name.

Forward to PART FOUR

© 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.