the pastoral prayer

Saint Aelred of Rievaulx

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



Look, look at my soul’s wounds!
Thy living and effective eye sees everything.
It pierces like a sword, even to part asunder soul and spirit.
Assuredly, my Lord, Thou seest in my soul
the traces of my former sins,
my present perils,
and also motives and occasions for others yet to be,
Thou seest these things, Lord,
and I would have Thee see them.
Thou knowest well, O Searcher of my heart,
that there is nothing in my soul that I would hide from Thee,
even had I the power to escape Thine eyes.
Woe to the souls that want to hide themselves from Thee!
They cannot make themselves not to be seen by Thee,
but only miss Thy healing and incur Thy punishment.
So see me, sweet Lord, see me!
My hope, Most merciful, is Thy lovingkindness;
for Thou wilt see me, either as a good physician sees,
intent upon my healing,
or else as a kind of master, anxious to correct,
or a forbearing father, longing to forgive.
This, then, is what I ask, O Fount of Pity,
trusting in Thy mighty mercy and Thy merciful might:
I ask Thee, by the power of Thy sweetest Name,
and by Thy most holy Manhood’s mystery,
to put away my sins and heal the languors of my soul
mindful only of Thy goodness, not
of my ingratitude.
Further, against the vices and the evil passions
which still assault my soul,
(whether they come from past bad habit, or
from my immeasurable daily negligence,
whether their source is in the weakness
                                                                of my corrupt and vitiated nature,
or in the secret tempting of malignant spirits)
against these vices, Lord, may Thy sweet grace
afford me strength and courage;
that I may not consent thereto, nor let them reign
in this my mortal body,
nor yield my members to be instruments of wickedness.
And, as I thus resist,
do Thou the while heal all my weakness perfectly,
cure all my wounds, and put back into shape
all my deformities.
Lord, may Thy good, sweet Spirit
descend into my heart,
and fashion there a dwelling for Himself,
cleansing it from all defilement both of flesh and spirit,
impouring into it the increment of faith, and hope, and love,
disposing it to penitence, and love, and gentleness.
May He quench with the dew of His blessing
the heat of my desires,
and with His power put to death
my carnal impulses and fleshly lusts.
In labours, and in watchings, and in fastings,
may He afford my fervor and discretion,
to love and praise Thee, to pray and think of Thee;
and may He give me power and devotion
to order every act and thought according to Thy will,
and also perseverance in these virtues
unto my life’s end.

Forward to PART SIX

© 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.