the pastoral prayer

Saint Aelred of Rievaulx

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



Thou knowest my heart, Lord;
Thou knowest my will
is that whatever Thou hast given Thy servant
should be devoted wholly to their service,
and spent for them in its entirety;
and I myself, moreover, would be freely spent for them.
So may it be, O Lord, so may it be.
My powers of perception, and of speech,
my work time and my leisure,
my doing and my thinking,
the times when things go well with me,
                                                                the times when they go ill,
my life, my death,
my good health and my weakness,
each single thing that makes me what I am,
the fact that I exist, and think, and judge,
let all be used, let all be spent for those
for whom Thou deignedst to be spent Thyself.
Teach me Thy servant, therefore, Lord,
teach me, I pray Thee, by Thy Holy Spirit,
how to devote myself to them, and how
to spend myself on their behalf.
Give me, by Thine unutterable grace, the power
to bear with their shortcomings patiently,
to share their griefs in loving sympathy,
and to afford them help according to their needs.
Taught by Thy Spirit, may I learn
to comfort the sorrowful, confirm the weak, and raise the fallen;
to be myself one with them in their weakness,
one with them when they burn at causes of offence,
one in all things with them, all things to all of them,
that I may gain them all.
Give me the power to speak the truth straightforwardly,
and yet acceptably;
so that they all may be built up in faith, and hope, and love,
in charity and lowliness, in patience and obedience,
in spiritual fervor and submissiveness of mind.
And, since Thou hast appointed this blind guide to lead them,
this untaught man to teach, this ignorant one to rule them,
for their sakes, Lord, if not for mine,
teach him whom Thou hast made to be their teacher,
lead him whom Thou hast bidden to lead them,
rule him who is their ruler.
Teach me, therefore, sweet Lord,
how to restrain the restless, comfort the discouraged,
and support the weak.
Teach me to suit myself to everyone
according to his nature, character, and disposition,
according to his power of understanding, or his lack of it,
as time and place require, in each case,
as Thou wouldst have me do.
And, since the weakness of my flesh
—or it may be my lack of courage and my
                                                                heart’s corruption—
prevents my edifying them by labours of watching and fasting,
I beg Thy bounteous mercy that they may be edified
by my humility and charity, my patience and my pity.
May my words and teaching build them up,
and may they always be assisted by my prayers.

Forward to PART EIGHT

© 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.