We offer here a more traditional selection of prayers. Given our busy day-to-day lives, we are not suggesting that you take on all of them, just choose one or two that appeal to you. You could use them in the morning and evening, to begin and end the day with the Lord.
You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.
Faith is vital in prayer. When Jesus performed miracles, He invariably said, ‘Your faith has saved you!’ This is somewhat surprising. You might think that He would have been more impressed by people’s love or their other virtues, but, no, it was faith that He responded to. In fact, when He visited Nazareth, we are told that He was unable to perform many miracles there because there was so little faith in that town. So it seems He was prevented by people’s lack of faith. Perhaps this is because, when we demonstrate faith, it shows that we trust God and this removes any barriers that may be in our hearts. As St Mark tells us, ‘Everything is possible for anyone who has faith’ (9:23).
An ‘Act of Faith’ is not so much a prayer for faith, as an assertion of our belief. In saying this prayer, we give due honour to God and also put our faith into practice. This very exercise helps to deepen and strengthen our faith.
I believe in You and in all Your Church teaches,
because You have said it and Your Word is true.
The ‘Act of Hope’ articulates that our hope is fuelled by our belief. We believe the promises of Christ, because He is God and speaks the truth. Hope is also strengthened by confidence in His infinite power.
Perhaps it is nourished most of all by our trust in God’s mercy. Mercy loves when love is not deserved. If we were to get what we truly deserve, we would have no hope. But we need have no fear of Him or the future.
It might seem that faith and love are more important. But actually it is hope that bolsters up our faith and our love. In the nineteenth century, Charles Péguy wrote a poem in which there were three sisters who had joined hands – Faith and Love are the big sisters with the little girl, Hope, in the middle. Looking on, it seemed that Faith and Love were helping the little girl but, as they got nearer, it was Hope, running ahead, who brought her sisters along. Hope reminds us that we are reaching towards a greater goal than the more immediate ones. It urges us to keep going. Our ‘Act of Hope’ is not so much a prayer for hope, as an articulation of the hope we already have, trusting that in exercising this hope, it will grow.
Nothing therefore can come between us and the love of Christ, even if we are troubled or worried, or being persecuted, or lacking food or clothes, or being threatened or even attacked.
Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love ‘the Lord Your God with all your heart’ (Mark 12:29). He continued, ‘You must love your neighbour as yourself’ (Mark 12:31). However, love is not about how we feel. We make the decision to love and then carry through with it. We may feel that we don’t love God with all our heart. Still, we must aspire to it and keep the ideal before our eyes, to inspire us to keep trying. God deserves our best. Our ‘Act of Love’ reinforces these sentiments in our hearts and helps to strengthen our resolve to love. Clearly, we cannot do this without God’s grace.
From the depths of your heart love God.
My God, because You are so good,
I love You with my whole heart,
and for Your sake,
I love my neighbour as myself.
Give me again the joy of Your help,
With a spirit of fervour sustain me.
One of Jesus’ most popular stories is the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15). It reveals the true picture of the Heavenly Father, who watches out for His children, running out to meet them. We also see His young son, rehearsing his lines – ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ However, the father, who is slow to anger and rich in mercy, does not let him finish his speech, but runs out to embrace him and reinstates him with his dignity as his son. Similarly, we often reject the loving advances God makes towards us, even in spite of ourselves. In Psalm 50, which is said to have been composed by King David after he had committed adultery and murder, we see how liberating repentance is. King David realised the enormity of what he had done and turned to the Lord, trusting that he would not be rejected.
In praying our ‘Act of Contrition’, we repent of the hurt caused by our betrayals, both of God and of our brothers and sisters. We ask for His grace, so that we may be strengthened interiorly and be energised to make a new beginning, a fresh start.
I am very sorry I have sinned against You,
because You are so good,
and with the help of Your grace I will not sin again.
The ‘Our Father’, or ‘The Lord’s Prayer’, as it is also known, holds pride of place among all other prayers. It is what Jesus taught the disciples when they said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray’ (Luke 11:1). Therefore, it is a precious gift from our Saviour to us and we should treasure it as such.
A good way to pray the ‘Our Father’ is to imagine Jesus is standing beside you, perhaps holding your hand, or with His arm around you. The fact that the prayer starts off with ‘Our Father’ and not ‘My Father’ is an indication that we are not alone when we pray this prayer.
It is through what Jesus accomplished for us that we have been adopted as children of the Father and, in this prayer, we can go to the Father, accompanied by Jesus. If we fully realised what a privilege this is, to call God (the Creator of the universe) our ‘father’, we would spend our whole lives giving thanks for it. In fact, when St Francis used to pray the ‘Our Father’, he was so overwhelmed by this fact that he often got no further than the words ‘Our Father’ and stayed with those words in love and adoration.
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
This devotion focuses on the great merciful love of Jesus for us, which caused Him to suffer and die for us. It revolves around trust in the Lord and appealing to Him for mercy. It has many wonderful promises attached to it. In addition, the repetition of the simple invocations has a soothing effect, especially on those who are dying. Regarding the chaplet, Our Lord said to St. Faustina:
Encourage souls to say the Chaplet which I have given you …
Whoever will recite it, will receive great mercy at the hour of death …
When they say this chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between My Father and the dying person, not as the just Judge but as the Merciful Saviour …
Priests will recommend it to sinners as their last hope of salvation.
Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy …
I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy …
Through the Chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will.
To pray the Chaplet, you may use a Rosary beads.
Begin with One Our Father, one Hail Mary and the Apostles Creed.
On the Father bead, pray the following:
Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.”
On the ten Hail Mary beads, pray the following:
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
Repeat for five decades.
To conclude the chaplet, say:
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world” (three times)
Saint Francis set an example of a tender devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. In his biography, it is recounted that when he pronounced or heard the name ‘Jesus’, he was filled with joy ‘interiorly and seemed to be altered exteriorly as if some honeysweet flavour had transformed his taste, or some harmonious sound had transformed his hearing’ . For Saint Francis, pronouncing the Name of Jesus was a means of entering into a loving communion with the Son of God. It can be the same for us.
In fact, pronouncing the Holy Name of Jesus with love and trust is the shortest of prayers. In a busy world such as our own we can find ourselves in difficult situations unexpectedly. The Name of Jesus, spoken with love and reverence, can then be a source of comfort and support when all else fails. For those struggling with suicidal thoughts or addictions it is a particularly powerful help when temptations are strong.
Jesus is our friend and helper on life’s journey. He cares about our every need and loves us unfailingly and constantly. Calling on His Name makes Him present to us in a very real way. He wants to effect in our lives what His Name means. He wants to save us. It is a particular blessing to have the Name of Jesus on our lips as we pass from this world to the next. The prayer we offer here was composed in 2014 to mark the centenary of the beginning of a new wave of devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus in Ireland which began in our monastery.
‘I tell you most solemnly anything you ask for from the Father,
He will grant in My name.’
Jesus, yours is the name above all names;
we offer you our heartfelt praise and gratitude.
Deepen in us an abiding reverence for your Holy Name.
Jesus, Saviour, heal the wounds within
that our sin and fear have inflicted.
Set us free from all that hinders us from
rejoicing in your boundless love
and sharing your goodness with others.
Jesus, Friend, draw us ever closer to you.
We entrust all we carry in our hearts
to your abundant mercy.
Jesus, Lord, pour out
the Holy Spirit upon your people
that our lives may overflow with your grace,
our days be filled with your love,
and all our actions shine with your light.
Many of us in years gone by will remember seeing a picture or statue of the Sacred Heart. It was usually given a prominent place in most Irish homes and was often accompanied by a little red lamp.
The origins of this devotion go back to the thirteenth century and our own St Bonaventure. In following the footsteps of St Francis, St Bonaventure desired to reveal to people the beauty of the Incarnation of Our Lord, and what better way than to speak of the love in the Heart of Jesus for each one of us.
Four centuries later, Our Lord appeared to St Margaret Mary Alacoque in France. When resting her head on His chest, she could hear His beating Heart. He asked her to spread this devotion and attached twelve promises to those who prayed to him under the title of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. June is the month of the Sacred Heart.
The most recognisable phrase associated with this devotion is: ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus I place all my trust in You.’
You have said, O Divine Jesus,
‘Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find,
knock and the door shall be opened unto you.’
Relying on these promises, I come with confidence
during this novena to beg of You the favours I need
(make your request here)
From whom shall I ask, Lord Jesus, if not from You,
whose Heart is an unfailing source of grace.
Most loving Heart of my God, I believe in Your power,
I believe in Your knowledge,
I believe in Your personal love for me.
And therefore, O Sacred Heart of Jesus,
I place all my trust in You.
In her third letter, St Clare says, ‘Cling to His Most Sweet Mother.’ For St Clare, Our Lady is always mentioned in relation to Jesus. He is always the focus of her attention but, being a woman deeply in love, she understands the depth of the love that exists between them – and, being the ‘mother’ of at least fifty sisters in her monastery, she knew what was involved in this role. A mother always has time for all her children and has all their interests at heart. She unifies the family, is a refuge when we are afraid, the one we can always turn to, no matter how much we think others may not love us or, indeed, how much we may not love ourselves! Jesus gave His mother to us as our mother in a special way on the Cross, and so St Clare knew that we can all approach Our Lady in complete confidence, knowing that we will not be turned away and that she will draw us ever closer to her Son.
When we pray to Our Lady, we seek to develop a relationship with her. We take time to talk to her and share our worries and joys with her. We confide in her, let her become a true mother to us. If we ‘cling’ to her, as St Clare suggests, she won’t let us down.
Full of grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Holy Mary, mother of God,
Pray for us sinners now
And at the hour of our death.
Look to the star – call upon Mary!
In danger, in difficulty or in doubt,
think of Mary, call upon Mary,
keep her name on your lips,
never let it pass out of your heart.
Following her footsteps,
you will not go astray;
praying to her,
you will not fall into despair;
thinking of her you will not err.
While she keeps hold of your hand,
you will not fall,
you will not grow weary,
you will have no fear.
Enjoying her protection,
you will reach the goal.
Mary, Star of the Sea, pray for us.
Remember O most gracious virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection,
implored your help or sought your intercession
was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto you,
O Virgin of virgins, my mother;
to you do I come, before you I stand,
sinful and sorrowful;
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petition,
but in your mercy hear and answer me.
If the ‘Our Father’ is Jesus’ gift to us, then most certainly the Rosary is Our Lady’s gift to us, her children. In the Rosary, we meditate on the mysteries of the life of Jesus in the company of Mary. It is an entirely scriptural prayer, the simplicity of which is deceptive.
It is a form of prayer that is particularly suitable for people with busy lives. The rhythmic repetition of the prayers has a calming effect on us. The Rosary is at the service of opening our hearts to Jesus that He may dwell there and that we may come to know His love which surpasses all knowledge.
In a world where the value of silence is little appreciated, praying the Rosary together gives a ‘window’ of opportunity for silence, when the family is together. A family that tries to do this can carve out a quarter of an hour in the day where there is silence, which creates a deep bond in the Spirit, even without there being any awareness that this is happening. It may not seem that it actually is a silent time in the strict sense, but these moments spent praying with Our Lady subtly deepen the unity of the family.
The Rosary is a meditative prayer on the mysteries of Christ’s life. The complete Rosary consists of four sets of mysteries – the Joyful Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries, the Mysteries of Light and the Glorious Mysteries – each prayed on different days of the week.
The Rosary begins with the Apostles’ Creed prayed on the crucifix of the rosary beads. Then an ‘Our Father’, three ‘Hail Marys’ and a ‘Glory be to the Father’ are prayed on the beads which connect the crucifix to the circle of beads.
Then follow the mysteries of the Rosary. Each mystery is announced and may be followed by a short pause for reflection on that mystery.
The decade begins with one ‘Our Father’, ten ‘Hail Marys’ and one ‘Glory be to the Father’. The idea is that as we pray these prayers, we reflect on the particular mystery from the life of Christ, in the company of Mary our mother. According to custom the ‘Fatima Prayer’ may then be said, and the next mystery is then announced and prayed in the same way and so on.
When the five mysteries are completed, one ‘Our Father’, one ‘Hail Mary’ and one ‘Glory be to the Father’ are added for the pope’s intentions. Then the ‘Hail, Holy Queen’ prayer is said.
The Birth of Our Lord
The Presentation in the Temple
The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple
The Agony in the Garden
The Scourging at the Pillar
The Crowning with Thorns.
The Carrying of the Cross
The Baptism of Jesus
The Wedding Feast of Cana
The Proclamation of the Kingdom
The Institution of the Eucharist
The Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and Our Lady
The Crowning of Our Lady as the Queen of Heaven
The Apostles’ Creed
Hail, Holy Queen
I believe in God, the Father Almighty
Creator of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
He descended into hell;
on the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from there He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen.
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins,
save us from the fires of hell;
lead all souls to heaven,
especially those in most need of Your mercy.
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy;
hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope!
To you do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
to you do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy towards us;
and after this our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of your womb,
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God. R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.
O God, whose only-begotten Son,
by His life, death and resurrection,
has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life;
grant we beseech you,
that meditating on these Mysteries of the most holy rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
we may both imitate what they contain,
and obtain what they promise,
through the same Christ our Lord.
This prayer is a wonderful way to bring our hearts and minds to the Lord during the day. It is traditional to pray it at 6 a.m., 12 noon and 6 p.m. – literally at morning, noon and night! It has the effect of sanctifying our day as we begin it (at daybreak), during the course of the day (by pausing to pray at midday) and by ending our day in thanksgiving at 6 p.m., which equates to sundown. ‘The Angelus’ focuses on the mystery of the Incarnation of the Lord and reaches its climax with the breathtaking proclamation of St John, ‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.’ When we pray this prayer, we pray that the implications of Jesus becoming one with us, in order to save us, may be fully realised in our lives.
In ‘The Angelus’, Our Lady is held up to us as a model, for her prompt and whole-hearted response to the Lord, ‘Let what you have said be done to me’ (Luke 1:38). We ask that her prayers may help us to respond as she did. We pray that the Lord will pour forth His grace into our hearts, so that by the power of His passion, we may be brought to the glory of His resurrection. Praying ‘The Angelus’ is also an opportunity for us to be more ‘bold’ about our faith: stopping for a few minutes for this prayer is a simple but powerful witness to our belief.
V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
The ‘Hail Mary’
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to Your Word.
The ‘Hail Mary’
V. And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.
The ‘Hail Mary’
V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.
Pour forth, we beseech You, O Lord, Your grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Your Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His passion and cross be brought to the glory of His resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
May the divine assistance remain always with us and may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
St Joseph was chosen by God to be the spouse of Mary. In the scriptures, he is revealed as a strong yet gentle man. While he experienced inner turmoil on learning of Mary’s pregnancy, he showed a readiness of will, like Mary’s, with regard to what God asked of him through the Angel, who informed him of the origin of the unborn Child.
He was a man of tremendous courage and initiative, shown when he travelled to Egypt to protect the little baby Jesus from Herod’s soldiers who slaughtered all babies around Bethlehem, thus ensuring that this child, the promised King of Israel, would be spared.
At Knock Shrine in County Mayo, Ireland, St Joseph appeared together with Our Lady and St John, the only time he is known to have appeared to anyone. He came as a tall, silent and protective figure, casting his gaze towards Our Lady and Jesus, who came as the Lamb of God. He reveals himself as truly humble, someone who is powerful with God – though how could he be otherwise: he was chosen by God to be the earthly father of His Son, Jesus.
His principal feast day is celebrated on 19 March but he is also honoured as patron saint of workers and that feast day is held on 1 May. St Joseph is also the patron saint of the universal church and the dying.
O glorious St Joseph,
You who have power to render possible things that are for us impossible,
come to our aid in our present trouble and distress.
Take this important and difficult affair under your particular protection,
that it may end happily.
O dear St Joseph,
all our confidence is in you since you are so powerful with Jesus and Mary.
Let it not be said that we would invoke you in vain.
The saints are like older sisters and brothers who care about our welfare and intercede for us with God for our needs when we ask them. In fact our bond with them deepens and enriches our relationship with Christ. The saints are those who remained faithful to the teaching of Jesus in the ordinary circumstances of their everyday lives and their example encourages us on our own journey of life. They demonstrated by their lives the transforming power of God’s love, grace and mercy. Their holiness was confirmed when the Church pronounced them saints.
St Clare is an example of a saint who followed the monastic way. She had great devotion to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Her prayer of intercession brought comfort and healing to many. In tune with the Spirit, she had that inner strength and conviction that radiated to all who sought her out.
Blessed St Clare,
You trusted in the Blessed Sacrament as your only protection.
In your hour of need you heard a voice from the Sacred Host:
‘I will always take care of you.’
We entrust our needs to you, especially
(here mention requests)
Help us to trust Him as you did.
Enkindle in us a tender love for Jesus and Mary.
Intercede for our families, our friends, our youth
and all those who need our prayers.
We pray for our church, our country and our suffering world.
O Angel of God my guardian dear,
To whom God’s love commits me here,
Ever this day (night) be at my side,
To light and guard, to rule and guide.
Almighty Lord God,
You have brought us to the beginning of another day.
Strengthen us with Your grace,
so that during this day we may not fall into any sin,
but may direct all our thoughts, words and actions,
to accomplish Your Holy Will.
Through Christ our Lord.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
I give you my heart and my soul,
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
assist me now and in my last agony,
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
may I breathe forth my soul in peace with you.
Into Your hands Lord,
I commend my Spirit.
Lord Jesus, receive my soul.
Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus,
I put my conscious mind, my unconscious mind,
my subconscious mind,
my thoughts, my memory,
my emotions and my words
under the protection of
the Precious Blood of Jesus.
Establish Your Lordship in me
and keep me as Your own.
Keep watch, dear Lord,
with those who work, or watch, or weep this night,
and give Your angels charge over those who sleep.
Tend the sick, Lord Christ,
give rest to the weary, bless the dying,
soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted,
shield the joyous,
and all for Your love’s sake.
This prayer was written by St Francis:
Most High, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me true faith, certain hope
and perfect charity,
sense and knowledge, Lord,
that I may carry out Your holy and true command.
Though not written by him, this prayer is attributed to St Francis, as it reflects the dispositions of his heart.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy,
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace.
The ancient spiritual tradition of the Church, explicitly connects the enclosed-contemplative life to the prayer of Jesus "on the mountain", or solitary place not accessible to all but only to those whom he calls to be with Him, apart from the others.
The enclosure therefore, even in its physical form, is a special way of being with the Lord, of sharing in Christ's emptying of Himself by means of a radical poverty, expressed in renunciation not only of things but also of space, of contacts, of so many benefits of creation.