Monday, October 15, 2012

Lord, Thou knowest better than I myself that I am growing older

Today is the feast day of St. Teresa of Avila, the first woman named Doctor of the Church, a mystic, and one who was not afraid to speak bluntly. Once, when she had fallen off her horse on a journey, she is said to have scolded God with, “it is no wonder you have so few friends, considering how you treat the ones you have!” (I’ve always loved that quote!)

Anyway, this morning on the radio I heard this prayer attributed to her. I had seen the prayer before, but never heard that it was hers. Be that as it may, it’s a great prayer:

Lord, Thou knowest better than I myself that I am growing older and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.
Release me from craving to straighten out everybody's affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all; but Thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end. Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains; they are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by.
I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cock-sureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.

Keep me reasonably sweet**, for a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places and talents in unexpected people; and give, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.

** in some versions, I have seen this phrase added: “I do not want to be a saint - some of them are so hard to live with” . I’ve never agreed with that, because I don’t think most saints are unpleasant. Truly holy people I’ve met are gracious and charming!

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