The Crazy Stable Lenten Prayer-a-Day Edition continues! Just in time for Mass tomorrow, my favorite prayer before receiving the Eucharist. It's by St. Thomas Aquinas, whose mighty theological writings utterly baffled me the few times I tried to read excerpts of them. (That's what I get for not going to a Catholic college.) But the scholar called a "dumb ox" (because he was quiet, portly and obstinate) also created some moving and beautiful prayers.
I know only the last verse by heart. I have been known to read this entire prayer to a roomful of insolent, squirming CCD students who were clearly not sufficiently impressed by their impending First Holy Communion. (Their pitiful textbooks, which would illustrate the chapter on the Eucharist--"a meal celebration"--with photos of birthday parties replete with balloons and cake, didn't help matters.) I would read it with wildly dramatic cadence (that's what I get for taking acting at NYU instead of theology at a Catholic college), until the little rugrats would simmer down and look appropriately awestruck. It does the job at any age.
Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas Before Communion
Almighty and ever-living God, I approach the sacrament of Thy only-begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
I come sick to the doctor of life, unclean to the fountain of mercy,
Blind to the radiance of eternal light, and poor and needy
To the Lord of heaven and earth.
Lord, in Thy great generosity, heal my sickness,
Wash away my defilement, enlighten my blindness,
Enrich my poverty, and clothe my nakedness.
May I receive the bread of angels, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
With humble reverence, with the purity and faith,
The repentance and love, and the determined purpose
That will help bring me to salvation.
May I receive the sacrament of the Lord’s body and blood,
In its reality and power. Gracious God, may I receive
The body of Thy only-begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ,
Born from the womb of the Virgin Mary, and so be received
Into His mystical body, and numbered among His members.
Loving Father, as on my earthly pilgrimage
I now receive Thy beloved Son under the veil of a sacrament,
May I one day see Him face to face in glory,
Who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, forever and ever. Amen.