A prayer from St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380):
Eternal Trinity, You are a deep sea. The more I enter You, the more I discover of You; and the more of You I discover, the more I know to look for You.
God, You are voracious, and in Your depths the soul is satisfied, yet I always remain hungry for You and thirsty for You, Eternal Trinity, longing to see You with the light in Your Light.
As the deer longs for a stream’s living water, my soul longs to escape from the prison of my problematic body. I want to see You in truth, absolutely. How long will You hide Your face from my eyes?
A prayer from Henri Nouwen:
Help me, O Lord, to let my old self die, to let die the thousand big and small ways in which I am still building up my false self and trying to cling to my false desires. Let me be reborn in you and see through you the world in the right way, so that all my actions, words, thoughts can become a hymn of praise to you.
I need your loving grace to travel on this hard road that leads to the death of my old self and to a new life in and for you. I know and trust that this is the road to freedom.
Lord, dispel my mistrust and help me become a trusting friend.
A prayer from Mechthild of Magdeburg (ca. 1210 – ca. 1285):
Heavenly Father, thank you for creating me.
Jesus Christ, thank You for saving me.
Holy Spirit, thank You for making me clean.
Holy Trinity—whole and undivided—remember my days
of trusting in You,
and send me a merciful death
that frees me from all worry.
Into Your capable hands I commend my spirit.
A prayer from Frederick Buechner:
Lord, catch me off guard today.
Surprise me with some moment of
beauty or pain.
So that at least for the moment
I may be startled into seeing that you
are here in all your splendor,
Always and everywhere,
Within this life I breathe.
A prayer from St. Richard of Chichester (1197-1253):
Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which you have given us; and for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us.
O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen.
A prayer from St. Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510):
Lord, I give myself to You as a present.
I don’t otherwise know what to do with
who I am.
So please let me exchange this weak and fragile self
for Your goodness.
I place it in Your hands.
You’re the only one who can hide it in Your love and so rule
Busy me so much with Your kind Self
I’ll have no time or place or inclination for anything or
A prayer for Advent from Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153):
Let Your goodness, Lord,
appear to us, that we, made in Your image,
conform ourselves to it.
In our own strength we cannot imitate Your majesty, power, and wonder;
nor is it fitting for us to try.
But Your mercy reaches from the Heavens,
through the clouds, to the earth below.
You have come to us as a small child,
but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts,
the gift of eternal love.
Caress us with Your tiny hands, embrace us with Your tiny arms,
and pierce our hearts with Your soft, sweet cries.
A Posadas prayer for Advent:
Divine and eternal Word, who descended from the Father into the heart of the ever Virgin Mary, your love for humankind leads you to Bethlehem where you are born at midnight in a poor and humble stable.
In truth, thousands of angels accompany you on this journey, and yet we, whom you came to save and lead to that Bethlehem of eternal joy, stubbornly turn away from you.
Forgive us, God and Lord of the universe, and help us to walk alongside Mary and Joseph, thus giving us the courage to fight against and triumph over every adversity. Amen.
Read more about the tradition of Las Posadas here.
An evening hymn for Advent from the 8th century:
Come, Sun and Savior, to embrace
Our gloomy world, its weary race,
As groom to bride, as bride to groom:
The wedding chamber, Mary’s womb.
At your great Name, O Jesus, now
All knees must bend, all hearts must bow;
All things on earth with one accord,
Like those in heav’n, shall call you Lord.
Come in your holy might, we pray,
Redeem us for eternal day;
Defend us while we dwell below,
From all assaults of our dread foe.
Advent begins this Sunday, December 3. To prepare, we are praying with the help of Henri Nouwen:
Master of both the light and the darkness,
send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do
seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things
look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways
long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy
seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness,
yet seeking the light.
To you we say,
“Come Lord Jesus!”