A Ray of Brightness

st.thomasaquinasOne prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas stands out as a perfect preface to intellectual work. Before you study, before you write, before you speak, pray this prayer:

Ineffable Creator, Who, from the treasures of Your wisdom, have established three hierarchies of angels, have arrayed them in marvelous order, above the fiery heavens, and have marshaled the regions of the universe with such artful skill, You are proclaimed the true font of light and wisdom, and the primal origin raised high beyond all things.

Pour forth a ray of Your brightness into the darkened places of my mind; disperse from my soul the twofold darkness into which I was born: sin and ignorance.

You make eloquent the tongues of infants. Refine my speech and pour forth upon my lips the goodness of Your blessing. Grant to me keenness of mind, capacity to remember, skill in learning, subtlety to interpret, and eloquence in speech. May You guide the beginning of my work, direct its progress, and bring it to completion. You Who are true God and true Man, who live and reign, world without end. Amen

St. Thomas situates himself between the spheres of Holy Wisdom and man’s wisdom. This prayer is a call, first to humility (Where were you when I ‘marshaled the regions of the universe with such artful skill’?) and, only then, to greatness (keenness, skill, subtlety, eloquence). As students of the Wisdom that precedes us, and as conduits of whatever wisdom we possess, we, likewise, stand between.

Communicators are mediators of a glory we can only roughly appropriate. We, nevertheless, must make the attempt.

Oh Lord, grant me a ray of Your brightness so that my own soul may be enlightened and, thus, others may see You!

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