One of my favorite "go to" prayer books is Prayers of Hope/Words of Courage by Francis Xavier Nguyên Văn Thuân. He wrote many of his prayers and meditations on scraps of paper while imprisoned by the Vietnamese government for 13 years (beginning in 1975.) In 2001 he became a Cardinal. He died in 2002. Here are a couple of my favorites from his book:
The value of work is not in the effort exerted or in the fruits of that effort. The human person is not a machine. Our greatness lies in exercising our gift of intelligence. Far from making us slaves, our work is a continuation of God's creation by making us participants in the work of God. Our work makes both nature and life more beautiful.
Lord, teach me the virtues of work:
the patience of a sculptor modeling a statue,
of a weaver making a blanket,
or of a seamstress bent over fabric.
Teach me the vivacity of a young person at a computer,
the perseverance of a farmer in a field,
the tenacity of a mechanic repairing a car,
the dignity of a mother cooking for her family,
the tenderness of a nurse.
If I cherish my occupation and respect those I serve and yet do not know,
smiling and showing my satisfaction
and joy from the depths of my heart,
offering the fruit of my labor for others use,
then all I do becomes my work,
and my life will be a gift
offered to the Lord through those I encounter.
#83 God and the work for God
Because of your infinite love for me, Lord, you called me to follow you, to be your child and your disciple.
Then you entrusted me with a unique mission that has the same requirements as every mission: that I be your apostle and witness.
Still, my experience has taught me that I confuse these two realities: God and God's work.
God gave me the responsibility to carry out certain works--some sublime and others more modest; some noble and others more common.
And so, with a commitment to pastoral work in parishes and with young people in schools, with artists and laborers, in the world of the press, radio, and television, I gave my entire energy to everything and poured out all my abilities.
I did not spare anything, not even my life.
But, while I was so passionately immersed in action, I met the defeat of ingratitude, the refusal to collaborate, the incomprehension of friends, the lack of support from leaders, illness and infirmity, insufficient resources . . .
And, then when I happened to enjoy success, when I was the object of everyone's approval, praise and affection, I was suddenly transferred to another position.
So there I was, dazed, groping about as if in the dark of night:
Why, Lord, are you abandoning me?
I do not want to desert your work
I want to complete it.
I must finish building the Church . . .
Why do others attack your work?
Why do they withdraw their support?
Kneeling before your altar, close to the Eucharist, I heard your answer, Lord:
"It is me you are supposed to be following, not my work!
If I will it, you will finish the work entrusted to you.
It matters little who takes over
your work after you;
that is my business.
Your business is to choose me!"
You often smile on me--unsolicited. I hear your voice even in the messiness of life. You bring comfort and your physical presence in the Eucharist. Sometimes I am bursting with joy, sometimes I am speechless and overwhelmed by your outpouring of grace. Let me radiate your presence in humility and gratitude when I encounter you in a loving surprise.
Deliver me, O Jesus,
Deliver me, O Jesus,
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,
From the desire of being popular,
From the fear of being humiliated,
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated, *slandered
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being suspected
(Mother Teresa, Meditations from A Simple Path)
From Magnificat, June, 2008
Holy Apostle Paul, help me at the beginning of this new day to offer my body and the whole of my life as a living sacrifice to God. Do not permit me to conform myself to this age but rather, by your intercession, may I be transformed by the renewal of my mnd. Through this renewal help me to judge what is God's will, what is good, pleasing, and perfect. For the one whom I seek and serve is Jesus Christ who is the Lord, now and for ever. Amen.
From Mother Teresa, Meditations from a Simple Path comes this prayer by John Henry Cardinal Newman. It is just beautiful . . .
Dear Lord, help me to spread thy fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Thy spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Thine.
Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul.
Let them look up and see no longer me but only Thee O Lord!
Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as Thou shinest; so to shine as to be a light to others.
The light O Lord will be all from Thee; none of it will be mine;
It will be Thou, shining on others through me.
Let me thus praise Thee in the way Thou dost love best, by shining on those around me.
Let me preach Thee without preaching, not by words but by my example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to Thee.
If you have trouble with the Thee's and Thou's, use what's most comfortable for you. I suggest you memorize this prayer and carry it in your heart, enabling you to "spread thy fragrance" of Christ, everywhere you go.
I received this prayer while on retreat. If you have someone in your life that you would like to pray for, this is really very nice. Reflect slowly on each line as you fill their name in the blank:
PERSONAL LORD'S PRAYER
Who is in heaven
Holy be your name in _____________
Your kingdom come in ________________
Your will be done in __________________
On earth just as if _________________were with you now in heaven.
Give ______________all that he/she needs to sustain and enrich his/her life . . .
Forgive _____________for he/she is weak like the rest of us,
And help _____________to forgive others.
Have ______________not be led into the evil one's lies of despair, fear and hate.
But deliver ____________into your loving arms.
And may ______________'s joy be found in your kingdom
In your power and in your glory, forever and ever. Amen
If you are a preacher or a teacher, these lines from Deuteronomy 32:1-3 are wonderful for private prayer while you are preparing:
Give ear, O heavens, while I speak; let the earth hearken to the words of my mouth! May my instruction soak in like the rain, and my discourse permeate like the dew, like a downpour upon the grass, like a shower upon the crops: For I will sing the Lord's renown. Oh, proclaim the greatness of our God!
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
Father, creator of unfailing light, may our lips praise you; our lives proclaim your goodness; our works give you honor, and our voices celebrate you for ever.
Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours
You made man in your image and renewed him in Christ, mold us into the likeness of your Son. Pour out your love through the Holy Spirit, heal our hearts, wounded by hatred and jealousy. Today grant work to laborers, bread to the hungry, joy to the sorrowful, grace and redemption to all men.
Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours