Today is the feast of St. Aelred of Rievaulx, probably the best know Cistercian saint of Britain after St. Thomas of Canterbury. Aelred is best known today for his work on charity, friendship, and love, but in his own day was probably better known as a preacher, administrator, and historian who wrote, among other things, the Genealogy of the Kings of the English.
I had forgotten it was his feast until the reading of the Martyrology last night at Compline and then had the nagging sense that there was something in his writings that spoke to the founding of the first Ordinariate. After Compline, I went down to the library and began pulling all of the Aelred volumes from the Cistercian Fathers series. Thankfully, I found what I was looking for rather quickly, which turned out to be St. Aelred’s Pastoral Prayer, in which he as abbot prays for himself and for those who are in his care.
The excerpts below from the Pastoral Prayer make an unusually apt set of supplications for the beginning of the Ordinariate in the UK and those that will follow after.
Sweet Lord, I pray you, is not this your family,
your own peculiar people, that has been led by you
out of the second Egypt, and by you has been
created and redeemed?
And lastly, you have gathered them together
out of all parts, and made them live together
in a house where all men follow a common way of life.
* * *
Hear me, therefore, hear me, 0 Lord my God,
and let your eyes be open on them day and night.
Spread your wings, most loving Lord and shield them
stretch forth your holy right hand, Lord, and bless them;
and pour into their hearts your Holy Spirit,
that he may keep them in unity of spirit and the bond of
chaste in their bodies, lowly in their minds.
May he be there to help them when they pray,
and fill them with the unction and the riches of your
* * *
May the same loving Comforter, when they are being
come swiftly to their aid;
and may he heIp their weakness
in all the straits and troubles of this life.
By the same Spirit make them, lord, to be,
within themselves, with one another, and towards
peaceable and equable and kind,
obedient, servicable, helpful, to each other.
May they be fervent in spirit, rejoicing in hope,
through poverty and fasting, toils and vigils,
silence and repose.
Drive far from them, O Lord, the spirit
of pride and of vain glory,
of envy and of gloom, of weariness and slander,
of distrust and despair,
of fornication and uncleanness,
of discord and presumption.
Be in their midst, according to your faithful promise.
And, since you know what each of them needs,
I pray you, strengthen what is weak in them.
spurn not their frailty, heal that which is diseased,
give joy for sorrow, kindle what is lukewarm,
establish what is insecure in them, that each of them may
know he does not lack your grace in any of his trials and
* * *
I, for my part, commit them
into your holy hands and loving providence.
May no one snatch them from your hand,
nor from your servant's, unto whom you have committed
May they persevere with gladness in their holy purpose,
unto the attainment of everlasting life
with you, our most sweet Lord, their Helper always,
who live and reign to ages of ages. Amen.
(These excerpts are from the translation of R. Penelope Lawson, CSMV, that appeared in The Works of Aelred of Rievaulx, Volume One published by Cistercian Publications as The Cistercian Fathers Series: Number Two, 1971.)
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