The Prayer of St. Thomas for Purity
This blog is a collection of more than just reflections on doctrine. I’m interested not just in knowing about chastity, but in being chaste. Because of that, I will also collect spiritual practices and prayers related to chastity. Here is St. Thomas’ prayer for purity, which I say every morning.
Prayer for Purity by St. Thomas Aquinas
I know that every perfect gift,
and especially that of chastity,
depends on the power of Your providence.
Without You a mere creature can do nothing.
Therefore, I beg You to defend by Your grace
the chastity and purity of my body and soul.
And if I have ever sensed or imagined anything
that could stain my chastity and purity,
blot it out, Supreme Lord of my powers,
that I may advance with a pure heart in Your love and service,
offering myself on the most pure altar of Your divinity
all the days of my life. Amen.
Written prayers like this are meant to be prayed and to be reflected upon as a catalyst for further meditation and spontaneous prayer. By way of reflection, this prayer (which is an earnest request for chastity) begins with a recognition that our own merits can accomplish nothing. Nothing. I cannot “work hard enough” to become chaste. No matter how hard I try, I cannot, of my own power, become perfectly chaste. If perfect chastity is important to me, that presents a problem.
St. Thomas shows us how to solve that problem when he calls on God, saying “every perfect gift … depends on the power of your providence.” Providence is a complicated and controversial concept, but we can put it simply enough to suggest that God orders the universe for man’s happiness. St. Thomas is offering recognition that we cannot obtain chastity of our own power and we must rely on God’s right ordering of the universe to obtain it.
He drives this home by calling to God in helplessness: “without you a mere creature can do nothing.” Far from being poetic silliness, this is an honest cry to God for help. If my daughter wanted to do something nice for someone and says “can you help? I can’t do it without you,” I wouldn’t consider that sentimental silliness, but instead an honest call for help and reminder of my promises to her as a father. If I, sinful and selfish man, can remember that, how much moreso the perfect Father of all?
After this, St. Thomas (and the pray-er) calls on God to defend “the chastity and purity of [his] body and soul.” It’s as if he’s saying: “see how important this is? But I know I can’t do it- I can do nothing without you. Please, Father, I beg you- save me.” This is no mere request- the pray-er begs the Father for this grace. It is that important.
He then gets specific- “if I have ever sensed or imagined anything that could stain my chastity and purity…” First, he mentioned the things that are not his fault: “if I have ever sensed…” This is so incredibly important today. Even coming to Mass can be an occasion for sin! Men and women dress, speak, and act inappropriately everywhere, and no matter what place we happen to be, there is always the risk that we will passively see or hear something best left for married people.
This prayer forces the recognition that this unintentional sensation still carries with it problems. It could lead to imagination – adultery and fornication in the mind, which Christ says is just as much a sin as adultery and fornication in the flesh. This is no surprise, given the essential unity of the body and soul, so it should be no surprise that we cry out to the Father to blot out those things we have sensed or imagined which could stain our chastity and purity.
And why do we ask God for this grace? Not for its own sake, but so that we may “advance with a pure heart” in his love and service, making ourselves a sacrifice acceptable to him. God wants us, and he will make us pure. St. Thomas teaches us to call out and beg him to do so.
The Prayer to St. Thomas for Purity
Chosen lily of innocence, pure St. Thomas,
who kept chaste the robe of baptism
and became an angel in the flesh after being girded by two angels,
I implore you to commend me to Jesus, the Spotless Lamb,
and to Mary, the Queen of Virgins.
Gentle protector of my purity, ask them that I,
who wear the holy sign of your victory over the flesh,
may also share your purity,
and after imitating you on earth
may at last come to be crowned with you among the angels. Amen.
Please consider praying these two prayers for chastity.
This piece was taken from information gathered from the two sources above expressed by clicking on the respective links.