A Medieval Prayer for the World

Today, the Church remembers Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1167), abbot of the Cistercian abbey of Rievaulx in Yorkshire. I wanted to share with you a beautiful passage from his De institutione inclusarum (The Formation of Anchoresses) on praying—and more—for the world.

What is more useful than prayer? Give it. What is more gracious than pity? Spend it. Hold the whole world in one embrace of love; consider the good to congratulate them, the wicked to grieve over them; behold the afflicted and compassionate the oppressed; call to mind the miseries of the poor, the groans of orphans, the desolation of widows, the sorrows of those who weep, the needs of pilgrims, the vows of virgins, the perils of men on the sea, the temptation of monks, the cares of the clergy, the hardships that soldiers endure. Open your heart to all, spend your tears on them, pour forth your prayers for them.*

It seems that we need these prayers more than ever today.

*For Crist Luve: Prayers of Saint Aelred Abbot of Rievaulx, trans. Rose de Lima (Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff, 1965), p. 10.


2 Replies to “A Medieval Prayer for the World”

  1. Amen to that. Do you also know that 9th-century Irish prayer ‘give me a well of tears, my sins to hide, or I am like the arid Earth, unsanctified’?

    Let us water the Earth with tears of true compassion and prayer, and tend God’s garden with our hands, treading lightly and singing his praise.

    Thanks for your generous sharing of material, Lisa.
    Michelle (univ. of London, formerly curator of medieval mss, bl, Author on Lindisfarne Gospels, Aslake map etc)

  2. Thank you for the beautiful Irish prayer, Michelle – I didn’t know it before. I’ve read some of your books and I’m grateful that you stopped by my site to share and comment.

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