Any prayer or virtuous action is a way to help the whole world. But St. Catherine of Siena’s prayer packs an extra punch; it echos the earnestness and trust of Abraham when he repeatedly bugged God: “But what if only 15 good men were found? …Did I say 15? …Um, what if only 10 were found?”
Like Abraham, Catherine addresses her plea to God the Father. But Catherine goes one better. She is bold in her trust to ask for the whole shebang, on account of Jesus Christ, who already paid for everything she asks for. She has the humility to admit she’s part of the problem, but is audacious enough to be part of the solution as well.
If you want to help everyone in the whole world today, get in front of a picture of Jesus, grab a hankie, and pray aloud with me:
My sweet Lord, look with mercy upon your people and especially upon the mystical body of your Church. Greater glory is given to your name for pardoning a multitude of your creatures than if I alone were pardoned for my great sins against your majesty. It would be no consolation for me to enjoy your life if your holy people stood in death.
For I see that sin darkens the life of your bride the Church – my sin and the sins of others. It is a special grace I ask for, this pardon for the creatures you have made in your image and likeness. When you created man, you were moved by love to make him in your own image.
Surely only love could so dignify your creatures. But I know very well that man lost the dignity you gave him; he deserved to lose it, since he had committed sin.
Moved by love and wishing to reconcile the human race to yourself, you gave us your only-begotten Son. He became our mediator and our justice by taking on all our injustice and sin out of obedience to your will, eternal Father, just as you willed that he take on our human nature. What an immeasurably profound love!
Your Son went down from the heights of his divinity to the depths of our humanity. Can anyone’s heart remain closed and hardened after this?
We image your divinity, but you image our humanity in that union of the two that you have worked in a man. You have veiled the Godhead in a cloud, in the clay of our humanity.
Only your love could so dignify the flesh of Adam. And so by reason of this immeasurable love I beg, with all the strength of my soul, that you freely extend your mercy to all your lowly creatures. AMEN.
From the Dialogue, chapter on Divine Providence, by Saint Catherine of Siena, virgin and doctor (1347-1380).
Want you own copy of this classic? If you loved the prayer, you will find the book an inexhaustible source of spiritual nourishment. I’ve had mine for 30 years and never tire of it. I just open it anywhere and start praying with St. Catherine!
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Thank you for this prayer. Enjoy the train across Canada! Women at 2019 NCCW Convenrion in Atlanta asked about you.
“And by reason of this immeasurable love I beg, with all the strength of my soul,that you freely extend your mercy to all your lowly creatures. AMEN.”
How many times do I make snap condemnations of others when they do something I don’t like such as cutting me off in traffic? There is a slim possibility this is a parent rushing a child to the emergency room.
First this suggests I have a mindset that leads me to draw negative conclusions about the intent of others without evidence. Second, I am human and not capable of immeasurable love. HOWEVER, within these limitations I have options. Every time I judge I have an emotional and physical hangover which can last five minutes to days or more. How about freely extending my mercy to all? It’s not intuitive. It takes a leap of faith as in the third step of Alcoholics Anonymous: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.” And it takes practice, maybe that 10,000 hours (or lifetime) that we hear about.
What a wonderful prayer! Have a great trip!