Prayers of aspiration

Prayers of aspiration – brief phrases that turn our minds and hearts to the Lord – are ideal for filling odd moments when we are waiting at the lights, sitting in a waiting room, wakeful in the night, or otherwise idle. We can take phrases from our spiritual reading, from the scriptural readings for the day, from hymns, from the liturgy, even from the world around us. St Francis de Sales said:

Aspire continually to God, by brief, ardent upliftings of heart; praise His Excellence, invoke His Aid, cast yourself in spirit at the Foot of His Cross, adore His Goodness, offer your whole soul a thousand times a day to Him, fix your inward gaze upon Him, stretch out your hands to be led by Him, as a little child to its father, clasp Him to your breast as a fragrant nosegay, upraise Him in your soul as a standard. In short, kindle by every possible act your love for God, your tender, passionate desire for the Heavenly Bridegroom of souls… and be sure, my child, that if you seek such nearness and intimacy with God your whole soul will imbibe the perfume of His Perfections.

Neither is this a difficult practice,–it may be interwoven with all our duties and occupations, without hindering any; for neither the spiritual retreat of which I have spoken, nor these inward upliftings of the heart, cause more than a very brief distraction, which, so far from being any hindrance, will rather promote whatever you have in hand. When a pilgrim pauses an instant to take a draught of wine, which refreshes his lips and revives his heart, his onward journey is nowise hindered by the brief delay, but rather it is shortened and lightened, and he brings it all the sooner to a happy end, pausing but to advance the better…

Just as those who are full of some earthly, natural love are ever turning in thought to the beloved one, their hearts overflowing with tenderness, and their lips ever ready to praise that beloved object; comforting themselves in absence by letters, carving the treasured name on every tree;–so those who love God cannot cease thinking of Him, living for Him, longing after Him, speaking of Him, and fain would they grave the Holy Name of Jesus in the hearts of every living creature they behold. And to such an outpour of love all creation bids us–nothing that He has made but is filled with the praise of God, and, as says Saint Augustine, everything in the world speaks silently but clearly to the lovers of God of their love, exciting them to holy desires, whence gush forth aspirations and loving cries to God.

About joyfulpapist

JoyfulPapist is an adult convert to Catholicism, with a passion for her God, her faith, and her church.
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14 Responses to Prayers of aspiration

  1. toadspittle says:

    “When a pilgrim pauses an instant to take a draught of wine, which refreshes his lips and revives his heart, his onward journey is nowise hindered by the brief delay, but rather it is shortened and lightened, and he brings it all the sooner to a happy end, pausing but to advance the better…”

    Albeit a trifle more unsteadily. What a joyful thought, Joyful!


  2. toadspittle says:

    I pray you are paying attention out there, Rabit!


  3. toadspittle says:


    “Any newspaper, from the first line to the last, is nothing but a web of horrors, I cannot understand how an innocent hand can touch a newspaper without convulsing in disgust.”
    – Charles Baudelaire

    The innocent hand in question here, which inspired this spit, belongs to JOHNHENRYEN (odd name.) The guilty newspaper in question being none other than the notorious ‘North Bend Nugget.’ A veritable nest of vipers!

    (P:S:North … Bend, Bay, Bayou, Borough, Bugger, Bognor!) Take your pick!


  4. golden chersonnese says:

    Joyful (or should I say “Philothea”), neither you nor the Bishop of Geneva mentioned the word grace even once.

    (Must have said this because I’m here waiting for Teresa to set me straight on this grace business)


  5. teresa says:

    Golden Chersonnese, mea culpa! I’ve been away for a long while! Hope you will come again soon. I will write an answer soon. For the moment I have some work to do for the blog (which will take an hour or so).


  6. joyfulpapist says:

    Philothea is pretty. I’ll have to remember that one.


  7. golden chersonnese says:

    Joyful, isn’t that the name by which the sainted bishop addressed the hearts he was counselling (or forming, rather)? At least it is in the translation I have which was published by the Indian Paulists in 2006 in Bombay.

    “Yes, Philothea, for God only values man for his soul, and the soul only for his will, and the will only for its love”. (Of Flirtations)


  8. joyfulpapist says:

    Yes, I’ve looked it up and you are quite right. The book, which I knew as ‘An introduction to the devout life’ is more properly called ‘Philothea, or An introduction to the devout life’. Temporarily out of stock at Amazon, but only US$10 when available!

    The book grew out of a series of letters to his cousin by marriage, but he changed the name when it was published to Philothea, Lover of God. Wonderful! Thank you for sending me off to do that research.


  9. golden chersonnese says:

    My copy was only US$3 and I bought it off a pretty little young Dayak sister, one of the Daughters of St Paul, who about once every two months park their book-laden van just outside the main door of our cathedral here and dutifully set up their trellis-tables to catch the Mass crowd as it pours in an out. Anything about St Francis of Assissi seems to fly off the table.

    Thanks for the Francis De Sales, joyful! I’m trying to find what he says about grace. Must be related to those “prayers of aspiration” you mention, thorugh which we open ourselves to and co-operate with God’s grace.


  10. joyfulpapist says:

    I’ve found an interesting take on indulgences. I may not find time to research it till the weekend, but I’ll report back when I can.


  11. golden chersonnese says:

    Or “as God is gracious so man should be grateful to Him”. I get it. Grace and gratitude.

    Oh well, that does it for me.


  12. golden chersonnese says:

    Teresa, I’m feeling a bit like Jack Horner with his plum.

    Just found this on the blog of the Dominican students at Blackfriars Oxford. It ties “charis”, “eucharist”, “grace” and “gratitude” all together very nicely, I think.


    Oh well, it brightened up my day anyway:

    In partaking of the Eucharist, the individual in communion with the whole Church realizes and declares that grateful response to God’s offer of grace, his self-communication, which preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism. Thus the principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus; therefore as Christ said: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (John 6: 56).


  13. teresa says:

    Dear Golden Chersonnese, sorry for the late answer. Many thanks for this interesting link. I enjoyed very much the plum you pulled from the pie.


  14. golden chersonnese says:

    You are kind, Teresa. Glad you liked it.

    These English Dominican students seem on the traditional side, don’t they?

    A bit different from my experience of the Dominicans in other parts of the Anglophone world.


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