Reading a little Aelred of Rievaulx

Tomorrow is his commemoration. Here’s what I wrote last year. Aelred (1132-167) was an English Cistercian Abbot during the golden age of the Cistercian order. He is noted for his writings on friendship and love, but today  I reread part of his pastoral prayer. He prays to Jesus Christ on behalf of the monks under his care:

My understanding and speaking, my leisure, my activity my doing and thinking, my good and ill fortune, life and death, health and sickness–let absolutely all that I am, experience, feel and understand be employed and expended for them, for whom you yourself did not scorn to expend your very life. And so I pray you teach your servant, Lord, teach me by your Holy Spirit how I may spend my substance for them. Grant, Lord, by your grace, that I may bear patiently with their frailty, sympathize kindly and support with tact. Let your Spirit teach me to console the sad, strengthen the faint-hearted, raise the fallen; to be weak with the weak, indignant with the scandalized and to become all things to all men, that I may win them all.

His prayer is a powerful reminder to all of us with the cure of souls, of the importance of praying on behalf of those in our care. He prays for their material needs, but also for their spiritual needs:

pour your Holy Spirit into their hearts that he may keep them in unity of spirit and the bond of peace, chaste in body and humble of mind. May he himself be with them when they pray and inspire the prayers it pleases you to grant. May the same Spirit abide in those who meditate, so that, enlightened by him, they come to know you and fix in their memory the God whom they invoke in their distress and look to in time of doubt. May that kind comforter be swift to succour those who struggle with temptation and sustain them in the trials and tribulations of this life.

These quotations are from The Cistercian World: Monastic Writings of the Twelfth Century (Penguin Classics), translated and edited by Pauline Matarasso.

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