More in Lent: Psalm of Detatchment

Sir Thomas More studied the psalms as part of his daily prayer, but did not find one that helped him form a detatchment from the earthly world. Instead, More – a man of the world with many temporal goods and comforts – wrote this prayer across the top of several pages of his devotional manuscript. Perhaps that is why this prayer sounds similar in form to a psalm, or a litany.

Despite his wealth and position of power, More always wore a hair-shirt under his clothes and was horrible embarrassed for this to be discovered. He also spent only four hours a day sleeping: eight were for work, six for family, and six for study and prayer. In fact, he had a building to be used chapel and study built separate for the house, and there he spent every day from 2:00am until 8:00am.

Give me Thy grace, good Lord

to set the world at nought;

To set my mind fast upon Thee,

and not to hang upon the blast of men’s mouths;

To be content to be solitary,

not to long for worldly company;

Little by little utterly to cast off the world,

and rid my mind of all the business thereof;

Not to long to hear of any worldly things,

but that the hearing of worldly phantasies may be to me unpleasant;

Gladly to be thinking of God,

piteously to call for His help;

To lean unto the comfort of God,

busily to labor to love Him;

To know my own vileness and wretchedness,

to be humble and meeken myself under the mighty hand of God;

To bewail my sins passed,

for the purging of them patiently to suffer adversity;

Gladly to bear my purgatory here,

to be joyful of tribulations;

To walk the narrow way that leads to life,

to bear the cross with Christ;

To have the last thing in remembrance,

to have ever before my eye my death that is ever at hand;

To make death no stranger to me,

to foresee and consider the everlasting fire of hell;

To pray for pardon before the Judge come,

to have continually in mind the passion that Christ suffered for me;

For His benefits unceasingly to give Him thanks,

to buy the time again that I before have lost;

To abstain from vain conversations,

to eschew light foolish mirth and gladness;

Recreations not necessary to cut off,

of worldly substance, friends, liberty, life and all, to set the loss as nothing

for the winning of Christ;

To think my greatest enemies my best friends,

for the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good

with their love and favor as they did him with their malice and hatred.

These attitudes are more to be desired of every man

than all the treasure of all the princes and kings Christian and heathen,

were it gathered and laid together all upon one heap.


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