As a young university student, I learned a prayer that continues to speak deeply to me to this day:
“Grant, O Merciful God,
That I may ardently desire,
And perfectly accomplish,
What is pleasing to Thee,
For the praise and glory of Thy Name.”
At the time, I was fortunate to attend a Catholic university where many of our classes began with this prayer—whether it was literature, philosophy, theology or even geology. To this day, my classmates and I continue to speak of the deep impression that prayer made upon our hearts and minds.
Composed by St. Thomas Aquinas as a part of a larger prayer, the words expressed Aquinas’ profound devotion to God in all that he did. Perhaps it is Aquinas’ deep faith that continues to move countless women and men, several hundred years later, to turn to him for inspiration. Next to St. Augustine of Hippo, Aquinas remains to be the most influential Catholic theologian today. While we may praise Aquinas’ brilliance, I believe his greatest contribution was to demonstrate the tremendous need to see God as the source of all good. Even Aquinas, after writing many volumes on a wide range of subjects, concluded that “all that I have written seems like straw to me” when compared to the great glory of God.