Growing in the Life of Prayer and Spiritual Practices
Prayer is a way to connect with the Divine. The Catholic Faith is rich in spiritual practices including many different types of individual prayer, community prayer, and practices of caring. There are prayer forms that will be fruitful for anyone from the most traditional Catholic to someone who is spiritual but not religious. We invite you to learn about different prayer forms and spiritual practices. Try the ones that attract you. If you are not drawn to a practice, enjoy the fact that some others in the world-wide Catholic community enter into their faith this way.
Prayers, Poems and Hymns Inspired by the Holy Spirit
What I Have Learned So Far
by Mary Oliver
Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I
not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside,
looking into the shining world? Because, properly
attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion.
Can one be passionate about the just, the
ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit
to no labor in its cause? I don’t think so.
All summations have a beginning, all effect has a
story, all kindness begins with the sown seed.
Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of
light is the crossroads of — indolence, or action.
Be ignited, or be gone.
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.
And kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
And you will renew the face of the earth.
by the light of the Holy Spirit
you have taught the hearts of your faithful.
In the same Spirit
help us to relish what is right
and always rejoice in your consolation.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
The English translation of the Prayer to the Holy Spirit from A Book of Prayers © 1982, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Verse by Edith Stein
Who are you, sweet light, that fills me
And illumines the darkness of my heart?
You lead me like a mother's hand,
And should you let go of me,
I would not know how to take another step.
You are the space
That embraces my being and buries it in yourself.
Away from you it sinks into the abyss
Of nothingness, from which you raised it to the light.
You, nearer to me than I to myself
And more interior than my most interior
And still impalpable and intangible
And beyond any name:
Holy Spirit eternal love!
Are you not the sweet manna
That from the Son's heart
Overflows into my heart,
The food of angels and the blessed?
He who raised himself from death to life,
He has also awakened me to new life
From the sleep of death.
And he gives me new life from day to day,
And at some time his fullness is to stream through me,
Life of your life indeed, you yourself:
Holy Spirit eternal life!
Are you the ray
That flashes down from the eternal Judge's throne
And breaks into the night of the soul
That had never known itself?
It penetrates hidden folds.
Alarmed at seeing itself,
The self makes space for holy fear,
The beginning of that wisdom
That comes from on high
And anchors us firmly in the heights,
That creates us anew:
Holy Spirit ray that penetrates everything!
Are you the spirit's fullness and the power
By which the Lamb releases the seal
Of God's eternal decree?
Driven by you
The messengers of judgment ride through the world
And separate with a sharp sword
The kingdom of light from the kingdom of night.
Then heaven becomes new and new the earth,
And all finds its proper place
Through your breath:
Holy Spirit victorious power!
Are you the master who builds the eternal cathedral,
Which towers from the earth through the heavens?
Animated by you, the columns are raised high
And stand immovably firm.
Marked with the eternal name of God,
They stretch up to the light,
Bearing the dome,
Which crowns the holy cathedral,
Your work that encircles the world:
Holy Spirit God's molding hand!
Are you the one who created the unclouded mirror
Next to the Almighty's throne,
Like a crystal sea,
In which Divinity lovingly looks at itself?
You bend over the fairest work of your creation,
And radiantly your own gaze
Is illumined in return.
And of all creatures the pure beauty
Is joined in one in the dear form
Of the Virgin, your immaculate bride:
Holy Spirit Creator of all!
Are you the sweet song of love
And of holy awe
That eternally resounds around the triune throne,
That weds in itself the clear chimes of each and every being?
That joins together the members to the Head,
In which each one
Finds the mysterious meaning of his being blessed
And joyously surges forth,
Freely dissolved in your surging:
Holy Spirit eternal jubilation!
[poem from The Collected Works of Edith Stein, © 1992 ICS Publications.]
Wouldst thou know my meaning?
Lie down in the Fire
See and taste the Flowing
Godhead through thy being;
Feel the Holy Spirit
Moving and compelling
Thee within the Flowing
Fire and Light of God.
—Mechthild of Magdeburg, The Flowing Light of the Godhead
Veni Sancte Spiritus
Come, Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit, God of light,
Fill us with your radiance bright;
Gentle father of the poor,
Make us, by your help, secure;
Come, your boundless grace impart,
Bring your love to ev'ry heart.
Lord of consolation, come,
Warm us when our hearts are numb;
Great consoler, come and heal,
To our souls your strength reveal;
Cool, refreshing comfort pour,
And our peace of mind restore.
Light immortal, fire divine,
With your love our hearts refine;
Come, our inmost being fill,
Make us all to do your will;
Goodness you alone can give,
Grant that in your grace we live.
Come, our lukewarm hearts inspire,
Mold our wills to your desire;
In our weakness make us strong,
And amend our every wrong;
Guide us when we go astray,
Wash our stain of guilt away.
Give to every faithful soul
Gifts of grace to make us whole;
Help us when we come to die,
So that we may live on high;
Ever let your love descend,
Give us joys that never end.
ascribed to Stephen Langton, c. 1150-1228(translated by Anthony G. Petti)
Prayer for the Help of the Holy Spirit
O God, send forth your Holy Spirit into my heart that I may perceive, into my mind that I may remember, and into my soul that I may meditate. Inspire me to speak with piety, holiness, tenderness and mercy. Teach, guide and direct my thoughts and senses from beginning to end. May your grace ever help and correct me, and may I be strengthened now with wisdom from on high, for the sake of your infinite mercy. Amen.
Saint Anthony of Padua
A Different Spirit
I want to tell you this:
The moment will surely come
when the Holy Spirit
will be within you:
a wild goose
stretching and straining
with her taut body,
For that moment
there will be nothing dove
about the Spirit
as she fiercely leads you
through wholesome refusals
out into those
wonderfully clear choices
within the boundaries of which
you will land so awkwardly;
but you will be like her:
exhilarated in your every part
by such strong-winged
Bernadette McCarrick, RSM
Prayer for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
May the Spirit of God rest upon me.
May I be filled with the awesome and Holy Spirit of Jesus.
A Spirit of wisdom
To see myself and others with the eyes of God.
A Spirit of understanding
To see the heart of people and things.
A Spirit of counsel
To listen to the goodness within me and around me.
A Spirit of courage
To confront the dark and frightening things within me
and the world around me.
A Spirit of knowledge
To know what is truly valuable in life.
A Spirit of holiness
To live a humble and prayerful life.
A Spirit of reverence
To walk, talk, and act in a way that is sacred and respectful.
St. Augustine's Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Breathe in me O Holy Spirit that my thoughts may all be holy;
Act in me O Holy Spirit that my works, too, may be holy;
Draw my heart O Holy Spirit that I love but what is holy;
Strengthen me O Holy Spirit to defend that is holy;
Guard me then O Holy Spirit that I always may be holy.
The Canticle of the Creatures
Laudato Si, the title chosen by Pope Francis for his encyclical, comes from a 13th century prayer written by St. Francis of Assissi called “Canticle of the Creatures.” It can be translated both as “Be Praised” or “Praised Be,” and it reoccurs several times as the prayer praises God by thanking him for creations such as “Brother Fire” and “Sister Water.”
St. Francis composed "The Canticle of the Creatures," known also as "The Canticle of Brother Sun," in the Umbrian dialect during the spring of 1225. The Canticle contains three sections: a praise of God for the creatures (sun, moon, stars, wind, water, fire, earth), a praise for those who forgive for the love of God, and a praise for sister bodily death.
Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing,
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no human is worthy to mention Your name.
Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day and through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor;
and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather,
through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night,
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.
Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.
Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.
A Franciscan presence and spirit requires living a way of life that cherishes Gospel values as St. Francis understood them. Francis tried to live as Christ lived, especially as peacemaker, as one in solidarity with the poor, as living lightly on the earth and as a brother to all creatures. Franciscan presence and spirit is also about prayer, especially prayers of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord for His love, for the gift of life and for the world we inhabit. The word 'eco' derives from the Greek word oikos meaning 'house', and so eco-prayers could mean house prayers or prayers for the world, our house in this life.
You may enjoy Praying with the Franciscan Eco-Network.