Prayer Practice For Lent: Praying the Universal Prayer in Slow Motion

I have often thought that the second greatest prayer ever written is the Universal Prayer attributed to Pope Clement XI. Most people have never heard of it. But it is magnificent. Its sweeping themes cascade like a fountain and it is comprehensive without being too detailed so that it looses its poetry.

So many themes are covered in its short verses: faith, trust, beginnings and ends, wisdom, justice, mercy, mindfulness, purity, repentance, journey, judgment, authority, greed, gentleness, generosity, apathy, fervor, prudence, courage, justice, temperance, fortitude, vigilance, and the our last end, just to mention some.

If you are among the many who have never heard of this prayer, click here to see it:


And yet as I pray it, the prayer is so sweeping that I often feel overwhelmed by its sheer volume. It’s as though I am standing before an open fire hydrant with a little dixie cup trying to capture the water. Most of it rushes past me.

So for Lent I have thought to pray this prayer every day but also to take one line and meditate on it in particular. Here is a version of the Prayer that I have numbered so as to focus on a particular line for each of the forty days:

THE UNIVERSAL PRAYER for Each of the Forty Days

I hope the Universal prayer will bless you as much as it has blessed me. Consider this practice. Print out the PDF files and use them when you can. I think you’ll find that the prayer provides a lot on which to meditate.

In case you would like the Latin original with a literal and poetic translation it is here:

UNIVERSAL PRAYER in Latin and English


Photo Credit Victor Saume Pictures (Right-Click for URL)

8 Replies to “Prayer Practice For Lent: Praying the Universal Prayer in Slow Motion”

  1. Thank you Mgsr. for sharing this with us. I have both the prayer itself and the daily numbered focus prayer printed. I shall join you in praying and meditating on this wonderful prayer daily.

  2. Thank you for this thoughtful gift. The prayers of the Church are so numerous, that many wonderful ones are missed; I’ve missed this one. Blessings to you.

  3. Thank you and God bless you. I am going to pray and share this with everyone I know.

  4. And he said to them: Come apart into a desert place, and rest a little. Mk 6:31

    To all the contributors of this board, thanks for a constant reliable place to always come and rest a little!

  5. Msgr. Pope, Thank you for your daily insights! Many of your words bring comfort and insight to the homebound to which I minister!
    I have two sons living in your area at this time and hope to attend your parish on one of my visits from the Midwest!
    A friend gave me a folded Thanksgiving Prayer card ( the Anima Christi, The Universal Prayer of Thanksgiving After Mass (attributed to Pope Clement XI) and Prayer of Saint Thomas Aquinas. These prayers are part of my daily Mass thanksgiving prayers! How delighted I am to add your meditations for each line this Lent!
    Know of my prayers for you and this ministry!

  6. Thanks for reminding me of this great prayer. I luckily carry it with me every day with my iPod Touch, as it is included with the iMissal App. It is also available for Droid smart phones, and I know you are a Blackberry person–which is currently under development. The iMissal will be updated for the upcoming changes in the 3rd Edition Roman Missal.

    God Bless,

  7. I seem to have another, earlier edition of this prayer which is much longer. I’m not sure why that is the case. Are there different versions?

  8. Thank you for sharing this, I used to say this prayer as a teen it really put in me the right spirit and understanding about leading a virtuous life pleasing to God. This is a very powerful prayer if said with the utmost sincerity of thought and deed.

    I like that you have shared the themes the verses are based on, lovely list to remember specially while you go about your daily routine with mindfulness of those virtues.

    Meditating on the depth of each verse over a 40 day period is an excellent practice!

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