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 loses 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 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:
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: