The Nun’s Prayer

ABC Wednesday – N is for …

this Nun’s Prayer on how to age gracefully. It’s said to date from the 17th Century but it seems quite modern to me and I don’t think that matters*:

Lord, Thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody: helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all but Thou knowest Lord that I want a few friends at the end.

Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others’ pains, but help me to endure them with patience.

I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.

Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a Saint – some of them are so hard to live with – but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And, give me, Lord, the grace to tell them so.

*On second thoughts I think it does matter – but only because I’d like to know the source and I don’t like fabrications – things being made to seem what they are not.

10 thoughts on “The Nun’s Prayer

  1. I suspect that this is like that other piece of twentieth century wisdom, ‘Desiderata’, something that has been written to attempt to appear antique, when it is not. I’ll ask around my friends who are catholic scholars and see if they have any definite knowledge, but it probably just arrived fully formed.


  2. Well, regardless of the era in which it was written, there are some nuggets of wisdom here. Thanks for sharing it, Margaret!


  3. I think I need to print this out for myself and put it in various places around the house. “Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details.” Sounds like me! It will remind me to talk less and listen more. Thanks for this, no matter where and when it came from.

    abcw team


  4. This does sound very modern but also very true for any time. I should keep some of this advice in mind, as I’m in that time of life where it is almost irresistible to tell friends about all of my aches and pains.


  5. Hi,

    I know this text : Nun’s prayer. Do you have a french translation or do you know where i can found one ?
    Thank you
    Sincerly your’s


  6. I saw this hanging in a friends house and had to look it up for myself. So many morsels of wisdom in this piece. If it was really written in the 17th century, it seems to indicate that man/woman has not changed so much after all. We have always been a self-centered lot but at least we’re mixed with a pinch of humor and with a desire to be better and kinder with others. I like that.


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