To Count the World as Nothing

St. Thomas More (1478-1535), the author of Utopia and many other works, was beheaded for treason after opposing King Henry VIII over his divorce of Katherine of Aragon. He was Lord Chancellor before he lost favor with the king. His spiritual struggles as he awaited trial and execution are expressed in the final prayers he composed. He is one of my favorite saints and writers and a man I admire with great affection. A Man For All Seasons, which won six Oscars in 1967, is a terrific film that tells his story of what he faced, and gave up, to oppose his former best friend King Henry VIII and stand by his principles.

I’ve read many of his writings, but had never come across this meditation until this morning. I’m going to print a copy to keep in my bible. I would like this prayer read at my funeral mass one day.

A Godly Meditation

Give me grace, good Lord 
To count the world as nothing,
To set my mind firmly on you 
And not to hang on what people say; 
To be content to be alone, 
Not to long for worldly company, 
Little by little to throw off the world completely 
And rid my mind of all its business; 
Not to long to hear of any worldly things; 
Gladly to be thinking of you, 
Pitifully to call for your help, 
To depend on your comfort, 
Busily to work to love you; 
To know my own worthlessness and wretchedness, 
To humble and abase myself under your mighty hand, 
To lament my past sins, 
To suffer adversity patiently, to purge them, 
Gladly to bear my purgatory here, 
To be joyful for troubles; 
To walk the narrow way that leads to life, 
To bear the Cross with Christ, 
To keep the final hour in mind, 
To have always before my eyes my death, which is always at hand, 
To make death no stranger to me, 
To foresee and consider the everlasting fire of hell, 
To pray for pardon before the judge comes; 
To keep continually in mind the passion that Christ suffered for me, 
For his benefits unceasingly to give him thanks; 
To buy back the time that I have wasted before, 
To refrain from futile chatter, 
To reject idle frivolity, 
To cut out unnecessary entertainments, 
To count the loss of worldly possessions, friends, liberty and life itself as absolutely nothing, for the winning of Christ; 
To consider my worst enemies my best friends, 
For Joseph’s brothers could never have done him as much good with their love and favor as they did with their malice and hatred.

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