Prayers from our Catholic Tradition
A treasury of time-tested prayers
The tradition of Catholic prayer has been shaped by the prayer of real people over the centuries who were changed by the living God whom they encountered. For generations, Catholics have continued to open their hearts to God, in prayer, to encounter his loving kindness and forgiveness. Here are some time-honored Catholic prayers that have been treasured by the faithful over the centuries.
Sign of the Cross
This prayer serves as the beginning and conclusion of every prayer and action. When we make the sign of the cross, we sanctify our lives in consecration to the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity.
In the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Given by Jesus to his disciples when they asked him to teach them how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13), it is the model for all Christian prayer.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come, thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
This prayer is based on the Annunciation scene in the Gospel of Luke, which contains the first line of the prayer (Luke 1: 28). By the beginning of the twelfth century, the first part of the prayer was in common use in the Church. The second part of the prayer (beginning, “Holy Mary”) was added officially during the sixteenth century.
Hail Mary, full of grace!
The Lord is with you;
blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
This prayer in praise of the Blessed Trinity has been in use since the early days of the Church.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now,
and will be forever. Amen.
A summary of the teaching of the apostles, this prayer is an ancient creed used at baptisms in the early Church.
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.
Act of Faith
O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God
in three divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
I believe that your divine Son became human and died for our sins
and that he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe these and all the truths
that the holy Catholic Church teaches,
because you have revealed them,
who can neither deceive nor be deceived.
Act of Hope
O my God, relying on your almighty power
and infinite mercy and promises,
I hope to obtain pardon for my sins,
the help of your grace,
and life everlasting,
through the merits of Jesus Christ,
my Lord and Redeemer.
Act of Love
O my God, I love you above all things,
with my whole heart and soul,
because you are all good and worthy of all love.
I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you.
I forgive all who have injured me
and ask pardon of all whom I have injured.
Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for all my sins.
In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good,
I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things.
I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more,
and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.
In his name, my God, have mercy.
Prayer to My Guardian Angel
Angel of God, my guardian dear,
to whom God’s love commits me here,
ever this day be at my side,
to light and guard, to rule and guide.
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You my prayers, works,
joys and sufferings
of this day for all the intentions
of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all my relatives and friends,
and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father.
Recited three times a day at 6am, noon, and 6pm, except during the Easter Season when the Regina Caeli is recited instead.
V. The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. Hail Mary...
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord
R. Let it be done unto me according to your word. Hail Mary...
V. And the Word was made flesh
R. And dwelt among us. Hail Mary...
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray. Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son was made known by the message of an angel, may, by his Passion and Cross, be brought to the glory of his Resurrection through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Queen of Heaven (Regina Caeli)
V. Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
R. For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
V. Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
R. Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.
Let us pray. O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Grace before Meals
Bless us, O Lord, and these your gifts,
which we are about to receive from your bounty,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Grace after Meals
We thank you, O Lord,
for these gifts and for all the gifts
we have received from your goodness,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
A Night Prayer
Keep watch, O Lord, with those who wake,
or watch, or weep this night,
and give your angels charge over those who sleep.
Tend your sick ones, O Lord Christ.
Give rest to your weary ones.
Bless your dying ones.
Soothe your suffering ones.
Pity your afflicted ones.
Shield your joyous ones.
And all for your love's sake. Amen.
– Saint Augustine (354-430)
Hail, Holy Queen
Hail, holy Queen, mother of mercy,
hail, our life, our sweetness, and our hope.
To you we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
to you we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate,
your eyes of mercy toward us,
and after this our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet virgin Mary.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection,
implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto you,
O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.
To you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word incarnate, despise not my petitions,
but in your mercy hear and answer me.
Anima Christi (Soul of Christ)
Soul of Christ, sanctify me;
Body of Christ, save me;
Water from the side of Christ, wash me;
Passion of Christ, strengthen me;
Good Jesus, hear me;
Within the wounds, shelter me;
From turning away, keep me;
From the evil one, protect me;
At the hour of my death, call me;
Into your presence lead me;
to praise you with all your saints,
forever and ever. Amen.
– 14th century, author unknown
This ancient communion prayer is taken from The Didache (“The Teaching”), a short manual on morals and Church practice, written in the second century.
Now concerning the Eucharistic meal,
give thanks in this manner.
First, concerning the cup:
we thank you, our Father,
for the holy vine of David your servant,
whom you made known to us through your servant Jesus;
may the glory be yours forever.
Concerning the broken bread:
we thank you, our Father,
for the life and knowledge
which you made known to us through your servant Jesus;
may the glory be yours forever.
As this broken bread was scattered over the mountains
and was gathered together to become one,
so let your Church be gathered together
from the ends of the earth into your kingdom;
for the glory and power are yours
through Jesus Christ forever.
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 work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.
– Saint Augustine (354-430)
Prayer before Study
Lord, my God, direct my study,
ensure my perseverance,
and set your seal upon its completion.
You who are the fount of wisdom,
shed light upon the darkness of my understanding
and dispel the twofold darkness of sin and ignorance.
Grant me a keen understanding, a retentive memory,
method and ease in learning, fluency in speech and writing.
Finally, set me on a way of life that is pleasing to you
and grant me confidence that I will embrace you at the end.
– Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
Patron Saint of Catholic Universities
Christ Everywhere (Breastplate of Saint Patrick)
May the strength of God
guide me this day,
and may God’s power preserve me.
May the wisdom of God instruct me:
the eye of God watch over me;
the ear of God hear me;
the word of God give sweetness to my speech;
the hand of God defend me;
and may I follow the way of God.
Christ be with me, Christ before me,
Christ be after me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right hand, Christ at my left.
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I rise.
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
- Said to be on the breastplate of
Saint Patrick, Bishop of Ireland (390-460)
To Christ, Our Only Teacher
Thank you, Jesus, for bringing me this far.
In your light, I see the light of my life.
Your teaching is brief and to the point:
you persuade us to trust in our heavenly Father;
you command us to love one another.
What is easier than to believe in God?
What is sweeter than to love him?
Your yoke is pleasant, your burden is light,
you, the only teacher!
You promise everything to those who obey your teaching;
you ask nothing too hard for a believer,
nothing a lover can refuse.
Your promises to your disciples are true,
entirely true, nothing but the truth.
Even more, you promise us yourself,
the perfection of all that can be made perfect.
Thank you, Jesus, now and always.
– Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464)
Let Nothing Disturb You
Let nothing disturb you,
nothing affright you;
All things are passing,
God never changes.
all that it strives for;
Who possesses God
finds nothing lacking:
God alone suffices.
- Saint Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
Prayer of Saint Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
- Saint Francis of Assisi (1181-1226)
Prayer for all who study or teach
Grant, Lord, to all of us who study or teach,
the grace to love that which is worth loving,
to know that which is worth knowing,
to value what is most precious to you,
and to reject whatever is evil in your eyes.
Give us a true sense of judgment,
and the wisdom to see beneath the surface of things.
Above all, may we search out and do
what is pleasing to you,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
– adapted from a prayer by Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471)
Prayer of Saint Benedict
O gracious and holy Father,
give us wisdom to perceive you,
intelligence to understand you,
diligence to seek you,
patience to wait for you,
eyes to behold you,
a heart to meditate upon you,
and a life to proclaim you,
through the power of the Spirit
of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
- Saint Benedict (c.480 - c.547)
Lord, bless us and keep us.
Lord, make your face to shine upon us and be gracious to us.
Lord, lift up the light of your countenance upon us
and give us peace, now and always.
- adapted from Numbers 6:24-26
The spiritual guide Henri Nouwen was once asked what advice he would give to someone who was seeking a spiritual life. Without hesitation Nouwen replied that the best way to find a spiritual life is to spend at least a year living with a group of people who pray the Psalms together every day. The Psalms—the prayers that Jesus himself prayed.
Some of our favorite psalms are Psalms 23, 27, 46, 130, and 145. You may find all the Psalms at: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/psalms/0
A psalm is
a blessing on the lips of the people,
praise of God,
the assembly's homage,
a general acclamation,
a word that speaks for all,
the voice of the Church,
a confession of faith in song.
- St. Ambrose of Milan (339-397)