March 27, 1999

Prayer Against the Seven Deadly Sins

“If I find Him, I will find myself.”

Thomas Merton, “New Seeds of Contemplation,” 1961

Thomas Merton, Trappist Monk, 20th Century

The following prayer is from his book, “New Seeds of Contemplation.” It is widely available. For Merton, the word illusion could be substituted freely for sin. This makes sense in many ways: we often lament our past sins and say, “How could I have not seen how horrible this was?” or “What was I thinking of?” Here is a prayer from his book:

Let me use all things for one sole reason: to find my joy in giving You glory.

Therefore, keep me, above all things, from sin. Keep me from the death of deadly sin which puts hell in my soul. Keep me from the murder of lust that blinds and poisons my heart. Keep me from the sins that eat a man’s flesh with irresistible fire until he is devoured. Keep me from loving money in which is hatred, from avarice [greed] and ambition that suffocate my life. Keep me from the dead works of vanity and the thankless labor in which artists destroy themselves for pride and money and reputation, and saints are smothered under the avalanche of their own importunate zeal. Staunch in me the rank wound of covetousness and the hungers that exhaust my nature with their bleeding. Stamp out the serpent envy that stings love with poison and kills all joy.

Untie my hands and deliver my heart from sloth. Set me free from the laziness that goes about disguised as activity when activity is not required of me, and from the cowardice that does what is not demanded, in order to escape sacrifice.

But give me the strength that waits upon You in silence and peace. Give me humility in which alone is rest, and deliver me from pride which is the heaviest of burdens. And possess my whole heart and soul with the simplicity of love. Occupy my whole life with the one thought and the one desire of love, that I may love not for the sake of merit, not for the sake of perfection, not for the sake of virtue, not for the sake of sanctity, but for You alone.

Thomas Merton, 1961, Gethsemani. Imprimatur Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York

Leave a Reply