We recently attended a Parent Meeting for our son’s FIRST Robotics team at his high school, McQuaid Jesuit. Like all meetings at McQuaid, it opened with a prayer. The team’s mentor handed out a little slip of paper with a short little prayer on it – St. Ignatius Loyola’s “Prayer for Generosity.” I have heard this prayer many times since Ben began attending McQuaid. It is often used to open meetings at the school. I have heard Ben pray it often. He says it is his favorite prayer. I have always liked the prayer, but this time, the words really spoke to me.
Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.
What a beautiful prayer. As I listened, really listened, to the words of the prayer, the depth of what we were asking for struck me. I thought of one of my favorite characters, Don Quixote de la Mancha, setting off on his quest to live his impossible dream and make the world a better place. I slipped the little piece of paper into my pocket and took it home with me that night. When I found it later, I put it on my nightstand where I would see it often. I have been praying this prayer several times each day since that meeting. It has been inspiring me to be more generous in my thoughts and actions all throughout each day.
I love to think of this prayer working in me and helping me to become more generous. I love to think of it working in Ben, forming him and giving him a foundation of generosity. I know that he prays it often. I think of what a wonderful young man he is, and I know that praying this prayer for the years he has been at McQuaid has helped to mold him into who he is and will continue to mold him into the man he is called to become. He has taken this prayer into his heart and is trying to live out these words, both consciously and subconsciously. I wonder about all the ways this prayer will affect his future and all of his decisions as he graduates and enters college and the wider world.
I also love to think about all the boys who have prayed this prayer while students at McQuaid. I wonder about all the ways this prayer has inspired them as they have left McQuaid to go out into the world and make it a better place. I realize that this is much larger even than McQuaid and that many, many people have learned this prayer, taken it to heart, and strive to live out its words. This prayer is a prayer for holiness. As I meditate on the words of this prayer, I imagine a multitude of people praying them and believing them and living them. I imagine these people working, day by day, to become their best selves. I want to be one of them. Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek to rest, to labor and not to ask for reward, save that of knowing that I do your will. Amen.