Aspirations Rising Up LIke Incense to God
St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church, recommended that we “make spiritual aspirations to God by short, ardent movements of [our] hearts” and taught that “… ejaculatory prayer was strongly recommended by the great St. Augustine to the devout Lady Proba” (Introduction to the Devout Life, II, 13). The Abbott Blessed Louis de Blois (François-Louis Blosius), O.S.B., a 16th century Flemish monk and mystical writer, wrote in “A Book of Spiritual Instruction”:
“The diligent darting forth of aspirations and prayers of ejaculation and fervent desires to God, joined with true mortification and self-denial, is the most certain as well as the shortest way by which a soul can easily and quickly come to perfection …”
But, what are aspirations? What are ejaculations? The word aspiration comes to us through the Latin words “aspiratio” and “aspirare” which are about the concept of breathing or breath. Aspirations, or ejaculatory prayers, are simply short, uncomplicated prayers that come from the heart and express our love for God, Mary, the saints, and angels … in a short breath or a sigh! They are a long-standing practice in the Church (when you think about it, the Divine Praises can even be considered a set of aspirations). Ejaculations or aspirations can be of different types: praise (Praise to you, Lord God almighty!), petition (God help me), or thanksgiving (Thank you, God), etc., and can be prayed out loud or in the heart. Rising up to heaven like incense, our aspirations can be part of our efforts to pray without ceasing (cf 1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Many saints used aspirations or ejaculations as a form of short and continual prayer and longing. We can do the same … but we must take care not to use them carelessly, like the common expression we hear these days “Oh my God”. This can be a prayer; but, it can also be a thoughtless taking of the Lord’s name in vain. Intention, then, is very important here. We must intend to honor God, Mary, the saints or the angels, when we use these aspirations. They are not supposed to be used as curses or invective.
St. Francis de Sales went on to say:
“Many people have made collections of vocal ejaculations and they can be very useful. However, my advice is not to restrict yourself to a set form of words but to pronounce either, within your heart or with your lips, such words as love suggests to you at the time. It will supply you with as many as you wish.”
– Introduction to the Devout Life, II, 13
I’d like to share with you some aspirations which I learned when young (yes, many years ago), and others which are new to me, drawn from collections in the books “Daily Aspirations – Short Aspirations to God for Every Day in the Year” by John Hodges, 1877, and the “Blessed Sacrament Book” by Rev. F. L. Lasance, 1913, to which I am indebted. They are arranged loosely in various categories. Some overlap. All fit together for the praise and glory of God. You may even recognize some from your own prayer regimen. Note that many come from Scripture and, more specifically, from the Psalms. I hope that these will get you started, if you are not already incorporating aspirations into daily life, and that they will enhance your prayer life as they do mine. You may soon find that they become like breathing! Feel free to add your own below!
Aspirations to God:
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!
My Lord and my God!
Blessed be God!
Blessed be His Holy Name!
Most Holy Trinity!
My Jesus, mercy!
Be my inheritance and my cup!
Lord, be thou all to me, in time and in eternity!
Let your face shine on us, O Lord!
Hear me when I call, O God of righteousness!
Praise the Lord my soul and all that is within me bless His Holy Name!
Lord, deliver me from evil!
Lord, cleanse me from my sins!
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner!
Lord, send forth your light and your truth!
Lord, remember not the sins of my youth, but in your mercy hear and answer me!
Thanks be to Thee, O God!
Praise the Lord my soul, forget not all His benefits!
Lord, what is man that You are mindful of Him?
Lord, guide my feet onto Thy paths!
Open my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall declare Thy praise!
Oh Lord, You have the words of everlasting life!
Lord, You are my portion and cup!
Lord, You Yourself are my delight!
I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!
The Lord is great and worthy of all praise!
The Lord is my strength and my song!
The Lord is my salvation!
The Lord is King, let the earth rejoice!
Athirst is my soul for God, the living God!
Lord, increase my faith!
Lord, guide my feet into the way of peace!
Lord, teach me to pray!
Lord, you know my going and my coming!
Lord, make me holy!
From age to age, You have been my God!
Lord, You alone are holy, You alone are Lord!
Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last!
Lord, give me the grace not to judge others.
Lord, give me the grace not to condemn others but to pray for them.
Lord, have mercy on me.
Lord, make Thy face shine on us!
Lord Jesus, draw me that I might run after Thee!
Thy Kingdom come!
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Into Your hands I commend my spirit, You have redeemed me, Lord God of Truth!
Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever!
Lord, cleanse me from my sin!
Lord, remember me in Thy Kingdom!
Lord, let my soul be like a garden for Thee!
In the Father’s House, there are many mansions; Lord, prepare a place for me!
If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor.
My God and my all!
My Lord and my God!
My Jesus, mercy!
My God, my only Good, Thou art all mine; grant that I may be all Thine.
My God, unite all minds in the truth, and all hearts in charity.
Lord, give me the grace to fear only to displease Thee!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
May the Lord bless us, preserve us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. And let the perpetual light shine upon them.
May the most just, most high, and most adorable will of God be in all things done, praised, and magnified for ever.
O Sacrament most holy! O Sacrament divine! All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine!
Blessed and praised every moment be the most holy and divine Sacrament.
Lord, prepare me to receive Thee!
Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
Jesus, my God, I adore Thee here present in the sacrament of Thy love.
The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want!
Oh Good Shepherd, grant that I may always hear Your voice!
Lord, You have other sheep. Bring them in and make them hear Thy voice!
Fresh and green are the pastures where You give me repose.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine!
May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be loved everywhere.
Divine Heart of Jesus, convert sinners, save the dying, deliver the holy souls from purgatory!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in Thee!
May the Heart of Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament be praised, adored, and loved with grateful affection at every moment, in all tabernacles of the world, even to the end of time. Amen.
All for thee, most Sacred Heart of Jesus!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy kingdom come!
Eternal Father, by the most precious blood of Jesus Christ, glorify His most holy name, according to the intention and the desires of His adorable Heart.
Come Holy Spirit!
Lord, may your Holy Spirit lead me into all Truth!
Lord, pour out your Holy Spirit on everyone!
Lord, send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth!
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Saints and the Angels:
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give you my heart and my soul!
Jesus, Mary, Joseph, assist me in my last agony.
Jesus, Mary and good Joseph, bless us, now and in the agony of death.
Jesus, Mary, Joseph, may I breathe forth my soul in peace with you.
To Jesus through Mary!
O Mary! My Queen! My Mother! Remember I am thine. Keep me, guard me, as thy property and possession.
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, pray for us!
Mary, our hope, have pity on us!
Our Lady of Good Studies, pray for us!
Mary, Mother of God and mother of mercy, pray for us and for the departed.
To thee, O Virgin Mother, never defiled with the slightest stain of original or actual sin, I commend and entrust the purity of my heart.
O Mary, who entered the world free from stain, do thou obtain for me from God that I may pass out of it free from sin.
Blessed be the Holy and Immaculate Conception of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.
O Mary, conceived without original sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!
May the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and all saints pray for us to Our Lord, that we may be preserved this night from sin and evil. Amen.
St. Joseph, model and patron of those who love the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pray for us!
St. Joseph, foster-father of Jesus Christ, pray for us!
All you holy angels and saints of God, pray for us!
O my good angel, whom God has appointed to be my guardian, watch over me during this night!
Art for this post on aspirations rising up like incense to God: Detail of the following paintings: Red Mass 2012, Villanova Law Library, 7 Sep 2012, CCA-SA 2.0 Generic; Angel with Incense from The Adoration of the Shepherds, Sebastiano Conca, 1720, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less; La Sainte Trinite (The Holy Trinity), Jean Bourdichon, 1503-1508, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less; Modified detail of Patio interior del castillo de Manzanares el Real (Madrid) (Interior Patio of Manzaneres el Real Castle Madrid), photographed by Eleagnus~commonswiki, 9-February-2005, CCA-SA 3.0 Unported; Partial Restoration of Christ with the Host, Paolo da San Leocadio, fourth quarter of 15th century, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less; Partial Restoration of Christ with the Host, Paolo da San Leocadio, fourth quarter of 15th century, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less; Partial Restoration of The Sacred Heart, Church of Nome di Gesù [Name of Jesus] in Venice, Lattanzio Querena, photographed by Didier Descouens, 30 May 2016 own work, copyright and released under a CCA-SA 4.0 International License not compatible with Facebook; All Saints Catholic Church (St. Peters, Missouri) – stained glass, sacristy, Holy Spirit detail, Nheyob, 8 July 2014, own work, CCA-SA 4.0 International; Immaculate Conception, Peter Paul Rubens, circa 1628, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less; all Wikimedia Commons. Christ Pantocrator Enthroned, Serbian Icon of the Kingship of Christ, J. Vasilievic, 18th century, PD, Restored Traditions, used with permission.