catholic homeschool mom and child in prayer

Prayer, Study, and Catholic Homeschooling

A Collection of Catholic Prayers for Your Homeschool

Near where I live is a little chapel with an interesting sign over the door. The sign reads, “Prayer takes time. Saints pray and get more done in less time.” The sign is a perpetual reminder to everyone who enters the sanctuary that prayer is the energy that fuels all our works. No matter how busy we think we are, we are never too busy for prayer.

This is a good lesson to remember, especially for our Catholic homeschooled children. A student’s life can feel like one gigantic time crunch—too many responsibilities and insufficient time to attend to them all! Making space for prayer is always a time management issue that comes down to finding the right balance between ora and labora. This is a lifelong task; one easy way to get started is to get into the habit of praying before study. This can be a general prayer at the beginning of the school day and before specific subjects or exams.

In my career at Homeschool Connections, I have always made it a point to begin classes with a prayer. If you don’t already do this with your students in your homeschool, it is a wholesome habit to take up. Here are a few of my favorite prayers for study:

Veni, Sancte Spiritus (“Come Holy Spirit”)

You can never go wrong with the “Come, Holy Spirit” prayer. Composed in the 9th century by the poet-bishop Rabanus Maurus, this prayer invokes the aid of the Holy Spirit to enlighten our hearts with all the spiritual gifts God wishes to lavish upon us. It is particularly suited for any intellectual endeavor.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in them the fire of your love.

Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created,
and you shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.

O God, who have taught the hearts of the faithful
by the light of the Holy Spirit,
grant that in the same Spirit we may be truly wise
and ever rejoice in his consolation.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

St. Thomas Aquinas’s Prayer Before Study

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) is among the Church’s greatest academics. He is rightly designated the Patron Saint of Students. When a student asked Aquinas how to persevere in his studies, one of Aquinas’s recommendations was, “Do not give up spending time in prayer.” The following is a prayer before study penned by Aquinas:

Creator of all things,
true Source of light and wisdom,
lofty origin of all being,
graciously let a ray of Your brilliance
penetrate into the darkness of my understanding
and take from me the double darkness
in which I have been born,
an obscurity of both sin and ignorance.
Give me a sharp sense of understanding,
a retentive memory,
and the ability to grasp things correctly and fundamentally.
Grant me the talent of being exact in my explanations,
and the ability to express myself with thoroughness and charm.
Point out the beginning,
direct the progress,
and help in completion;
through Christ our Lord.

St. Francis’s Prayer Before a Crucifix

Students who have taken my courses are undoubtedly familiar with the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi before the crucifix. It has become a staple pre-class prayer of mine for years. This prayer is excellent for the way it encompasses faith, hope, and charity in such profound brevity. Like the Veni Sancte Spritus, it is truly suitable for any endeavor:

Most high, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me, Lord,
correct faith, a certain hope, a perfect charity,
wisdom, and understanding,
so that I may carry out your holy and true command.

Aquinas’s Student’s Prayer

For students who want something a little more meaty, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote another prayer for students. Whereas Aquinas’s previous prayer is specifically meant to be used before study sessions, this prayer is more general and concerns the student life as such:

Come, Holy Spirit, Divine Creator, true source of light and fountain of wisdom!
Pour forth your brilliance upon my dense intellect, dissipate the darkness which covers me, that of sin and of ignorance.
Grant me a penetrating mind to understand, a retentive memory, method and ease in learning,
the lucidity to comprehend, and abundant grace in expressing myself.
Guide the beginning of my work, direct its progress, and bring it to successful completion.
This I ask through Jesus Christ, true God and true man,
living and reigning with You and the Father, forever and ever.

St. Frances X. Cabrini’s Prayer for Peace of Mind

One thing every student needs in abundance is peace of mind! St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917), the Italian-American foundress of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, composed this beautiful prayer for maintaining peace of mind amidst the vicissitudes of life. It is eminently suitable for students who may struggle with worry or anxiety:

Fortify me with the grace of Your Holy Spirit,
and give Your peace to my soul
that I may be free from all needless anxiety, solicitude and worry.
Help me to desire always that which is pleasing and acceptable to You
so that Your will may be my will.

St. Ignatius Loyola Prayer Before an Exam You Didn’t Study For

Okay, St. Ignatius Loyola actually composed the following prayer for dealing with despondency and depression, not for exams. Yet, it is very appropriate when you are about to take an exam and feel like it’s a lost cause!

O Christ Jesus,
When all is darkness
And we feel our weakness and helplessness,
Give us the sense of Your Presence,
Your Love and Your Strength.
Help us to have perfect trust
In Your protecting love
And strengthening power,
So that nothing may frighten or worry us,
For, living close to You,
We shall see Your Hand,
Your Purpose, Your will through all things.

Other Prayers

Of course, if you are not prepared with any of these prayers, any prayer will do, even the classic trifecta of the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be. You can always pray extemporaneously, asking God’s blessing on your homeschooling day, praying for strength to fulfill the duties of your state in life, and petitioning the Holy Spirit to enliven the minds of you and your children.

Remember, too, that prayer isn’t just for before school. You can also make acts of thanksgiving after completing a session of study. Encourage your children to make acts of thanksgiving after the completion of a test or project, or make a family prayer of thanksgiving at the end of the school day.

Prayer doesn’t come easy; it is a habit that must be formed like any other habit. However, once the habit is formed, prayer before study can work wonders in clearing the mind and disposing your children to approach their studies with grace and balance!

For more tips on occasions for prayer and piety in your homeschool, see our article “The Pious Homeschool.”

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