AQUINAS' PRAYER BEFORE STUDY
This is the prayer which St. Thomas Aquinas himself frequently recited. It gained prominence after Pope Pius XI published it at the end of his encyclical letter, "Studiorum Ducem" (29 June, 1923), and exhorted that it be widely published and prayed. Attached to the act of praying this prayer, is a partial indulgence. For criteria concerning the valid gaining of an indulgence, see the bottom of this page.
Creator ineffábilis, qui de thesáuris sapiéntiæ tuæ tres Angelórum hiearchías designásti et eas super cælum empýreum miro órdine collocásti, atque univérsi partes elegantíssime distribuísti: Tu, inquam, qui verus fons lúminis et sapiéntiæ díceris ac superéminens princípium, infúndere dignéris super intelléctus mei ténebras tuæ rádium claritátis, dúplices, in quibus natus sum, a me rémovens ténebras, peccátum scílicet et ignorántiam. Tu, qui linguas infántium facis disértas, linguam meam erudias atque in lábiis meis gratiam tuæ benedictiónis infúndas. Da mihi intelligéndi acúmen, retinéndi capacitátem, addiscéndi modum et facilitátem, interpretándi subtilitátem, loquéndi grátiam copiósam. Ingréssum ínstruas, progréssum dírigas, egréssum cómpleas. Tu, qui es verus Deus et Homo, qui vivis et regnas in sǽcula sæculórum. Amen.
O Creator ineffable, who of the riches of Thy wisdom didst appoint three hierarchies of Angels and didst set them in wondrous order over the highest heavens, and who didst apportion the elements of the world most wisely: do Thou, who art in truth the fountain of light and wisdom, deign to shed upon the darkness of my understanding the rays of Thine infinite brightness, and remove far from me the twofold darkness in which I was born, namely, sin and ignorance. Do Thou, who givest speech to the tongues of little children, instruct my tongue and pour into my lips the grace of Thy benediction. Give me keenness of apprehension, capacity for remembering, method and ease in learning, insight in interpretation, and copious eloquence in speech. Instruct my beginning, direct my progress, and set Thy seal upon the finished work, Thou, who art true God and true Man, who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
HOW TO GAIN AN INDULGENCE
To gain any indulgence you must be a Catholic in a state of grace. You must be a Catholic in order to be under the Church’s jurisdiction, and you must be in a state of grace because apart from God’s grace none of your actions are fundamentally pleasing to God (meritorious). You also must have at least the habitual intention of gaining an indulgence by the act performed.
To gain a partial indulgence, you must perform with a contrite heart the act to which the indulgence is attached.
To gain a plenary indulgence you must perform the act with a contrite heart, plus you must go to confession (one confession may suffice for several plenary indulgences), receive Holy Communion, and pray for the pope’s intentions. (An Our Father and a Hail Mary said for the pope’s intentions are sufficient, although you are free to substitute other prayers of your own choice.) The final condition is that you must be free from all attachment to sin, including venial sin.
If you attempt to receive a plenary indulgence, but are unable to meet the last condition, a partial indulgence is received instead.
Below are indulgences listed in the Handbook of Indulgences (New York: Catholic Book Publishing, 1991). Note that there is an indulgence for Bible reading. So, rather than discouraging Bible reading, the Catholic Church promotes it by giving indulgences for it! (This was the case long before Vatican II.)
An act of spiritual communion, expressed in any devout formula whatsoever, is endowed with a partial indulgence.
A partial indulgence is granted the Christian faithful who devoutly spend time in mental prayer.
A plenary indulgence is granted when the rosary is recited in a church or oratory or when it is recited in a family, a religious community, or a pious association. A partial indulgence is granted for its recitation in all other circumstances.
A partial indulgence is granted the Christian faithful who read sacred Scripture with the veneration due God’s word and as a form of spiritual reading. The indulgence will be a plenary one when such reading is done for at least one-half hour [provided the other conditions are met].
A partial indulgence is granted to the Christian faithful who devoutly sign themselves with the cross while saying the customary formula: "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."
In summary, the practice of indulgences neither takes away nor adds to the work of Christ. It is his work, through his body the Church, raising up children in his own likeness. "The Christian who seeks to purify himself of his sin and to become holy with the help of God’s grace is not alone. ‘The life of each of God’s children is joined in Christ and through Christ in a wonderful way to the life of all the other Christian brethren in the supernatural unity of the Mystical Body of Christ, as in a single mystical person’" (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1474 [Indulgentarium Doctrina 5]).