Prayer of Thomas Bradwardine, c. 1295-1349, Chaplain and Confessor to Edward III, King of England.

“O great and wonderful Lord our God, thou only light of the eyes, open, I implore thee, the eyes of my heart, and of others my fellow-creatures, that we may truly understand and contemplate thy wondrous works. And the more thoroughly we comprehend them, the more may our minds be affected in the contemplation with pious reverence and profound devotion. Who is not struck with awe in beholding thy all-powerful will completely efficacious throughout every part of the creation? It is by this same sovereign and irresistible will, that whom and when thou pleasest thou bringest low and liftest up, killest and makest alive. How intense and how unbounded is thy love to me, O Lord! whereas my love, how feeble and remiss! my gratitude, how cold and inconstant! Far be it from thee that thy love should even resemble mine; for in every kind of excellence thou art consummate. O thou who fillest heaven and earth, why fillest thou not this narrow heart? O human soul, low, abject, and miserable, whoever thou art, if thou be not fully replenished with the love of so great a good, why dost thou not open all thy doors, expand all thy folds, extend all thy capacity, that, by the sweetness of love so great, thou mayest be wholly occupied, satiated, and ravished; especially since, little as thou art, thou canst not be satisfied with the love of any good inferior to the One supreme? Speak the word, that thou mayest become my God and most enviable in mine eyes, and it shall instantly be so, without the possibility of failure. What can be more efficacious to engage the affection than preventing love? Most gracious Lord, by thy love thou hast prevented me, wretch that I am, who had no love for thee, but was at enmity with my Maker and Redeemer. I see, Lord, that it is easy to say and to write these things, but very difficult to execute them. Do thou, therefore, to whom nothing is difficult, grant that I may more easily practise these things with my heart than utter them with my lips. Open thy liberal hand, that nothing may be easier, sweeter, or more delightful to me, than to be employed in these things. Thou, who preventest thy servants with thy gracious love, whom dost thou not elevate with the hope of finding thee?“


Thomas Bradwardine: c. 1295-1349, Doctor Profundus (“the Profound Doctor”), graduated Balliol College, Oxford, 1321, appointed Canon of Lincoln, 1333, Chancelor of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, 1337. Chaplain and confessor to King Edward III.

Committed Augustinian writing treatise against the Pelagians: De causa Dei contra Pelagium et de virtute causarum. (In defence of God against the Pelagians and on the power of causes). He was also a renowned scientist and mathematician.

He accompanied Edward III during wars in France at the Battle of Crécy (1346) where Edward led an army of 34,000 against France’s 100,000 and prevailed; Bradwardine preached at the victory Mass. The siege of Calais (1346-1347) followed with success. Repeatedly entrusted with diplomatic missions. Appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, 1348. Died from Black Death in 1349.

In the 1390s, Chaucer (c. 1340s-1400) ranks him with Augustine and Boethius in The Nun’s Priest Tale: “He’ll say the Schools are filled with altercation On this vexed matter of predestination Long bandied by a hundred thousand men. How can I sift it to the bottom then? The Holy Doctor St. Augustine shines In this, and there is Bishop Bradwardine’s Authority, Boethius’ too, decreeing Whether the fact of God’s divine foreseeing Constrains me to perform a certain act—And by “constraint” I mean the simple fact Of mere compulsion by necessity—Or whether a free choice is granted me To do a given act or not to do it Though, ere it was accomplished, God foreknew it, Or whether Providence is not so stringent And merely makes necessity contingent. But I declined to discuss the matter; My tale is of….”