St Richard's Prayer
He went on to study at Oxford, Paris and Bologna and was captivated by the new Order of Friars Preachers. He studied theology with the Dominicans in Orleans and was ordained priest in 1242; thence he was recalled to Canterbury by the new Archbishop who had succeeded St Edmund of Abingdon, his great mentor and friend.
In 1244, Richard was consecrated bishop of Chichester and although he served for only eight years, he was noted for his effective care of souls, his zeal for reform and his love for the poor and sick, whom he served with exemplary holiness.
St Richard was canonized in 1262 by Pope Urban IV and on this day in 1276, his body was translated to a splendid shrine in Chichester Cathedral, which was to attract as many pilgrims as St Thomas of Canterbury's. As with that great English martyr, this holy bishop's shrine was despoiled by Henry VIII in 1538 and the bones of the saint were destroyed! A shrine in memory of him has since been established in the cathedral and one may visit it virtually here.
The beautiful Prayer of St Richard is one of my favourite and prayed in the aftermath of the wonderful Feast of Corpus Christi, it takes on a special resonance:
"Thanks be to you, my lord, Jesus Christ,
For all the benefits that you have given me;
For all the pains and insults you have borne for me.
O, most merciful redeemer, friend and brother,
May I know you more clearly;
Love you more dearly;
And follow you more nearly."
Like the famous antiphon written in honour of the Blessed Sacrament, the 'Ave Verum Corpus' and as St Thomas Aquinas also taught in the antiphon, 'O sacrum convivium', in the Holy Eucharist, Christ's "Passion is renewed"; the Eucharist is the Body of the One who "truly suffered, sacrificed on the Cross for mankind [and] whose pierced side flowed with water and Blood...". As such, when we receive the Eucharist and participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we do well recall Christ's saving Passion and to render unto Him thanks and praise, as the first part of St Richard's prayer does.
By Christ's Paschal Mystery which is made present in the Mass, He has redeemed us and restored us to friendship with God and made us adopted sons of God, co-heirs with Him, our brother. This is succinctly expressed in the address of the second part of St Richard's prayer and from thence flows a series of requests which find their fulfillment in the Eucharist: By partaking of Christ's Body and Blood, we come to know Our Lord more clearly and to love Him more dearly and these enable us to walk with greater fidelity in the Way of the Lord. But we have also seen how the Corpus Christi Procession is a real enactment of walking with Christ; in the Eucharistic Procession, we actually can follow Him more nearly and He enters our world, our lives, our ways to transform and renew them.
This Blessed Sacrament is truly a great gift, uniting us with St Richard of Chichester and all the saints, and a foretaste and promise of that blessed feast when we shall be united with them at the Lamb's Supper.