Before I Begin – A Morning Prayer in the Style of Matthew.

            Guided by the impression my son Matthew Czerny made on his many friends as well as within his family, I wrote this prayer after Matthew’s death in a climbing accident at the age of 22 in September 1995.
           I wrote it in fits and starts over the first three days after Matthew died; much of it in the early morning when I couldn’t sleep. I had a great urge to have Matthew speak at his own funeral, and I might be able to guess and convey what he would say. But I would not deliver it orally; that would create inappropriate spectacle.
           I wrote whenever sporadic inspiration hit me. For instance, the reference to transmitting light to where “warmth and light are most needed” struck me from Matthew’s documentary  film studies and his uncle’s courageous dedication to social justice.
        The only exception is the three lines “From the rising…” – this is a little hymn I had written many years earlier, and Matthew heard it frequently at the end of Mass in our Parish. I included it because I felt it had become part of Matthew’s life and outlook.
      We printed the text on the back of the funeral Mass programme. Subsequently it was translated into numerous languages and found its way into various hands, as far away as India, Taiwan and a prison in Siberia. It has also appeared in the Living with Christ missalette and a religion textbook for Catholic high schools.


thank you for life and the world and for everyone with whom I share them.

Thank you for today.

Let me choose today’s goals wisely and live today perfectly.

Thank you for everything I touch.

I embrace all of creation,

from the leaf in my hand to the farthest ridge and mountaintop.

Let me use your riches respectfully; let me be a partner in your creative love.

Thank you for all the light that reaches me.

Let me transmit it further, especially where warmth and light are most needed.

Thank you for challenges.

Let me respond prudently and passionately; let me understand risks, prepare properly, then act with total commitment and courage.

When my action is completed, let me celebrate with my friends.

At the end of today,

may I remember to thank you for all my successes and failures.

May I continue to grow through them

until I reach the perfection of being to which I am called.

         From the rising to the setting of the sun, we are one.

         Like the light Lord that you send us from above, send down your love.

         Lord, may everything I do the whole day through give praise to you.



Robert Czerny lives in Ottawa and southwest Nova Scotia. Two main interests are ethics in Canada and Catholic social teaching and action.

  • Peter Bisson, SJ
    Posted at 01:12h, 13 December Reply

    Thank you Robert!

  • Lisa T
    Posted at 15:11h, 27 February Reply

    Hi Robert. I was a friend of Matthew’s when we were summer students at the film archives in 1995. I still remember his sunny smile and demeanor. I hope you and the rest of your family are well. Lisa

  • Anne Marie Fougere
    Posted at 09:30h, 28 April Reply

    I read your prayer in the Living With Christ missalette many many years ago. It touched me deeply and I have never stopped reading it every morning when I rise and thank God for another new day.
    Today I wanted to look you up and let you know that your prayer has been added to my prayer life. And there it will stay. God bless.

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