St Francis of Assisi (1181?–1226): Who better to help us explore the joyful in life and prayer?
First, some notes on Franciscan-style prayer, based on an article by Stefan Walser.
Next, 3 prayers written by St Francis (or connected with him) for you to try on and adapt. Indoors or outdoors. Alone or together.
Finally, a ‘Digging deeper’ section with a video and some links.
Characteristics of Franciscan prayer
1. Individual. Francis of Assisi developed a personal and individual way of praying, based on his unique personality and life story, and he encourages us to do the same.
2. Responsorial. Prayer is always a dialogue, a response, a ‘re-action’. Bringing one’s life to God, one gives back what one received from God. Therefore, Franciscan prayer always includes thanksgiving.
3. Affirmative. In affirming the gift of life and God as the Creator of life, we develop an affirmative attitude in general.
4. Universal. There is nothing that does not relate to God, and so there is nothing that cannot be part of prayer.
5. Connected to actions and work. Francis prays, even in the most seclusive moments of his life, that his prayers might have some “output” and that he may fulfil “God’s commands”.
6. Integral part of communal life. By centring communal life around prayer, a certain “contemplative” attitude in all things is maintained.
Canticle of the Sun
Most High, all-powerful sweet Lord,
yours is the praise, the glory,
and the honour & every blessing.
Be praised, My Lord, for all your creatures,
and first for brother sun,
who makes the day bright and luminous.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour.
He is the image of you, Most High.
Be praised, My Lord, for sister moon
and the stars, in the sky.
You have made them brilliant & precious & beautiful.
Be praised, My Lord, for brother wind
and for the air both cloudy and serene
and every kind of weather,
through which you give nourishment to your creatures.
Be praised, My Lord, for sister water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Be praised, My Lord, for brother fire,
through whom you illuminate the night.
And he is beautiful and joyous and robust and strong.
Be praised, My Lord, for our sister, mother earth,
who nourishes us and watches over us
and brings forth various fruits with coloured flowers & herbs.
Be praised, My Lord,
for those who forgive through your love,
and bear sickness & tribulation;
blessed are those who endure in peace,
for they will be crowned by you, Most High.
Be praised, My Lord, for our sister, bodily death,
from whom no living thing can escape.
Blessed are those whom she finds
doing your most holy will,
for the second death cannot harm them.
Praise and bless My Lord
and give thanks to him
and serve him with great humility.
St Francis’ prayer inspired by the “Our Father”
O our most holy Father:
Our Creator, Redeemer, Consoler, and Savior,
You are in heaven:
And in the angels and saints,
Inflaming us to love, because You, Lord, are love,
And filling us with happiness as our Supreme and Eternal Good.
Glorious is Your name:
May our knowledge of You become ever clearer
That we may know Your blessings and Your majesty.
Your Kingdom come:
Give us unclouded vision to let you rule in us through Your grace,
And so we enjoy a blessed companionship with You forever.
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven:
That we may love You with our whole heart,
Desire You with our whole soul,
Always think of You with affection,
Spend all our energies in serving You,
And that we may love our neighbours with Your love.
Give us this day our daily Bread:
Which is our Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
And forgive us our trespasses:
Through Your indescribable mercy to us in Christ,
Which we see in the faith and prayers of the blessed virgin Mary.
Help us to forgive those who trespass against us:
You, Lord, enable us to forgive to the full
So that we may truly love our enemies and intercede for them.
Lead us not into temptation:
Keep us from all sin, hidden or obvious.
Deliver us from evil:
Keep us from all that’s bad in the past, present, and to come.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
As it was in the beginning, it is now, and will be forever.
“Peace Prayer of Saint Francis”
First printed in France in 1912, this much-loved prayer may not have been written by St Francis, but it certainly embodies what he stood for.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled, as to console,
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Video: St. Francis from the series, “Who Cares About The Saints?”
Article: The Spirituality of St Francis of Assisi
Article: 7 Life lessons from St Francis of Assisi
Article: Francis of Assisi: A gospel way of life
Book review: When St Francis saved the church by Jon Sweeney
From the blog