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Spending Some Time with St. Francis of Assisi

October 3, 2012

At this morning’s Holy Eucharist, we celebrated a day early the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, one of the most beloved figures in history. Francis was born in Assisi in central Italy in 1181 or 1182. Growing up, the expectation was that Francis would take over the family cloth merchant business, despite his rebellious youth and strained relationship with his father. But following his capture and imprisonment in a war with the local city of Perugia, Francis returned a changed man. He took to caring for disused churches and for the poor, particularly those suffering from leprosy. While praying in the semi-derelict church of San Damiano, he distinctly heard the words: “Go and repair my church, which you see is falling down.” Others joined him and he prepared a simple, gospel-based Rule by which they could live. As their Order grew, the Franciscans bore witness to Our Lord through their preaching the gospel of repentance, emphasizing Jesus’ poverty as an example for his followers; and above all, their character and deeds of love. Francis went to be with his Lord on the evening of 3 October 1226.

Below are St. Francis’ paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer, a prayer by St. Francis, and some videos, which I hope will encourage us to give ourselves to the Lord with a zeal like his. 

ST. FRANCIS’ PARAPHRASE OF THE LORD’S PRAYER:

Our Father
Creator, Redeemer, Saviour and Comforter.

In heaven
In the angels and the saints.
You give them light so that they may have knowledge,
because you are light.
You inflame them so that they may love,
because you are love.
You live continually in them
so that they may be happy,
because you are the supreme good,
the eternal good,
and it is from you all good comes
and without you there is no good.

Hallowed be your name
May our knowledge of you become ever clearer,
so that we may realise the breadth of your blessings,
the extent of your promises,
the height of your majesty
and the depth of your judgements.

Your kingdom come
So that you may reign in us by your grace
and bring us to your kingdom,
where we shall see you clearly, love you perfectly,
be happy in your company
and enjoy you for ever.

Your will be done, on earth as in heaven
That we may love you with our whole heart
by always thinking of you;
with our whole mindby directing our whole intention towards you
and seeking your glory in everything;
and with all our strength
by spending all our energies and affections of soul and body
in the service of your love alone.
And may we love our neighbour as ourselves,
encouraging them all to love you as best we can,
rejoicing at the good fortune of others,
just as if it were our own,
and sympathising with their misfortunes,
while giving offence to no one.

Give us today our daily bread
Your own beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
to remind us of the love he showed for us
and to help us to understand and appreciate it
and everything that he did or said or suffered.

And forgive us our sins
In your infinite mercy,
and by the power of the passion of your Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
together with the merits and the intercession
of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints.

As we forgive those who sin against us
And if we do not forgive perfectly,
make us forgive perfectly,
so that we may truly love our enemies for love of you
and pray fervently to you for them,
returning no one evil for evil,
anxious only to serve everybody in you.

Lead us not into temptation
Hidden or obvious, sudden or unforeseen.

But deliver us from evil
Present, past or future. Amen.

A PRAYER BY ST. FRANCIS:

May the power of your love, Lord Christ, fiery and sweet as honey, so absorb our hearts as to withdraw them from all that is under heaven. Grant that we may be ready to die for love of your love, as you died for love of our love. Amen.

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The source for St. Francis’ biography, paraphrase, and prayer is http://www.oremus.org/oremus.cgi?d+11+10+04+f. The image at the top of this posting is of the Cross at San Damiano. The icon of Francis is by the modern Welsh artist Aidan Hart.

The first video below is a snippet of Franco Zeffirelli’s 1972 film “Brother Sun, Sister Moon,” in which Francis and his companions are restoring the church of San Damiano. The second video is Francis’ “Canticle of Brother Sun” set to music.  And the third and fourth videos are the hymn, “All Creatures of Our God and King,” which is based on this Canticle.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My October 4, 2011 posting, “A Prayer for Animals in Honour of St. Francis of Assisi,” can be accessed by clicking here.

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