Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi

San Damiano, AssisiImage via Wikipedia
Today marks the anniversary of Francis of Assisi's death in 1226.

Just outside the town walls, past the olive trees which are hundreds of years old,

lies the chapel of St Damiano, the church that Francis rebuilt brick by brick.

In a field is a bronze statue of Francis sitting quietly looking out over the panoramic countryside spread below Assisi.

The founder of the Franciscans, Francis left a number of written prayers. So, to commemorate his passing, here is one of them.

Lord God:
you alone are holy, you who work wonders!


You are strong, you are great,
you are the Most High,
you are the almighty King,
you, holy Father, King of heaven and earth.

Lord God: you are Three and you are One,
you are goodness, all goodness,
you are the highest Good,
Lord God, living and true.

You are love and charity, you are wisdom,
you are humility, you are patience,
you are beauty, you are sweetness,
you are safety, you are rest, you are joy,
you are our hope
and our delight,

You are justice, you are moderation
you are all our wealth
and riches overflowing.
You are beauty, you are gentleness,
you are our shelter, our guard
and our defender,
you are strength, you are refreshment,
you are our hope.
you are our faith.
you are our love,
you are our complete consolation,
you are our life everlasting,
great and wonderful Lord,
all powerful God, merciful Saviour!

Click here to link to a post with music and videos done early last week for the feast day of St Francis of Assisi.

Lovely reflection on the life of St Francis by John Dear from here

Franciscan Richard Rohr on St Francis :

"Living in voluntary poverty, he viewed things from the bottom. His life is one long lesson in rebuilding. The motto of St. Francis was: "Let us begin again for up to now we have done nothing." Not a bad motto for twenty-first century Christians."

In this reflection, Jon Sweeney reminds us that  the century before Francis Bernardone was born in Assisi, Italy (b. 1170), was one of the most corrupt in the history of the Christian Church. 
It was so bad in those days that it was often said that the majority of priests and bishops were either practicing simony (extorting money), keeping prostitutes, or both. They were not just corruptible and prone to adultery, but they were extortionists and worse. 
The situation in France and Italy was such that it could not even be covered up. There was widespread opinion among the good elements of the Church leadership that the pope must deal severely with the negative elements, but there was also fear that his sanctions would be so widespread as to induce the faithful into the heresy of Donatism, a rejection of the Church because of some bad elements in it.

Nevertheless, in several encyclicals published between 1074 and 1109, Pope Gregory VII told all Christians that they must reject the sacraments given from the hands of corrupt priests. 

These letters sent out into the parishes and read aloud in public squares caused riots. Remember: This was the late Middle Ages. The Church stood at the centre of public life. Religion—which was only Christianity in many of these communities—was not a private affair, but a series of public pieties and obligations, all of which depended on the Church and the local priest for their authority.

It was into these troubled and confusing times that Francis was born. I will not outline his life story for you, here. Go and read Chesterton’s life of Francis, or Julien Green’s God’s Fool, or The Road to Assisi, by Paul Sabatier. All of these will give you a good understanding of the little poor man who became known to the world as St. Francis.

It is his spirit that I still cling to, and I am not alone. Millions of people pray to Francis for peace.  

His is a legacy of peace; and even though he didn’t actually pen that famous prayer, “Lord, Make Me an Instrument of Peace” (it was written anonymously a century ago), it is full of his spirit. 

The stories of the Wolf of Gubbio and the Preaching to the Birds are not just fanciful tales, but part of the chronicle of Francis’s extraordinary life. Sometimes saints make extraordinary things appear ordinary. We can learn from their examples that transformations of matter through the power of spirit are within our grasp, too.

Francis knew inner doubt and conflict. He often wondered whether or not his life—wandering around the hill-top towns of Umbria, preaching the Good News, caring for lepers, talking with and caring for animals - was really God’s work, or some sort of ruse. 

I love him for that. I pray to Francis in my own moments of self-doubt, asking him to help me in having the clarity of vision to see God at work in my life."

I share that prayer with Jon !!

Canticle of Brother Sun
St Francis Own Prayer 

Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord,
All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name. 

Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
Of You Most High, he bears the likeness. 

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair. 

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all weather's moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made. 

Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water,
So useful, humble, precious and pure. 

Praised be You my Lord through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong. 

Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,
Mother Earth
who sustains and governs us,
producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs. 

Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardon
for love of You and bear sickness and trial.
Blessed are those who endure in peace,
By You Most High, they will be crowned. 

Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will.
No second death can do them harm.
Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks,
And serve Him with great humility.

Francis of AssisiImage by gwilmore via Flickr

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