The Praying Francis
"Who are You, my Lord?"
 
(part 5)

     Who are You, my Lord?

     Prayer, like love, is a many-splendored thing.   Prayer is conversation with God.   It is also listening to God.   Prayer is the song of the spirit caught up in joy before the beauty of creation; it is the silence of the soul bent low in adoration before the mystery of the Creator.

     For St. Francis of Assisi , prayer was a very simple thing.  It was the night-long vigil spent in simply asking God:

Who are You, my dearest Lord, and what am I?

     It was his daytime responding to Godís revealing answer.   

     Prayer was the high exultation of the Seraphic Fatherís spirit before the wonder of Godís creating love.  It was also Francisí anguish in the face of the sin, the indifference and the ingratitude of so many, which caused him to cry out:

Love is not loved!

     Prayer for St. Francis was attentiveness to Godís voice and Godís presence in the psalms he sang, the Divine Office he recited, the Masses he attended.   Prayer was what made Francis so acutely aware of Godís love, manifested in the death of His only-begotten Son.   The sight of a lamb being led to market reminded him of the slain Lamb of God.  The discovery of a worm on the roadside caused Francis to weep for the suffering Redeemer who, in the words of the psalmist, had become a worm and no man.  All of this was the fruit of prayer and the impetus for deeper, truer, more contemplative prayer.

     Prayer for the Little Poor Man was not confined to the heights of spiritual exultation.  It was strength in the face of dryness and distraction, disappointment and discouragement.  

     Prayer for St. Francis was as endearingly direct as his often repeated sigh offered in contrition for his failings, in petition for perseverance, in humble yearning for the great goal of all prayer which is intimate union with God:

Dear Lord, I would like to love You!

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