The Praying Francis

O Most High,
Almighty, Good Lord God,
to Thee belong praise, glory, honor and blessing!

 (part 7)

 

     So begins St. Francisí immortal poem in praise of creation.  Down through the centuries and in many translations from the ancient Umbrian dialect in which it was first prayed, the CANTICLE OF THE CREATURES, or the CANTICLE OF BROTHER SUN, as it is sometimes called, marks a high point on the Little Poor Manís pilgrimage of prayer.

     The CANTICLE proclaims the overflowing wonder which filled the heart of St. Francis, the exultation of his spirit before the beauty of creation.  With the eyes of faith, he saw every creature rendering to the Creator glory and praise both in its being and through its being.  The CANTICLE is a hymn of glory, an outburst of spiritual joy.   It is a mystical flight in song of a man who was poor enough to own the universe and rich enough to reverence it in every smallest detail.

     But the CANTICLE OF THE CREATURES teaches us another valuable lesson about prayer.  It was composed not in the full bloom of health or in the fervor of first conversion, but less than two years before the death of St. Francis as he lay seriously ill in a little hut on the grounds of the monastery of San Damiano.  His blinded eyes could no longer bear to look upon the brightness of Brother Sun.  His stigmatized feet could no longer step firmly upon Sister Earth.  His love-wounded heart was burdened with suffering as he bore within it the weight of sin and the ingratitude of humanity.

     And yet, in the midst of his pain there flowered song, for the heart of Francis was right with God the Father, conformed to God the Son and flooded with the love of God the Holy Spirit which impelled him to invite all creation to

 

Praise and bless the Lord and give thanks to Him

and serve Him with great humility.

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