The Canticle of the Creatures
By Saint Francis of Assisi
The days are noticeably longer. The trees are leafing out. The first flowers of the season are blooming. Summer is upon us! A season ends. A season begins. The start of a new season is always a good time to reflect upon the wonder of creation and to praise the Creator of all wonders! Saint Francis of Assisi did not need a calendar to remind him to look for joy and majesty in God’s works.
Wherever he went, Francis marveled at the beauty of every sunrise and sunset. He listened with delight to birdsong and the chirping of crickets. He was always amazed by the stars above and by the rush of a river’s current. He gazed in awe at flowers & herbs. One can almost imagine his glee at the site of the growing grapes or olive groves in the fields below the walled city of Assisi!
Late in life, while recovering from an illness near the little Church of Saint Damian (where his spiritual journey began), Francis wrote a song-prayer that is remembered as the “Canticle of the Creatures.” It was one of the first works of literature composed entirely in Italian. As we mark this change of seasons, let us join Saint Francis in his song of praise and thanksgiving to the “Most High” who creates all things and gives all living things their breath and life and ultimately, their rest.
The Canticle of the Creatures
Most High, almighty and good Lord,
yours are the praises, the glory, the honor, and all blessings!
To you alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no person is worthy to mention your holy name!
Praised be you, my Lord, with all your creatures,
especially our Brother Sun, who gives us the day
and through whom you give us the light.
He is beautiful and radiant with great splendor;
and he bears the likeness of you, Most High Lord!
Praised be you, my Lord, through our Sister Moon and all the stars;
in heaven, you formed them clear and precious and beautiful!
Praised be you, my Lord, through our Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather
through which you sustain your creations!
Praised be you, my Lord, through our Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night;
he is beautiful and robust and strong!
Praised be you, my Lord, through our Sister Earth,
who sustains and governs us;
and who produces fruits with colored flowers and herbs!
Praised be you, my Lord, through those who show mercy for your love;
and suffer sickness and tribulations!
Blessed are those who endure in peace for by you, they will be crowned!
Praised be you, my Lord, through our Sister Death,
from whom no living creature can escape!
Woe to those who perish in mortal sin!
Blessed are those whom death will find in your holy will,
for this death will do them no harm!
Praised and bless my Lord!
Give him thanks and serve him always with great humility!
Through this prayerful verse, Saint Francis reveals a deep mystical connection with God and God’s creations (to which he refers intimately as “Brother Sun” and “Sister Moon”, etc.). He sings of life, he sings of death, he sings of seasons. Winter ends. Spring passes. Summer begins. Day by day, night after night, season after season, Saint Francis brings us closer to God, the Creator of all things, the Father of all things. Saint Francis, pray for us! Saint Clare, pray for us! Our Lady of Angels, pray for us!
Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit that seeks to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the inspiration of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. Our mission is to serve the Church and to give witness to the Good News of Christ through formation and prayer, pilgrimage and retreat, and educating others about our way of life. In 2017, in celebration of our 10th anniversary year, we will lead our annual fall pilgrimage to Assisi; meet monthly for Mass, faith formation, and faith sharing; and offer adults several opportunities to experience a Franciscan-style days of prayer and reflection. For more information about the Assisi Project and upcoming opportunities for formation, prayer, and pilgrimage in the Franciscan spiritual tradition, please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. May the Lord give you peace!
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