SAINT FRANCIS SINGS OF SEASONS

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!

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About 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 c.garvey@ymail.com. May the Lord give you peace!

Follow us on Twitter: @_AssisiProject

UNIVERSAL FRATERNITY

cropped-laudato-si-quotes.jpgA Reflection on Civic Life
By Pope Francis

Care for nature is part of a lifestyle which includes the capacity for living together and communion. Jesus reminded us that we have God as our common Father and that this makes us brothers and sisters. Fraternal love can only be gratuitous; it can never be a means of repaying others for what they have done or will do for us. That is why it is possible to love our enemies. This same gratuitousness inspires us to love and accept the wind, the sun and the clouds, even though we cannot control them. In this sense, we can speak of a “universal fraternity”.

We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it. We have had enough of immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith and honesty. It is time to acknowledge that light-hearted superficiality has done us no good. When the foundations of social life are corroded, what ensues are battles over conflicting interests, new forms of violence and brutality, and obstacles to the growth of a genuine culture of care for the environment.

Saint Therese of Lisieux invites us to practise the little way of love, not to miss out on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship. An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness. In the end, a world of exacerbated consumption is at the same time a world which mistreats life in all its forms.

Love, overflowing with small gestures of mutual care, is also civic and political, and it makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world. Love for society and commitment to the common good are outstanding expressions of a charity which affects not only relationships between individuals but also “macro-relationships, social, economic and political ones. That is why the Church set before the world the ideal of a “civilization of love.” Social love is the key to authentic development: “In order to make society more human, more worthy of the human person, love in social life – political, economic and cultural – must be given renewed value, becoming the constant and highest norm for all activity.” In this framework, along with the importance of little everyday gestures, social love moves us to devise larger strategies to halt environmental degradation and to encourage a “culture of care” which permeates all of society. When we feel that God is calling us to intervene with others in these social dynamics, we should realize that this too is part of our spirituality, which is an exercise of charity and, as such, matures and sanctifies us.

Not everyone is called to engage directly in political life. Society is also enriched by a countless array of organizations which work to promote the common good and to defend the environment, whether natural or urban. Some, for example, show concern for a public place (a building, a fountain, an abandoned monument, a landscape, a square), and strive to protect, restore, improve or beautify it as something belonging to everyone. Around these community actions, relationships develop or are recovered and a new social fabric emerges. Thus, a community can break out of the indifference induced by consumerism. These actions cultivate a shared identity, with a story which can be remembered and handed on. In this way, the world, and the quality of life of the poorest, are cared for, with a sense of solidarity which is at the same time aware that we live in a common home which God has entrusted to us. These community actions, when they express self-giving love, can also become intense spiritual experiences.

Note: This reflection is an excerpt from Pope Francis’s Encyclical Letter entitled “Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home (Chapter Six, Section VI)” which was published in May 2015. All are invited to read and reflect on the complete text by clicking here.

A Prayer for Peace

Holy Spirit of Peace,
settle deep within our hearts,
Let our actions be free from aggression & anger.
Let our words be only ones of compassion & caring.
Let our every breath inhale your wisdom
and exhale your grace.
In such a way, help us to bear each other’s burdens,
if only in part, so that we may become
instruments of your peace.
We ask this through Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Amen.

Saint Francis, pray for us!
Saint Clare, pray for us!
Our Lady of Angels, pray for us!

__________

About 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 c.garvey@ymail.com. May the Lord give you peace!

Follow us on Twitter: @_AssisiProject