Advent marks the beginning of the Church’s liturgical year. It is a time for prayer, penance, and preparation. Even during the darkest moments in our lives, it is a time to joyfully anticipate the coming of the Lord; a time to open our hearts and minds to the Nativity of the Christ Child at Christmas. Blessed Jacopone of Todi is among those saints and sinners whose lives were transformed and whose broken hearts were healed by God’s merciful love. He lived from 1230 until 1306. Born into nobility, Jacopone practiced law and accumulated great wealth and influence in his hometown.

In 1268, his beloved wife, Vanna, was killed in a freak accident at a local festival. Upon learning that his late wife wore a penitential corset to atone for his sins, Jacopone donated his riches to the poor. After living as a hermit and penitent for several years, he eventually entered the Order of Friars Minor, the religious fraternity founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Jacopone became part of the group known as the Spirituals, which insisted on living the Rule of Saint Francis in its most strict and literal form. In 1298, two decades after joining the Franciscans, Jacopone penned a satirical critique of Pope Boniface VIII. The Holy Father was not amused. During those days, the pope carried both the keys to the kingdom of heaven and commanded powerful armies. Jacopone was arrested, excommunicated, and sentenced to life in prison.

In 1303, a new pope, Benedict XI, pardoned and released the aging and ailing friar. Jacopone retired to an isolated hermitage near a convent of Poor Clares who fed him and cared for him. Tradition teaches that at the approach of Christmas in 1306, Jacopone begged for the Sacrament of the Sick from his old friend, John of La Verna. Ever the loyal friend, John rushed to his side. On Christmas Eve, during the celebration of Holy Mass, just as the priest intoned the first words of the Gloria, Jacopone passed from this life.

More than eight hundred years later, Jacopone of Todi is best remembered for writing the Stabat Mater, which is still sung in churches throughout the world. During this Third Week of Advent, however, we pray with and reflect on a passage from the Lauds by Jacopone of Todi. These prayers and verses were probably written for his own use during those long and lonely years in the papal prison. Despite almost unimaginable suffering in that prison, Jacopone maintained his deep faith, discipline in prayer, and abiding joy in the love and mercy of the Poor Christ. He writes: “God does not dwell in a heart that is confined; a heart is only as large as the love it holds.”

The following passage, often called the Salutation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, pays tribute to the young girl from Nazareth who carried the Christ Child in her womb and loved him into the world. With Jacopone of Todi, let us pray for each other; for our brothers and sisters in faith; and for all who suffer and grieve during these troubled times — that through the intercession of the Blessed Mother and Blessed Jacopone of Todi, all people might find real peace and true joy at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas.

A Salutation to the Blessed Virgin Mary
By Blessed Jacopone of Todi

Hail Virgin Mary,
Holy Blessed Mary!
You carry God within you,
God and man,
but his weight does not burden you.

Miraculous virgin birth!
A child born from your sealed womb!
The infant joyfully leaves the castle,
through the locked gates,
because it would not be fitting
for God to do violence
to the womb that shelters him.

O Mary, how did you feel
when you first saw him?
Did love nearly destroy you?

As you gazed upon him,
how could you sustain such love?
As you gave him nourishment,
how could you bear such joy?
When he turned to you and called you Mother,
how could you bear being called
the Mother of God?

O Holy Lady, I am struck silent
when I think of how you looked at him,
when you held him,
when you tended to his every need.
What did you feel
when you held him in your arms?
The love that bound you makes me weep!

Most warm and blessed heart,
alive and aflame,
how is that love did not consume you?
Fortitude sustained you
and steadied your burning heart.

The humility of the Child
dwarfed even your own humility.
By your acceptance, you ascended to glory!
But he abased himself;
and humbled himself to our wretched state.
Compared to his humility in becoming like us,
all other humility is nothing but pride!

Come, one and all!
Come running!
Come and see Eternal Life
wrapped in bands of simple cloth!
Take him into your arms!

He will embrace you!
He has come to redeem us!
He has come to redeem the world
which has lost its hope!

Glory to the Father,
to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Daytime Prayers for the Third Week of Advent

In the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Our Father,
who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

For our families & friends: Hail Mary…
For our parish communities: Hail Mary…
For our Holy Father, Pope Francis: Hail Mary…
For our departed brothers & sisters: Hail Mary…
For the poor, the sick, and the left behind: Hail Mary…
For all who have asked us to pray for them: Hail Mary…
For an increase in faith, hope & love in the world: Hail Mary…
For an increase in peace, justice & solidarity in the world: Hail Mary…
For our divided country, wounded church & suffering world: Hail Mary…

Glory to the Father,
to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.

A Prayer for the Advent Season

Good and gracious God,
may the powerful intercession
of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi
bring us closer to Christ,
closer to the Church,
and closer to each other.
May their prayers comfort us,
empower us, and protect us
as we strive to live the Gospel,
share God’s love,
and rebuild the Church
during Advent, at Christmas, and always.
We make this prayer
through the Poor Christ,
our merciful Lord and savior. Amen.

Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us!
Blessed Jacopone of Todi, pray for us!
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!

ADVENT 2020 - WK 3

The Franciscan Spirit for Advent & Christmas

A Franciscan Night Prayer

Saint Paul writes: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16).” For centuries, Christians have puzzled over what it means to pray without ceasing. But one ancient practice provides an answer: the Liturgy of the Hours. Since the middle ages, the Church has used a daily practice of prayer called the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours to mark and sanctify the various hours of the day: morning, afternoon, evening, and night. It is a four week cycle of psalms, canticles, and scripture readings that call us together into a deeper relationship with Christ and the Church by bringing us together through prayers of praise, petition, intercession, and thanksgiving.

At ordination, our deacons and priests make solemn promises to pray the Liturgy of the Hours every day, using a book called the Breviary. But the Divine Office is not just for the clergy and those consecrated to religious life. Countless lay people around the world make the Liturgy of the Hours part of their daily prayer and worship. Indeed, when we pray these prayers, whether alone or in community, we are united in a powerful spiritual communion that helps to heal, redeem, and consecrate our sick and suffering world.

Unlike the other hours of the Divine Office, Compline (or Night Prayer) works on a seven day cycle. Every Sunday, the prayers are the same. Every Monday, the prayers are the same. And so on. According to the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours: “Night Prayer is the last prayer of the day, said before retiring, even if that is after midnight.” About this form of prayer, Pope Francis says: “I am very attached to the Breviary…It is the first thing I open in the morning and the last thing I close before going to sleep.”

In this spirit, in solidarity with Pope Francis, and in communion with Christian disciples all around the world, all are invited to join us in offering the Assisi Project’s Franciscan Night Prayer. This version includes the traditional psalm, reading, and canticle of the day. It also includes antiphons, readings, and a Marian devotion from the Franciscan Spiritual Tradition. Our Franciscan Night Prayer can be prayed by listening to our podcast, following along with the print version, or praying silently with the print version (see links below). Each recording is less than ten minutes in length. Come, let’s pray together!

AP NIGHT PRAYERClick Links Below
Podcasts & Printable Versions

About the Presenter

Cliff Garvey is a co-founder of the Assisi Project. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine, Saint John Seminary College, and the Catholic University of America. Cliff is a spiritual director, retreat leader, writer, and university lecturer. He also serves as Associate Minister of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport in Massachusetts where his ministry focuses on adult faith formation. Thank you for listening to the Franciscan Spirit for Advent & Christmas and Franciscan Night Prayer. These audio recordings are produced by the Assisi Project, Inc. For more information about the Assisi Project and our ministries and programs for adults of all ages and backgrounds, please contact Cliff at Copyright 2020. All rights reserved. Art Credit: The Anchorite by Teodor Axentowicz (1881). May the Lord give you peace!


About Us

Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with friends and followers throughout the world. We are dedicated to helping Christian believers of all ages more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. The Assisi Project is a non-profit, tax exempt charitable organization. All are welcome to support our ministry via PayPal or AmazonSmile (links below); or by sending a tax-deductible donation to the Assisi Project, Post Office Box 3158, Gloucester, Massachusetts 01931-3158. For more information about the Assisi Project and our upcoming opportunities for formation, prayer, and pilgrimage, please contact Cliff Garvey at May the Lord give you peace!

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