THE FRANCISCAN SPIRIT FOR ADVENT
WEEK 1: SAINT CLARE & ERMENTRUDE OF BRUGES
Advent marks the beginning of the Church’s liturgical year. It is a time for prayer, penance, and preparation. It is a time to anticipate the coming of the Lord; and a time to open our hearts and minds to the nativity of the Child Jesus at Christmas. Throughout their lives, Saint Francis (1182-1226) and Saint Clare of Assisi (1194-1253) maintained a deep devotion to the Poor Christ: the merciful redeemer, savior, and brother who enters our lives as a homeless child born in a stable.
During this blessed and holy season, all are invited to join us in reflecting on some timeless voices from the Franciscan Spiritual Tradition that can help us, by divine grace, to make ready our hearts and our homes for the coming of the Christ Child into the world. This week, we pray with Saint Clare of Assisi’s Letter to Ermentrude of Bruges. Ermentrude was a devoted follower of Saint Clare and the founder of several convents in Flanders (Belgium).
Scholars debate whether this letter was actually written by Saint Clare. But since the sixteenth century, it has been revered as part of the canon of Clare’s writings; and it sings with the true voice of Clare and the Poor Ladies of San Damiano. Its words inspire us to focus not on the passing commerce and glitter of the holiday season, but on the lasting things of heaven. With Saint Clare and Ermentrude, let us pray for each other; for our brothers and sisters in faith; and for all who seek a better life during these troubled times: that we might faithfully prepare ourselves for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas.
The Letter of Saint Clare to Ermentrude of Bruges
To my very dear sister, Ermentrude,
from Clare of Assisi,
a lowly servant of Jesus Christ,
greetings and peace!
I have learned, my dear sister,
that you have fled the ways of the world
with the help of God’s grace.
I congratulate you for this;
and I rejoice that you are walking courageously
on the path of virtue with your spiritual daughters.
Beloved sister, be faithful
for the rest of your life to Christ Jesus,
to whom you have promised yourself,
because you be crowned by Him
with the garland of eternal life!
Our effort here is brief, but the reward is eternal.
May the excitements of the world not disturb you peace.
May the false delights of the world not deceive you.
May they simply flee like dark shadows from the light of heaven.
Bravely close your ears
to the whisperings of hell
and oppose all of its attacks!
Gladly endure all adversity.
Do not be haughty because of your good fortune.
Offer faithfully what you have promised to God.
Because of this, God will reward you.
Dearest friend, look only to heaven.
Take up the cross and follow Christ wherever he leads you.
Through Christ, we will enter into glory after many trials.
Love God from the depths of your heart.
Love Jesus, his Son, who was crucified for us,
for the sake of sinners;
and never let the though of him leave your mind.
Meditate constantly on the mysteries of the Cross;
and the agonies of the Blessed Mother,
who stands faithfully at the foot of that Cross.
Pray and be vigilant always!
The work you have begun so well, complete it!
The ministry you have assumed: fulfill it
with sincere humility and holy poverty.
My friend, do not be afraid!
God is faithful in all of his words,
and holy in all of his deeds.
He will pour blessings upon you and your sisters.
He will be your constant help.
He will be your best consolation.
He is our redeemer and our eternal reward.
Let us pray for each other
by carrying each other’s burden of charity.
In this way, we will easily fulfill the law of Christ! Amen!
Daytime Prayers for the First Week of Advent
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 and 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 Intercession of Saint Clare of Assisi
O Saint Clare,
ardent lover of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament,
help us to grow in love
for Christ Jesus, our Redeemer.
With strong faith and unwavering hope,
gather our wounded church,
our suffering world, and all people
into your loving heart
and lift us up to Jesus
with absolute confidence in his merciful Love.
O Saint Clare,
help us to be like you:
peaceful, kind, gentle,
strong, patient, and persevering
in the face of every difficulty.
Trusting in your powerful intercession,
we confidently praise and thank God, our Father,
for every blessing we have received.
Glory, praise, wisdom, and thanksgiving,
honor, power, and might to our God,
forever and ever. 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.
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 consecrates 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 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. A 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 approximately ten minutes in length.
Listen: Franciscan Night Prayer – Sunday (Click Player Above)
Read: Franciscan Night Prayer – Sunday (Printable)
Listen: Franciscan Night Prayer – Monday (Click Player Above)
Read: Franciscan Night Prayer – Monday (Printable)
Listen: Franciscan Night Prayer – Saturday (Click Player Above)
Read: Franciscan Night Prayer – Saturday (Printable)
Coming November 30: Franciscan Night Prayer – Monday
Coming December 1: Franciscan Night Prayer – Tuesday
Coming December 2: Franciscan Night Prayer – Wednesday
Coming December 3: Franciscan Night Prayer – Thursday
Coming December 4: Franciscan Night Prayer – Friday
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 ongoing ministries and programs for adults of all ages and backgrounds, please contact Cliff at email@example.com. Copyright 2020. All Rights Reserved. May the Lord give you peace!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. May the Lord give you peace!
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In Memory of Connie McGrath