Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Full Moon for Francis

The Prayer of St. Francis 

Lord make me a channel of thy peace;
that where there is hatred, I may bring love; 
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness ; 
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony ; 
that where there is error, I may bring truth; 
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith; 
that where there is despair, I may bring hope; 
that where there are shadows, I may bring light; 
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted; 
to understand, than to be understood ; 
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. 
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. 
It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life.  

Today is October 4, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi.  Last night, Sister Moon put on quite a show for him.  As I sat on my porch and gazed at her glorious fullness, I heard bells from the San Francisco de Asis church.  They rang for a long long time.  I suppose there was a mass celebrating St. Francis, and I'm sure they're doing it today too.

This blog will have to serve as my little tribute to Francis.  I just adore him.  Such a rabble-rouser, such a poet, so much compassion.  A great combination of qualities, if you ask me.

Nowadays, he's considered patron saint of the environment, because of his great love for all of creation.  I think the feast of St. Francis should be widely celebrated as a second annual Earth Day.  The rate things are going in this world, we could use at least two.

When I was in San Francisco for the first time, I had a major blonde moment (and I'm not even blonde).  I wandered into one of the cathedrals (don't remember which one) and was surprised that there was so much stuff in the gift shop about St. Francis, until I (DUH) put it together:  San Francisco = St. Francis.  (Believe it or not, I actually have a master's degree.)

Anyway, I bought this poster.  I'm pretty picky about art that I like enough to look at every day, but I love this and have it up in my bedroom:

Il Transito di san Francesco alla Porziuncola
(St. Francis Dying at Porziuncola)
by Gerardo Dottori

I never get tired of looking at it.  It' so vivid and meditative at the same time.

At the San Francisco de Asis church here, in addition to the statue of St. Francis that I mentioned in my previous post, there's also this little alcove about two feet high, built into the western well surrounding the church. 


I love that Francis is holding a dove here, since there are actual doves that live in the bell towers of the church.  I even managed to capture this photo of a dove and a pigeon hanging out:

I think it's pretty neat that there's so much animal and plant life at a church dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi.  It's like they know they're welcome there.  The Canticle of the Creatures is perpetually whispered on the breeze.

What is truly glorious about the Canticle (also known as the Canticle of the Sun) is that he wrote it on his deathbed.  Apparently, he was lying there, tempted to feel sorry for himself, questioning the fairness of his pain and infirmities.  But in that darkness he chose gratitude - for the opportunity to soon leave the world and move on to the next, but also for the world itself, and all he had loved in it.

I think this is very similar to the way the book of Job ends.  I've always thought that God's speech to Job is about loving the creation as the answer to suffering.  It's like God is saying the way to deal with suffering is to be amazed, to realize how little we actually know and understand, but then go out into the creation and see and know and love the creatures, and by extension, the Creator.

Francis, I think, knew this best of all.

The Canticle of the Creatures

Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord,
All praise is Yours, all glory, honor and blessings.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong;
 no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.

 We praise You, Lord, for all Your creatures,
especially for Brother Sun,
who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor,
of You Most High, he bears your likeness.

We praise You, Lord, for Sister Moon and the stars,
in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

We praise You, Lord, for Brothers Wind and Air,
 fair and stormy, all weather's moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.

We praise You, Lord, for Sister Water,
so useful, humble, precious and pure.

We praise You, Lord, for Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night.
 He is beautiful, playful, robust, and strong.

We praise You, Lord, for Sister Earth,
 who sustains us
with her fruits, colored flowers, and herbs.

We praise You, Lord, for those who pardon,
for love of You bear sickness and trial.
Blessed are those who endure in peace,
by You Most High, they will be crowned.

We praise You, Lord, for Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in their sins!
Blessed are those that She finds doing Your Will.
No second death can do them harm.  

We praise and bless You, Lord, and give You thanks,
and serve You in all humility.



  1. Hi Polly

    I have been pulled by the Prayer of St Francis a couple of times this past week...thinking I should wrap a post around it. I recited this prayer before I went into my counselling practice each day...So I am so glad you have and now I see the reason why...It is HIS day...

    thank you for this lovely post and for the final prayer that I have not read before.

    Happy days Polly

  2. Your welcome. Happy days to you too.

  3. Thank you for your presence and awareness.

  4. I never suspected one iota of this. I never knew St. Francis was such an interesting fellow, nor that he had such beautiful prayers and canticles associated with him. Thank you for bringing some light to my mind.

  5. I like St Francis - always have done. Thanks for this - I love the painting and the photos, and of course the writing.



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