From these first observations by his earliest biographer, Thomas of Celano we discover a Francis who lived Prayer.
- Chapter 17: How the blessed Francis taught the brethren to pray; and concerning the obedience and purity of the brethren
45. At that time the brethren entreated St. Francis to teach them to pray, because, walking in simplicity of spirit, they knew not as yet the offices of the Church.30 And he said to them, “When you pray, say, ‘Our Fathers’; and & ‘We worship You, O Christ, [here]31 and at all Your churches which are in all the world, and we bless You for that by Your holy Cross You have redeemed the world” And this the brethren, dutiful disciples of their master, were most careful to observe, for not only those things which blessed Francis told them by way of brotherly advice or fatherly command, but even those things which he was thinking of or meditating on, if they could get to know them by any token, they strove most effectually to fulfill.(1 Celano 1 Chapter 17)
- “But St. Francis, who trusted not in his own skill, but prefaced every business with holy prayer chose not to live for himself alone but for Him who died for all, knowing himself to have been sent for this, that he might gain for God souls that the devil was trying to take away.”(1Celano 1 chapter 14)
- For his safest haven was prayer, not prayer for one moment, not vacant or presumptuous prayer, but long-continued, full of devotion, calm and humble; if he began late he scarce ended with morning. Walking, sitting, eating and drinking, he was intent on prayer. He would often go alone by night to pray in churches which were deserted, or in lonely places, wherein, under the protection of God’s grace, he got the better of many fears and distresses of mind.(1 Celano 1 Chapter 27) 1
There are also oral traditions that grant insight into the importance Francis placed on the model of his Saviour as his modus vivendi. This is an extract from the 14th century”The Little Flowers of St. Francis” Part 1 chapter 13
“As thy prayer and thy wish is to observe that which Christ and his holy Apostles observed, the Lord Jesus sends us to thee, to tell thee that thy prayer has been heard, and that it is granted to thee and to all thy followers to possess the treasure of holy poverty. We tell thee also from him, that whosoever, after thy example, shall embrace this holy virtue, shall most certainly enjoy perfect happiness in heaven; for thou and all thy followers shall be blessed by God.”2
The thing Francis wanted above all things was to experience everything that His lord Jesus experienced even to the Crucifixion – if he could…
There are literally thousands of examples of Francis’ attitude to prayer, the prayers he wrote and those attributed to him yet the most significant Prayer he wrote, is/ was the Office of the Passion .Through praying it we discover that Francis wrote it using the words of the Logos with very few additions. It is written from the perspective of Our Lord Jesus, in the first person, as He underwent his Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension. The Complete Work forms an Office for every season of the Year also for Holy Days and Sundays.
The Passion of the Holy Cross to which the Easter Triduum is referred begins at Compline of Holy Thursday and is completed at Vespers on Saturday. Francis spent the entire Triduum on his knees praying both the Office of the Church and The Office of the Holy Cross.
Here for example is Francis’ Psalm VI as translated by Paschal Robinson from the Latin – sounds familiar doesn’t it.
Ant. Holy Mary.
Holy Virgin Mary, there is none like unto Thee born in the world among women, daughter and handmaid of the most high King, the heavenly Father! Mother of our most holy Lord Jesus Christ, Spouse of the Holy Ghost; pray for us, with St. Michael Archangel, and all the Virtues of heaven, and all the Saints, to thy most holy, beloved Son, our Lord and Master. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen.
Lam. 1: 12. O all ye that pass by, attend and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow.
Ps. 21: 17. For many dogs have encompassed me; the council of the malignant hath besieged me.
Ps. 21: 18. They looked and stared upon me;
Ps. 21: 19. they parted my garments among them and upon my vesture cast lots.
Ps. 21: 17. They have dug my hands and my feet;
Ps. 21: 18. they numbered all my bones.
Ps. 21: 14. They have opened their mouth against me: as a lion ravening and roaring.
Ps. 21: 15. I am poured out like water and all my bones are scattered.
And my heart is become like melting wax in the midst of my bowels.
Ps. 21: 16. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue hath cleaved to my jaws.
Ps. 68: 22. And they gave me gall for my food: and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
Ps. 21: 16. And Thou hast brought me into the dust of death;
Ps. 68: 27. and they have added to the grief of my wounds.
I slept and rose again; and my most holy Father received me with glory.
Ps. 72: 24. Holy Father, Thou hast held my right hand; and by Thy will Thou hast conducted me and hast received me with glory.
Ps. 72: 25. For what have I in heaven; and besides Thee what do I desire upon earth?
Ps. 45: 11. Be still and see that I am God, saith the Lord; I will be exalted among the nations and I will be exalted in the earth.
Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
Ps. 33: 23. who has redeemed the souls of His servants with His own most holy Blood; and none of them that trust in Him shall offend.
Ps. 95: 13. And we know that He cometh; for He will come to judge justice. 3
This has been more of a walk through research to check memory, i am a little disappointed that the Latin Edition seems to have gone for the web and I cannot find my own version because the instructions for the Rubrics for the Office are more explicit there.
To be the Franciscan at Prayer is to live and breathe Prayer, to put on Christ and to become one with him.
- The First Life of St Francis. 2015. The First Life of St Francis. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.efo.org.au/1celano.htm. [Accessed 30 December 2015].
- Little Flowers of St. Francis – Part 1. 2015. Little Flowers of St. Francis – Part 1. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/flowers1.htm. [Accessed 30 December 2015].
- The Writings of St. Francis of Assisi: Part III. Prayers of St. Francis: VI. The Office of the Passion. 2015. The Writings of St. Francis of Assisi: Part III. Prayers of St. Francis: VI. The Office of the Passion. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/wosf/wosf23.htm. [Accessed 30 December 2015].