Please pray this prayer often:
Canticle of the Creatures
St. Francis of Assisi
Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises,
the glory, and the honor, and all blessing,
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no human is worthy to mention Your name.
Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
who is the day and through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor;
and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather,
through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night,
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord,
through our Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.
Praised be You, my Lord,
through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.
Blessed are those who endure in peace for
by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord,
and give Him thanks and serve Him with great Humility. Amen
The miracle of Greccio . . . A real Franciscan Christmas
Life of St. Francis of Assisi
by friar Julian of Speyer (chap.X, 53-55, written ca. 1235)
"Moreover, something marvelous happened three years before the
blessed passing of Blessed Francis and, although many other things have been neglected, I think it is worthy of being recalled. The holy man assiduously meditated particularly on the things that were
done in the time of Christ, and did not wish, if her could help it, to neglect even a jot or tittle of what was narrated in the books of the holy gospel. Quite the contrary, he considered everything
written about Christ, but above all the vicissitudes of his life, and longed to experience the very sweet yoke and light burden of the Master himself.
Therefore, desiring to represent as faithfully as possible the lowly poverty of the infancy of the Savior born at Bethlehem, when the Feast of the Nativity was at hand, the man of God sent word to a religious nobleman in the town of Greccio named John, who provided an ox and an ass, with a stable, in anticipation of the joys of the coming celebration.
"Finally, the holy night arrived. Blessed Francis was there with many of his brothers gathered around him.
The hay in the manger is prepared, the ox and the ass are arranged around the manger, and the vigil celebration begins with joy. A great multitude of people stream together from various places, the night is filled with an unaccustomed joy and made luminous by candles and torches. And so, with a new ritual, the festival of a new Bethlehem is celebrated."
The brothers also paid their debt of praise to the Lord, and all present acclaimed him with new songs of praise. Blessed Francis, however, was standing before the manger full of sighs of joy and suffused by an indescribable sweetness. Finally, when Solemn Mass was celebrated above the manger, the holy Levite of God dressed in festive vestments proclaimed the gospel with a sonorous voice and then with a voice flowing with honey he preached to the people about the poor King born in Bethlehem. Truly, he was so overcome by sweet devotion toward the infancy of that King, that whenever he had to speak the name of Jesus Christ, he would, as if stuttering, call him "the babe of Bethlehem", out of an excess of loving tenderness.
Lest it be thought that these things happened without divine approval, a miraculous vision was shown to a certain virtuous man, who saw Blessed Francis go up to the manger and waken, as if from a deep sleep, a child who seemed to be laying there lifeless. It is therefore believed, and not without reason, that the Lord Jesus aptly revealed his infancy in this vision to the one who reflected upon it. He who was asleep or dead in the hearts of many, owing to forgetfulness, was awakened and recalled to memory by the teaching and example of Blessed Francis. The solemnities were completed with great exultation, and everyone happily returned to their homes."
Unfortunately, by contrast, we know only too well that some people in our society do not even want to look at the crib scene.
The crib scene recalls for us one of the two greatest events of all history - God-becoming-man (and God being our Redeemer). The crib carries the message: "I bring you news of great joy - you are loved."
When Blessed John Duns Scotus, ofm, was beatified, they wrote on the medal struck for the occasion: "Incarnatio - Summum Opus Dei" ["The Incarnation - the Greatest Work of God!"] This awesome fact manifests one of the key elements of our rich franciscan theology.
We always have a choice: to look at the crib scene, or to be a part of the scene, as Francis did. There we see and experience the powerful messages and examples of poverty/humility/dependency/love.
As St. John's gospel starts out (in his prologue), after Christ becomes man, he says: "he came unto his own, and his own received him not"! What an indictment!
But we gather to let the whole world know that we want to accept him, to receive Him -
- as our Priest (who offered the great sacrifice once and for all to redeem us)
- as our Prophet (our teacher, by his words and his example, of how life should be lived; what's important, etc.)
- as our King; a King with his Kingdom (the Prince of Peace as we express in our songs).
And we receive Communion as the seal on this acceptance - we accept him as Priest, Prophet, and King in our own lives once again.
Francis did not just want to look at a crib scene; he wanted to become a part of it!!
In fact, we come to realize that for Francis the crib was not just for Christmas! It can be for our prayerful appreciation every day of the year.
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
December 21, 2012
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A Gift of a New
by Fred Schaeffer, OFS 2019
Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis
Divine Mercy Fraternity
Vero Beach, FL
Term expires: 2/10/2022
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Helen Caldarone, OFS
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Five Franciscan Martyrs