Francis' spirituality combines a real love for the creation and all of its manifestations with a traditional mystic's love for detachment from everything but God. Where the popular "Canticle of Brother Sun" is his song for God's many-splendored creation, the following prayer shows Francis turning his face straight toward heaven. It is ideal for us during this Lenten season.
O Lord Jesus Christ,
I pray You that the fiery and honey-sweet
power of Your love may detach my soul
from everything under heaven,
so that I may die for love of Your love,
Who out of love for Your people
did die on the tree of the Cross.
The authors of The Legend of the Three Companions, one of the earliest biographical documents written about Francis of Assisi, first recorded this brief prayer spoken as Francis kneeled in the old ruined church of San Damiano. It is the earliest of his prayers that we have.:
and glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me
more certain hope,
and perfect charity,
sense and knowledge
so that I may carry out
Your holy and true command
for my life
Lent is a time for looking inward. We're often too busy to be introspective — it might even seem to be a waste of time or self-indulgent — as our lives are filled with good work for others and necessary activity of all kinds. But as we begin to see an occasional thaw outside and a sliver more sunshine, we might slow down and spend more moments on our relationship with God.
Lent is that time of year which, as Shakespeare says in one of his sonnets, "thou mayest in me behold." My many other responsibilities — as father, spouse, employee, son and friend — don't fall away. But my role as a child of God takes center stage.
Lenten hymns cause me to reflect more than usual while I sing, and the lessons from the Hebrew Scriptures make me stop and think. That glorious lesson from Isaiah for Lent, for instance, must mean something that is vitally important for me today. During these 40 days, I'm better able to understand its possibilities:
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