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St Francis Speaks About Prayer

by Marianne Buzzelli

In the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order St. Francis exhorts his Franciscan brothers and sisters to have “prayer and contemplation be the soul of all we are and all we do”.

So how do we accomplish this? St. Thomas of Celano and St. Bonaventure describe Francis’ great zeal for prayer and how Francis would go off to be alone in his prayer, just as Jesus often did during his ministry.

St. Thomas of Celano said “… The man of God, who was already holy because of his holy intention, was accustomed to enter the cave, while his companion waited outside, and inspired by a new and extraordinary spirit he would pray to his Father in secret. He acted in such a way that no one would know what was happening within. Wisely taking the occasion of the good to conceal the better, he consulted God alone about his holy purpose. He prayed with all his heart that the eternal and true God guide his way and teach him to do His will. He endured great suffering in his soul, and he was not able to rest until he accomplished in action what he had conceived in his heart. …”

St. Bonaventure, presented this description of the constant, deep prayer of St Francis,
“The servant of Christ knowing that he was in his body a pilgrim and an exile from the lord, had already become, for the charity of Christ wholly insensible to the desire of earthly or exterior things, lest he should remain without the consolation of true love; and so praying without intermission he endeavored to keep his spirit in the continual presence of God. And great, assuredly, was his consolation in prayer, while he contemplated the whole circle of the mansions of the angels, with whom he was already a fellow citizen, and with fervent desires sought his Beloved, from whom he was only divided by the wall of the flesh. And this prayer was also a great help to him in all his works, wherein he distrusted his own endeavors; and trusting wholly in prayer, rested all his thoughts upon the Lord.” We hear in these words also how Francis desired so much to know and live totally within the Divine Providence of God, how he prayed without intermission, and of his union with Christ, his beloved.

Of all of the writings by the friends of St Francis describing his method of prayer the one that is most indicative of his life was written by Thomas of Celano, the first biographer of St. Francis. He said this about Francis and his life of prayer: “He does not so much pray, as he becomes himself a prayer”.

Reflection: St Francis was a saint known to be closest to union with Jesus and His cross. He even carried the stigmata, the wounds of Christ on his body which he offered for souls. He was united to Jesus in his work for the poor, his life devoted in imitation of Christ, and his constant prayer. He truly radiated Christ to all who encountered him. How wonderful that it seems that St Francis not only accomplished the mission we are all given on earth – to know, love, and serve God totally, accepting the Divine Will of God. But, he also seemed to have accomplished our eternal goal of union with God. For St Francis united every action and thought to the will of God in imitation of His Divine Son, Jesus. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to follow the example of St. Francis in conforming ourselves to Jesus in such a way that we too may not only have a life of deep prayer, but become a living prayer. You can learn more about the life and prayer of St. Francis as you listen to The Little Flowers of St Francis. This wonderful collection of stories on 4 CDs will truly inspire your prayer life.

Bio:  Marianne Buzzelli is a Catholic writer and owner of Holy Cross Necklaces which sells fine cross necklaces, saint medals, rosaries, Christian rings, religious statuary, Catholic books, and more.


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