May 2012 – Contemplative Prayer V

Focus on the spirituality of St. Francis

May 2012

Contemplation and Prayer V©

Dear Friend of Saint Francis,

Mark Elvins OFM Cap writes, “The beauty of creation, its order and harmony, bespeaks a divine Creator. Creation is not therefore just a backdrop for human activity, it is a sacramental sign of the presence of God. The meaning and purpose of God is the outpouring of his love and a sign of his prodigal generosity. The lesson of creation is the glory of God, for creation glorifies God by its very existence.”

He adds that “in this way Bonaventure views creation as sacramental and all created things as signs of God’s presence. The world and all creation can in this way be understood ‘as a means of God’s self revelation, so that, like a mirror’ it can reflect God’s glory and lead humans to love and praise the Creator. This Franciscan view of the world is echoed by St Angela of Foligno, who proclaimed that the world was ‘pregnant with God’. This book of creation was understood by Bonaventure to be a book of divine wisdom, made visible to all.”

The contemplation of God’s goodness that is daily expressed through creation is perhaps the most powerful impetus to prayer—prayer of the heart, of praise and thanksgiving. Everyone familiar with Franciscan spirituality knows the exquisite Canticle of Creation that was written by Saint Francis of Assisi who, in mystical exhilaration, inebriated by the love of God, extolled poetically the wonders of God’s handiwork.

As I reflected recently on his Canticle, I was moved by its power to reveal the ubiquitous fingerprint of God on every inch of our natural surroundings, and wrote, as a result, this adaptation.

A Song of Seasons
Inspired by The Canticle of Creation by Saint Francis of Assisi

Most High, all powerful, good Lord,
yours are the praises, the glory, the honor, and all blessing.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong.
Be praised, my Lord, by all the Seasons.

Praised be you, my Lord, by lovely Spring,
especially by Brother Sun.
You give new life through him,
and he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praised be you, my Lord, by Sister Water,
running energetically from melting white mountains,
which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be you, my Lord,
by fiddleheads and buds,
Chicks and tadpoles and cubs,
by furred and feathered pilgrims
entering the eternal sanctuary of sacred communion.

Praised be you, my Lord,
by Easter chants and childish laughter,
on muddy paths along scented trees.
Yours is the riddle and lyric of praise.

Praised be you, my Lord,
by every living thing
pregnant with potential,
which is filled with your Spirit.

Praised be you, my Lord, for lively Summer,
by flowers of every shape and shade,
which brings perfect joy
to the hearts of my sisters and brothers.

Praised be you, my Lord, by Earth,
that sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits and vegetables and herbs,
which make us strong for the journey ahead.

Praised be you, my Lord,
by monarchs that rest on velvet petals,
sovereign in enchanted gardens
filled with celebration.

Praised be you, my Lord,
by the breath of every living thing,
hopping, galloping, soaring, swimming,
transcending civil virtues
to a realm of holy meaning.

Praised be you, my Lord, by artful Autumn,
by Sister Harvest Moon
and the stars, in heaven you formed them
clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be you, my Lord,
by forests ablaze
with crimson and gold;
enveloping birds and mammals
with broad loving wings.

Praised by you, my Lord,
by hope hoarding
nutritious berries and seeds,
trusting the stingless dawn,
with resurrected faith in Love.

Praised be you, my Lord, by wonder-filled Winter,
by Brother Northern Wind,
and by the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which
you give power to your creatures.

Praised be you, my Lord,
by glass-covered lakes,
giving rest to sleepy life.
Their stillness mirrors your peace.

Praised be you, my Lord,
by billowing dunes of snow,
shimmering with delight,
holding tenderly in their protective womb
warrants of transformation.

Blessed are those whom Sister Winter will
holds in the most holy hope,
for new life shall embrace them warmly.

Praise and bless, my Lord,
and give him thanks
and serve him with great humility.

Contemplative prayer allows us to enter, to varying degrees, the mystery of God manifest in the universe that he created as self-effusing love. Like the apostles who accompanied Jesus to Mount Tabor, it reveals to our consciousness a glimpse into the splendour of Love and Truth, but, again like in the case of the Transfiguration as well as the Epiphany, the experience is not the end of a journey but it inevitably leads to a mission—a return to daily life by another road. (Cf. X, y)

Nothing divine dies. All good is eternally reproductive. The beauty of Nature re-forms itself in the mind, and not for barren contemplation, but for new creation.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

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May the Lord bless you with peace as you feel his embrace. May his joy be yours as you marvel at the work of his hand. May his love gush from his sacred heart to yours.

Richard Boileau

Crib and Cross
Franciscan Ministries