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Hope is Now: The Prayers of St. Francis

Reflections from Our Pastors

   Monday was the Feast day of St. Francis of Assisi – meaning, for Roman Catholics, that it wasn’t his birthday but his “heavenly birthday,” the day he died. We could expend many words on the beauty and wonder of his life (as I did in my little book, Conversations with St. Francis!) – but to reflect on his prayers, the few that have come down to us, is inspiring, challenging and constructive.

For years, as a young man, trying to discern what God wanted from him, he knelt before a crucifix more than once every day and prayed, “Most high, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart, and give me, Lord, correct faith, firm hope, perfect charity, wisdom and perception, that I may do what is truly your most holy will.” Notice he doesn’t ask for favors or help – that is, until we realize the one favor he wanted from God, the only help he sought, was that God would shine into his heart, fill him with love and wisdom, and enable him to do God’s will.

Another regular prayer of his: Almighty, eternal, just and merciful God, grant to us the grace to do for you what we know you want us to do. Give us always to desire what pleases you.” Do we know what God wants us to do? We can learn, over time – if it is our genuine, constant desire to please God. We’ll need some grace, some power, considerable divine assistance, to get there.

And finally, these prayers are possible, and answerable, if we reflect on another very brief prayer Francis uttered, murmured, whispered, and simply thought most of the day, every day: “My God, my all.” We hear that and wonder, And…? But that’s it. My God, my all.

And this prayer, this pondering, is enough, more than enough. If God is our all – not a little part of things, or our spiritual side, our religious moods or spasmodic churchy action – then doing God’s will, loving perfectly, pleasing God, and doing what God wants us to do: all these become second nature. What will I do this evening? How much money will I give to the church? Can I find time to pray or read the Bible? How will I respond to a difficult person? Can I volunteer time for a noble Church cause? My God, my all. There’s your answer, your guiding light, your compass holding you to true north.

Take a few moments to pray these 3 prayers bequeathed to us by Francis. Let the third one linger for a while, the rest of the day, all weekend – and the rest of your life.

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