Sunday, 31 August 2008

Recently, I've been reading some of the writings of S. Francis and S. Clare and among the many good letters, prayers and rules for monastic life, what struck me most was the simplicity of S. Francis' prayer before the crucifix:

Most high
Glorious God
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me, Lord,
a correct faith,
a certain hope,
a perfect charity,
sense and knowledge,
so that I may carry out
Your holy and true command.

The tradition is that S Francis used to pray this at the foot of the crucifix in the church at San Damiano and one day, Our Lord spoke to him saying "go and repair my house, which as you see, is falling completely into ruin". This command guided the rest of his life. This simple version of the prayer was transmitted through various Italian idioms before becoming more widely known through translation into Latin. A manuscript in the Bodleian Library (cod. Can. Misc. 525) contains the Latin translation and a note that this will enable others to benefit.

In the past weeks, I've often prayed this in front of the crucifix on my wall at home, in church, and sometimes after communion. At the moment, when God's will for the Church of England seems so hard to discern, and for those who are attempting to stop it all from falling into ruins, it seems particularly appropriate.

The translation is taken from Armstong and Brady (1982): Francis and Clare, The Complete Works.

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