Jun 11, 2015

"Canticle of the Sun," St. Francis, and Laudato Sii

This beautiful prayer composed by St. Francis of Assisi towards the end of his life is in praise of God's wondrous creation and his operation within and through it.  How we are indeed "brothers and sisters" with all that God has created. 

Unlike the popular, "prayer of St. Francis," (Lord, make me an instrument of your peace . . .) which may not have been composed by the legendary Saint, this one indeed was dictated by him.  It is not meant to be an environmentalists prayer so much as it is a prayer which displays the presence of God in all that he has made.  It is beautiful and certainly a prayer for the summer time as we see the rebirth of new life. 

The opening line, "Praised be" or "Be praised" is the English translation of Pope Francis' title for his upcoming Encyclical: Laudato Sii. His connection with St. Francis' words should give us a clue to the Holy Father's intent:

The Canticle of the Sun

by Francis of Assisi

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing. To you, alone, Most High, do they belong. No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which you give your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten the night. He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you; through those who endure sickness and trial. Happy those who endure in peace, for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whose embrace no living person can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your most holy will. The second death can do no harm to them.

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

(translated by Bill Barrett from the Umbrian text of the Assisi codex.)