(photo: Palm Sunday at St. Francis Convent, Green Bay)
No matter his responsibilities or time commitments, St. Francis of Assisi made prayer a priority
by Sister Laura Zelten
Our lives are so easily fragmented these days between responsibilities to friends, family, neighbors, and the larger human family that we may think we don’t have the time or energy for prayer, especially as we continue to celebrate the sacred mysteries through social distancing. That was the experience of St. Francis of Assisi up until his mid-20s. Then he discovered that prayer was more real than many of the things he had considered more important.
Only in prayer were his knightly ambitions turned in a new direction; only in prayer did he find the strength to lead the people who wanted to follow him. Prayer enabled him to discover the link between the Church that Jesus established and the Church that needed conversion to Jesus' ways.
During these days of Holy Week I like to pray the scriptures of each day. They spring from every part of our emotional spectrum and lead us to the same point: gratitude for God’s generosity and a desire to imitate it as much as we can here and now. Francis prayed these same scripture passages, and those who followed him quickly did so, too. His followers learned the scriptures and prayed them as they walked from place to place, reflecting on what God had accomplished through them in their previous location and preparing for what God might ask of them in the next place.
Prayer enabled St. Francis of Assisi to see the connections in what otherwise could have been a very fragmented life: preacher, healer, leader of friars, spiritual guide for many lay people, and advisor to popes and bishops. Rather than ask how he could find time and energy to pray, Francis asked himself, “How could I not pray?”
These days give us much to reflect upon in prayer. For Franciscans, we realize that we do not “go to God” but rather God has come to us in the Incarnation. During Holy Week, God comes to us through the events of his suffering, death and resurrection and we again hear the words “do this in memory me." Please know our prayers are with you as we unite, from a distance, to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus.