Febuary 14, 1993
Brother John Raymond
One aspect of St. Francis of Assisi's relationship with nature
was the supernatural insight he had when looking at it. All creation
is in some way a reflection of God and His attributes. The saints,
by a special gift of the Holy Spirit, saw in the animals, plants,
water, stars, etc. lessons about God. Our Lord Himself referred to
the lilies of the field and the birds of the air as an example of
His Father's providential care for each one of us. (Matthew 6:26-32
Also, the saints had a great sense
of thanksgiving for all creation
because they saw God's great love for us reflected in it. This
special insight into God's creation which St. Fancis had is shown in
his famous inspiration called the "Canticle of Brother Sun."
The composition of this Canticle came about in the following way:
during the summer of 1225, St. Francis was living in a hut in San
Damiano, Italy. He was suffering very much from an eye ailment which
practically blinded him. His sufferings grew so intense that he
prayed, "Lord, come and help me, that I may patiently endure my
sickness." Immediately St. Francis heard God answer him deep within
his soul. "Tell me, Brother, wouldn't you be very happy if, in
exchange for the pain you now suffer, you were given a treasure
compared to which the whole earth would have no value?" St. Francis
responded with a "Yes." The voice continued, "Well then, Francis,
rejoice and sing. Sing while you are there, weak and sick, for you
are earning nothing less than the kingdom of heaven." The next day
St. Francis recounted the incident to the brothers who were taking
care of him. He was filled with thanksgiving for God's goodness to
him. So he told his brothers he wished to compose a new hymn of
praise to God for His creation which we use every day and which
keeps us alive. The final stanza about Sister Death was added to the
Canticle by St. Francis a year later when told by the doctor that he
was going to die.
The Canticle of Brother Sun
Most High Almighty Good Lord, Yours are praise, glory, honor and
all blessings; To You alone! Most High, do they belong, and no man
is worthy of speaking Your Name!
Be praised, Lord, with all Your creatures, and above all our
Brother Sun, who gives us the day by which You light our way, and
who is beautiful, radiant and with his great splendor is a symbol to
us of You, O Most High!
And be praised, Lord, for our Sister Moon and the Stars. You
created them in the heavens bright, precious and beautiful!
And be praised, Lord, for our Brother the Wind and for the air
and the clouds and for fair weather and for all other through which
You sustain Your creatures.
And be praised, Lord, for our Sister Water, so useful, and
humble, and chaste!
And be praised, my Lord, for our Brother Fire, through whom You
light up the night and who is handsome, joyful, robust, and strong!
And be praised, my Lord, for our Sister, Mother Earth, who
supports and carries us and produces the diverse fruits and colorful
flowers and trees!
Praise and bless the Lord and give thanks to Him and serve Him
with great humility!
Be praised, my Lord, for our Sister, bodily Death from whom no
living man can escape!
Woe only to those who die in mortal sin; but blessed are those
who have done Your most holy will; for the second death can cause
them no harm!