Thursday, February 24, 2011

St. Francis and the Divine Office

When people think of St. Francis of Assisi, they typically do not think of the sacred liturgy. This is not because Francis was aliturgical or anti-liturgical of course, simply that this particular aspect of the saint's life has not penetrated into the popular piety which surrounds him. (That said, today if St. Francis is mentioned in relation to the sacred liturgy, it will likely be to defend or promote some kind of liturgical minimalism -- and one particularly popular film about his life could even leave some with the impression that he was a precursor to 20th century liturgical progressivism, but I digress.)

We have spoken of this co-opting of Francis just under a year ago, where his concern for beauty was noted by contrast. Recently, another quote came to my attention, this time commenting upon him in relation to the praying of the Divine Office.

In this as in all things Francis gave the most splendid example. He chanted the psalms with such interior recollection as if he beheld God present. Although he suffered from illness of his eyes, his stomach, his kidneys and his liver, he would not lean on anything while reciting the Office, but prayed in an upright position, with his hood thrown back, never allowing his eyes to wander, or interrupting in any way. If he happened to be on a journey, he would make a stop; if in the saddle, he would dismount. Even when the rain poured down upon him he would not depart from this custom.

Hilarin Felder, The Ideals of Saint Francis of Assisi, p. 402

Obviously this particular quotation comes from a modern author, rather than being a direct quotation from contemporary sources, but it is interesting nonetheless, giving us another lens in which to consider this saint.

Perhaps some of our Franciscan readers could give some of the source material that the above author may be this drawing from.

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