Prayer Inspired by the Our Father

by Francis of Assisi

English version by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM CAP & Ignatius C. Brady, OFM
Original Language Italian

O OUR most holy FATHER,
Our Creator, Redeemer, Consoler, and Savior

WHO ARE IN HEAVEN:
In the angels and in the saints,
Enlightening them to love, because You, Lord, are light
Inflaming them to love, because You, Lord, are love
Dwelling in them and filling them with happiness,
     because You, Lord, are the Supreme Good,
          the Eternal Good
     from Whom comes all good
     without Whom there is no good.

HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME:
May our knowledge of You become ever clearer
That we may know the breadth of Your blessings
     the length of Your promises
     the height of Your majesty
     the depths of Your judgments

YOUR KINGDOM COME:
So that You may rule in us through Your grace
and enable us to come to Your kingdom
     where there is an unclouded vision of You
          a perfect love of You
          a blessed companionship with You
          an eternal enjoyment of You

YOUR WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN:
That we may love you with our whole heart by always thinking of You
          with our whole soul by always desiring You
          with our whole mind by directing all our
               intentions to You and by seeking Your
               glory in everything
          and with our whole strength by spending all our
               energies and affections
               of soul and body
               in the service of Your love
               and of nothing else
and may we love our neighbors as ourselves
     by drawing them all with our whole strength to Your love
     by rejoicing in the good fortunes of others as well as our own
     and by sympathizing with the misfortunes of others
     and by giving offense to no one

GIVE US THIS DAY:
in memory and understanding and reverence
     of the love which our Lord Jesus Christ had for us
     and of those things which He said and did and suffered for us
OUR DAILY BREAD
Your own Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ

AND FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES:
Through Your ineffable mercy
through the power of the Passion of Your Beloved Son
     together with the merits and intercession of the Blessed Virgin
               Mary and all Your chosen ones

AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US:
And whatever we do not forgive perfectly,
do you, Lord, enable us to forgive to the full
so that we may truly love our enemies
and fervently intercede for them before You
returning no one evil for evil
and striving to help everyone in You

AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION
Hidden or obvious
Sudden or persistent

BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL
Past, present and to come.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

-- from Francis and Clare: The Complete Works: The Classics of Western Spirituality, Translated by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM CAP / Translated by Ignatius C. Brady, OFM

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

I know many of you will instinctively react against this selection's tone. It might have too much of a Sunday school savor for your taste.

I personally find this beautiful and fascinating. It is a line-by-line meditation of The Lord's Prayer, that most central prayer of Christianity. But this isn't just one more devotional Christian poem; this is by St. Francis of Assisi! This poem gives us a unique window into his inner life of prayer. When this greatly beloved saint said his "Our Father" prayer, this is what each line meant to him. This is what he wanted everyone to understand through reciting that essential prayer of the Christian world.

A figure like Francis transcends Christian tradition. His simplicity, his radical commitment to love, his connection to nature, even his sense of humor have made him one of the most loved spiritual figures throughout the world. So let's set aside the more overtly Christian references, if they make you uncomfortable. What is he revealing here that perhaps you've never found in the lines of The Lord's Prayer before?

A few observations of my own:

HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME:
May our knowledge of You become ever clearer


To Francis, "hallowing" the name of God is not some pious formula of respect. To him, it is about cultivating deep, intimate knowledge of God. It is personal. It is about clarity and transformation within the individual's own awareness.

YOUR KINGDOM COME...

YOUR WILL BE DONE...


These days, unfortunately, it's difficult not to read these lines through the clouded filter of hardline Christian literalists, who understand them as a divine mandate for theocracy and might. But notice how Francis reads these lines. He keeps mentioning love. The kingdom he sees is one of love for God, divine vision, nearness to God, and blissful delight:

where there is an unclouded vision of You
          a perfect love of You
          a blessed companionship with You
          an eternal enjoyment of You


And, to Francis, the Divine Will is fulfilled, not through force, but again -- through love. This is the mystic's passionate, burning love that consumes all else:

...by spending all our
               energies and affections
               of soul and body
               in the service of Your love
               and of nothing else


But, for Francis, this isn't an exclusive, esoteric sort of love that cuts one off from the rest of the world. In seeing the Divine everywhere, in everyone, our love for God must expand in all directions, find a home in every person and in all things. He recalls to us that oft quoted and sadly underapplied injunction by Christ to love our neighbor as ourselves:

and may we love our neighbors as ourselves
     by drawing them all with our whole strength to Your love
     by rejoicing in the good fortunes of others as well as our own
     and by sympathizing with the misfortunes of others
     and by giving offense to no one


In Francis's vision, the Kingdom is one of love, community, compassion, service.

We are given a challenge -- to participate, but with a humble, open heart.

AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US:
And whatever we do not forgive perfectly,
do you, Lord, enable us to forgive to the full
so that we may truly love our enemies
and fervently intercede for them before You
returning no one evil for evil
and striving to help everyone in You


Forget the centuries worth of theology and dusty debate. Whether you seek comfort and help from the Virgin Mary or Kuan Yin or Durga, whether you seek light and guidance from Christ or the Prophet Muhammad, Shiva or the Boddhisattvas; the Eternal encompasses every name that is called, every rite followed... and is not wounded by another's choice.

In this Kingdom, the key that grants entrance is not what sectarians think it is. This Kingdom is not for Christians, but for the Christ-like, regardless of religious tradition. The price of citizenship is not adherence to a creed, but possession of a love so all-consuming that no hatred can remain, no tally sheet can be kept, no person and no being is left outside the circle of your heart.



Recommended Books: Francis of Assisi

Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey Francis and Clare: The Complete Works: The Classics of Western Spirituality For Lovers of God Everywhere: Poems of the Christian Mystics All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West
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