Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Second Sunday in Lent: Prayer of St. Francis

“Then Jesus began to teach his disciples that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly.” – Mark 8:31-32b

As I understand it, the Prayer of St. Francis, as popular as it is, was not actually written by St. Francis and doesn’t appear in record before 1900; it’s possible that a dedication was misunderstood as attribution, but the original author is unidentified. That being said, it’s a beautiful prayer with a very clear message: turn yourself and your energies not inward, but outward.

This perks me up hugely when I’m depressed. I get in my head, I become too introspective, I think that I’m useless and there’s nothing I can do. But that’s not true... there’s nothing I can do for myself sometimes, but there’s always something I can do for someone else. I can give a compliment to a stranger, make a friend a meal, do a favor for my parents. I can clean my apartment, pet my cat, and post funny pictures on my friends’ Facebook walls. Anything that makes someone else feel loved is a worthwhile endeavor, a worthwhile use of my time and energies.

The prayer also has one of the most useful and healing messages a prayer can have. The message is not, “God, do this to make my life better,” but, “God, please make me a better person, so that I can make the world a better place.”

Sarah McLachlan’s version is beautiful, and has the added bonus that it shows up in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (such a good show...) in a moment of redemption on the show. It’s ethereal and contemplative, and the impact of the final phrase, “It’s in dying that we are born to eternal life,” is beautifully realized by the emphasis she places on “born.” The message is clear: it is within our power, and as Christians it is our responsibility, to take what is wrong in the world and turn it right. With love!

Learn more about this daily Lenten devotional, created by Episcopal Young Adults of Western Washington.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you wrote about this. If I had remembered this track, I would have had a hard time deciding. This is such a beautiful recording.