Click here for Pensamiento Franciscano – la Muerte, the Spanish language version of this article.
Death is something that many of us have a difficult time even thinking about. As our loved ones get older, we come face to face with sickness or tragedies occur. The thought of having to face death head on is a difficult one to embrace or hold up to a higher light. Many people fear it so much it becomes a burden that seems just too unbearable to understand. Yet as Catholics, we all know that death is not the end of our lives. This is where we can reach for our faith and be reminded of how St. Francis faced his own death – by praising Sister Bodily Death.
When Francis of Assisi became ill and disabled and was slowly approaching death, he turned to God. His faith and the presence of the Lord gave him the vision of what we know as one of the many Franciscan Values – to see God in everything including death. He was inspired to write the Canticle of Creation, a prayer praising God for all the blessings that He has bestowed upon us. The prayer shows us that even in the eyes of death, St. Francis considered the wondrousness of the Lord and all of his creations. That we should show everything and everyone respect and that we are all deserving of love.
Perhaps when we are faced with death in our own lives; for our loved ones, and eventually for ourselves, we can be reminded of St. Francis and how he handled his own death, facing it head on and embracing it knowing that it was not an end but a new beginning. That She (death) is necessary to complete our lives, according to the will of God. That it is okay to mourn the death of our loved ones, because in mourning those who have died, we are celebrating their lives which will be reunited again with our Father in heaven.
The Canticle of Creation
O Most High, all-powerful, good Lord God,
to you belong praise, glory, honour and all blessing.
Be praised, my Lord, for all your creation
and especially for our Brother Sun,
who brings us the day and the light;
he is strong and shines magnificently.
O Lord, we think of you when we look at him.
Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Moon,
and for the stars which you have set shining and lovely
in the heavens.
Be praised, my Lord, for our Brothers Wind and Air
and every kind of weather by which you, Lord,
uphold life in all your creatures.
Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Water,
who is very useful to us, and humble and precious and pure.
Be praised, my Lord, for Brother Fire,
through whom you give us light in the darkness:
he is bright and lively and strong.
Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Earth, our Mother,
who nourishes us and sustains us, bringing forth
fruits and vegetables of many kinds
and flowers of many colours.
Be praised, my Lord, for those who forgive for love of you;
and for those who bear sickness and weakness
in peace and patience – you will grant them a crown.
Be praised, my Lord, for our Sister Death, whom we must all face.
I praise and bless you, Lord, and I give thanks to you,
and I will serve you in all humility.
— St. Francis of Assisi
The Pastoral Council helps the Pastor foster an environment in our beautifully diverse Parish in which all are welcomed, the Gospel of Christ is lived through the lens of our shared Franciscan spirituality, and stewardship is practiced. Through planning, prayer, and discernment, the Pastoral Council endeavors to support the many good works of our parish ministries. Our Franciscan Thoughts are written by members of the Pastoral Council to deepen our understanding of what it means to live as members of a Franciscan parish. Questions? Comments? Please feel free to contact Yvonne Hanzen, Council President, at firstname.lastname@example.org