Tag: Assisi

Canticle of the Sun (6) – Sister Mother Earth

The COVID-19 pandemic, terrible in its human cost, has also strangely brought healing the earth, enabling some areas to recover ever so slightly from pollution and human damage. Skies have been clearer, wild animals have been venturing into human towns and villages, and pollution levels have dropped.

Francis of Assisi, who wrote the words we now now know as “The Canticle of the Sun”, worked with people suffering from leprosy, another terrible and contagious human disease. He had to struggle with an initial disgust at the physical state that some people were in, but, as the story goes, he found it in himself to kiss a leper that he had first walked away from one day. “What was bitter”, he said, “became sweet”.

His Canticle of the Sun, which I have been re-posting recently, celebrates the beauty and wonder of the Earth.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth, who sustains us and governs us and who produces varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.

Image by Steve Bidmead from Pixabay

Canticle of the Sun (5) – Brother Fire

Francis alternates “brother” and “sister” in his wonderful poem – a revolutionary sense of the equality of male and female from the 13th century!

He has praised Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother Wind, Sister Water, and now his praise leaps up for Brother Fire:

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

There is something beautiful and playful about Francis’ whole canticle of praise, which makes it also “robust and strong” – a poem of praise we can return to again and again for inspiration, and through which we can sing praise to the God of the wonderful world Francis celebrates.

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Image by Val Rimang from Pixabay

Canticle of the Sun (4) – Sister Water

The poet Philip Larkin wrote

If I were called in

To construct a religion

I should make use of water

We have seen in previous posts about ‘The Canticle of the Sun’ that St. Francis of Assisi’s praise begins with “heavenly” things – the sun, the moon and the stars – before moving on to the wind and the weather. And today his praise is through water.

We could not live without water. Without water is no life.

It is a beautiful reminder that every moment of our lives we depend on the sun’s heat, the air we breathe, and the water that both makes up so much of our body, and is also our means of survival:

“Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.”

Image by adriankirby from Pixabay

Canticle of the Sun (3) – Brother Wind

We have seen in the first two posts of this series how St. Francis praises God, the sun and the moon.

Next he turns to the weather

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which
You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Image by 💛 Passt gut auf euch auf und bleibt gesund! 💛 from Pixabay

Canticle of the Sun (2) – Sister Moon and the Stars

IThe first post in the series focused on St. Francis of Assisi’s lines about “Brother Son”. Now it is the turn of the moon:

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,

in heaven you formed them clear and precious and beautiful.

As I write, comet Neowise is visible and is a marvel to behold. Many today live in light-polluted towns and cities and do not get to see the beauty of clear night skies, and to gaze back through time and towards infinity.

Francis did not know about modern astronomy, and yet in his wisdom he did know the humble attitude of reverence and awe in a universe not of our making.

He did know a reverence and awe before God.

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Canticle of the Sun (1) – Brother Sun

St. Francis’ great poem of praise may have been inspired at least partly a Psalm:

“Praise him, sun and moon;
    praise him, all you shining stars.

from Psalm 148

His “Canticle of the Sun” is so rich that I post it a few lines at a time so that we can appreciate its depths. Here are the first few lines:

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Canticle of the Sun

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Most High, all powerful, good Lord,

Yours are the praises, the glory, the honour, and all blessing.

To You alone, Most High, do they belong,

and no man is worthy to mention Your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,

especially through my lord Brother Sun,

who brings the day;

and you give light through him.

And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendour!

Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Francis’ spirituality is poetic and creative, in tune with the natural world that we all have around us. He calls the sun “brother”. It is as if the whole of creation has become family – the cosmic family of “you, Most High”.

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Sister Mother Earth

Theme 4 of “30 Days Spiritually Wild” I have dedicated to the earth, seas and plant life. I think St. Francs would approve of the project of the UK Wildlife Trusts to connect people with nature, although he would also have wanted them to look beyond the natural world to the supernatural …

The Canticle of the Sun, written by St. Francis of Assisi, is all about the beauty and wonder of the Earth, as this short extract shows:

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth, who sustains us and governs us and who produces varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.


You might like to meditate on this short outburst of praise by repeating it several times, pausing for silence between repetitions, looking out of window at “sister mother earth”, and praying…

Image by Steve Bidmead from Pixabay

Praise for the Sky in the Canticle of the Sun

This is from “The Canticle of the Sun”, a beautiful poem celebrating the spirituality of the natural world, by St. Francis of Assisi:

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which
You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Image by 💛 Passt gut auf euch auf und bleibt gesund! 💛 from Pixabay