So begins St. Francisí immortal poem in praise of creation.
Down through the centuries and in many translations from the
ancient Umbrian dialect in which it was first prayed, the CANTICLE
OF THE CREATURES, or the CANTICLE
OF BROTHER SUN, as it is sometimes called, marks a high point on the
Little Poor Manís pilgrimage of prayer.
The CANTICLE proclaims
the overflowing wonder which filled the heart of St. Francis, the
exultation of his spirit before the beauty of creation.
With the eyes of faith, he saw every creature rendering to the
Creator glory and praise both in its being and through its
being. The CANTICLE is a hymn of glory, an outburst of spiritual joy.
It is a mystical flight in song of a man who was poor enough to
own the universe and rich enough to reverence it in every smallest
But the CANTICLE OF THE CREATURES teaches us another valuable lesson about
prayer. It was composed not
in the full bloom of health or in the fervor of first conversion, but
less than two years before the death of St. Francis as he lay seriously
ill in a little hut on the grounds of the monastery of San Damiano. His
blinded eyes could no longer bear to look upon the brightness of Brother
Sun. His stigmatized feet
could no longer step firmly upon Sister Earth.
His love-wounded heart was burdened with suffering as he bore
within it the weight of sin and the ingratitude of humanity.
And yet, in the midst of his pain there flowered song, for the
heart of Francis was right with God the Father, conformed to God the Son
and flooded with the love of God the Holy Spirit which impelled him to
invite all creation to
and bless the Lord and give thanks to Him
serve Him with great humility.