Aug 22, 2012

Franciscan Four-Fold Prayer.

St. Clare of Assisi's second letter to Blessed Agnes of Prague in 1235 lays the framework for a Franciscan prayer life. Specifically, the four-fold pattern of prayer, which is a valuable source for ongoing formation: "Look upon Him who became contemptible for you, and follow Him, making yourself contemptible in the world for Him. Your spouse, though more beautiful than the children of men (Ps 44:3) became, for your salvation, the lowest of men, despised, struck, scourged untold times throughout His whole body, and then died amid the sufferings of the Cross. O most noble Queen(Agnes), gaze upon {Him}, consider {Him}, contemplate {Him}, as you desire to imitate {Him}."

Clare's Four-Fold Prayer Pattern:
Gaze or visualize scripture and consider or imagine your physical presence in the text, contemplate or empty yourself in silent prayer of everything but the Spirit of Christ. That means forget about your desires. At this point, experience God's desires, not what He wills, but what He wants. To accomplish this, examine the Incarnation, which is not solely about Jesus' birth but His whole human historical experience. He wants to share everything, even His existence. Remember, prayer for Clare and all Franciscans is a family affair. God, you, and all of creation both listen and speak. You are in relationship with all of creation, therefore respect for all creatures is part of imitation.  Realize that God's self emptying through the poor and humble Jesus leads you to emptying your own desires and radically imitating Him. You will want the same life as God. The Creator of the universe becomes little, impoverished, respectful, and humble just to make what separates you from Him, heal. Then, to complete His sharing with you, He becomes present in the humblest of means, bread and wine. Clare's love of the Eucharist is legendary. Now you know how she got to that love. Set aside a little time each day to gaze, consider, contemplate, and imitate what God desires and I guarantee your desires will fall into place. Here's to all of you and a deeper Franciscan prayer life. JMJ. Mick, OFS