Franciscan Sister Anne Marie Lom shares her thoughts about an ‘Advent Ponderings’ retreat day that she led recently for her Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity on Francis’ and Clare’s devotion to Mary, Mother of Jesus.
During the Advent season, I wanted to explore, with our Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, several Marian prayers. I wondered about Saint Francis and Saint Clare’s devotion to Mary. The research began and thoughts finally crystallized into three sessions for our Advent Ponderings:
- Francis’ Praises of Mary and Salutation to Mary
- The Angelus
- The Magnificat.
Francis’ love for the humanity of Christ affected and heightened his devotion to Mary. Without Mary, he reasoned, there would be no God-man. While Francis was seen as a “footprint” of Jesus, Clare became known as a “footprint” of Mary. Marian devotion and subsequently Marian art, poetry and music were highly influenced by Franciscan friars preaching and teaching in the late 1200s and beyond. The friars preached, enacted dramas and prayed in the “mother tongue” of their audiences.
St. Bonaventure and other Franciscans promoted the Angelus. They wanted the common people to sense God’s closeness and desire for intimacy with people. The friars brought the “hours of prayer” out of the monasteries by encouraging people to pause throughout the day to pray Hail Marys and recount Mary’s willingness to cooperate with God’s plan.
The Magnificat, prayed daily by all who pray the Liturgy of Hours, compels us to look at how God raises up the lowly. The poor are exalted while the mighty are brought low. This praise of poverty of spirit and littleness were core to Francis’ vision of God’s great reversal: the almighty God became a little baby. The great God “bent low”, so to speak, to come close to us. Some term this the “humility of God”.
What stirs within you during this Advent season? What captures your imagination? What connects to your heart’s desire for intimacy with God?