Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Charleen Acker reflects on Franciscan prayer and what it means to her. Ilia Delio’s book ‘Franciscan Prayer’ is a basis for this Lenten reflection.
As a novice we were taught different methods of prayer and meditation. I vividly remember thinking “none of these fit me.” God didn’t seem to fit into the structure and neither did my spiritual life. After reading this book I gained some insights into why they didn’t fit. Franciscan prayer is not about going to God but realizing more and more that God has “come to us.” According to the author we move toward God because God has first moved toward us. Prayer in this tradition, then, is incarnational-centered on the person of Jesus Christ.
This helped me see why Francis and Clare had such a love of the crucified Christ. In that image they saw God’s ultimate coming to us and through their profession of poverty they wanted to rid themselves of anything that would keep them away from their single-hearted desire for God.
Because God not only came to us, but is still very much with us, Francis saw the world as his cloister. It was permeated with the goodness of God-from his brother and sister creatures, to his brother friar, and even his brother lepers. All of them drew him deeper into the mystery of Christ and out of himself. Wounded, fragile and weak they became his community.
Clare describes the image of the crucified as a “mirror”. We are to see ourselves in that mirror and become transformed by what we see. Then we can reflect God’s image to the world through our self-giving and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. ‘This is my body, this is my blood”-not with words but through the example of our lives.
What does Franciscan prayer mean to you?