Prayer Life

The spirit of prayer and devotion is the most important form, among various forms, with which our relationship of love with the Father is expressed.  The life of prayer, like love, is not something that is done, but something that is lived with one's whole being.  Our prayer life as Franciscans is witnessed communally, individually, and in the creative balance between the "contemplative" and "active" life. 

Communal Prayer 

Liturgy of the Hours 
St. Francis of Assisi, with one or more brothers, celebrated the Liturgy of the Hours each day. Today the friars still gather for morning and evening prayer.  We join our prayers with the daily prayer of the Church, sanctifying the day and evening hours with prayer. 

Daily Mass 
Whenever possible, St. Francis of Assisi and his brothers would attend the celebration of the Eucharist.  If he could not participate in the Eucharist, Francis had at least the Gospel of the Mass read to him.  The friars still gather daily for the celebration of the Eucharist with our parish communities, and once a week as a friar community.

Individual Prayer  

St. Francis of Assisi and the brothers made time for what we would call "private prayer."  He would frequently pray alone during the night, and out of humility he would fool the brothers into thinking he was going to sleep, only to get up very quietly to pray without waking them.  Francis also spent time in extended periods of solitude and prayer by himself.   

Today the friars are encouraged and exhorted to carry out prolonged experiences of contemplation in our hermitages, taking advantage of the moratorium to deepen our experience of God.  We are encouraged to honor the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Lord and our Mother, with special reverence and to participate in traditional devotions, such as the Stations of the Cross and Eucharistic adoration, which trace their roots back to St. Francis and the Franciscan order.

Finding Balance in Contemplation and Action  

St. Francis of Assisi experienced a tension within himself about the direction of God's calling, a creative tension between his desire for a life of contemplation and a life of preaching.  This is encapsulated in the story of his asking Brother Sylvester and Lady Clare to pray that he might know which way to choose: the "contemplative" or the "active" life.  The answer from both was the more difficult challenge: to continue in active ministry, even with his strong inner desire to live a more contemplative form of life.  Today the friars still hold this creative tension within ourselves and seek to maintain a balance of contemplation and ministry.