The Prayer Before the Crucifix

by Francis of Assisi

English version by Ivan M. Granger
Original Language Italian

Most high,
glorious God,
let your light fill the shadows of my heart
and grant me, Lord,
true faith,
certain hope,
perfect love,
awareness and knowing,
that I may fulfill Your holy will.

-- from Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey, by Ivan M. Granger

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

I really like this prayer from St. Francis. In it's supreme humility the only thing it asks for is self-transformation, to wholly become the embodiment of divine will. It's almost an affront to the daily mind to allow such a selfless prayer to emerge from the heart. And it's precisely through that rebellion that we recognize the sacred core of life.

This poem is called "The Prayer Before the Crucifix," and notice that this poem is itself constructed in the form of a crucifix. We can find even deeper significance in the word positioning within that crucifix--

The top, the "head" of the cross acknowledges God above all else: "Most high, / glorious God."

The arms of the cross, the part where the heart rests, invites light into the heart: "let your light fill the shadows of my heart."

The rising length of the cross lists the necessary spiritual qualities that must be built one upon the other to enlighten the heart: "true faith, / certain hope, / perfect love, / awareness and knowing."

Finally, the base, the foundation upon which this entire spiritual structure stands is the Divine will and the individual soul's desire to embody it: "that I may fulfill Your holy will."

Here the crucifix becomes a spiritual tower within the soul.



Recommended Books: Francis of Assisi

Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey Francis and Clare: The Complete Works: The Classics of Western Spirituality For Lovers of God Everywhere: Poems of the Christian Mystics All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West
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The Prayer Before