St. Francis Novena – Day 1
St. Francis Novena | Day One: The Incarnation
BY FR. JEFF SCHEELER, OFM
Christianity is the only religion which proclaims that God became a human being. This is unique and central to Christian understanding. St. Francis was fascinated by what we have come to call the Incarnation.
As we pray in the Angelus: “The word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The Creator became a creature in Jesus of Nazareth. Wow!
St. Francis understood this as an act of humility and was particularly awed by the thought that God was so humble. Moved by a great love, God was willing to do this for us. God was willing to “let go,” or as St. Paul said in Philippians, not cling to his divinity, but emptied himself, becoming one with us, even unto sharing death. For Francis, that takes humility. Ponder that for a moment! When Francis understood what God was doing in Jesus, he wanted to do the same thing. So he started to live a life of humility, simplicity, of not clinging, not possessing—a life of poverty. He gave away his possessions, even the fine clothes he was wearing. He wanted to be poor and humble, just as God was poor and humble in giving us Jesus.
St. Francis also saw this dynamic manifested in the birth of Jesus—being born in a poor and humble stable. In order to show others the humility of God, he dramatized the Nativity with what became our tradition of Christmas crèches, but he wanted us to notice the simplicity. Francis saw the humility of God in the Eucharist and was awed that Jesus was willing to “hide” under the form of bread. He saw it clearly in the cross, where Jesus gave his life for us.
Franciscans have a little memory aid to help us remember these core experiences, which illustrates the humility of the Incarnation: “Crib, Cross, Chalice.” Because of the Incarnation, the whole created world has been made holy. It is good, a gift to be cared for. We don’t cling to things, but to God’s word. We don’t possess things or make them our own. We receive them gratefully, use them, and share them with the poor. But they are not ours.
Francis’ life paints a living picture of what was going on in God when he gave us Jesus. God did not “hold back anything of himself but gave himself totally” to us in Jesus. Francis gives us a dynamic to live by. We, too, strive to not hold onto anything of ourselves, but give ourselves away in love. So how do I look upon my possessions? Are they just mine or are they gifts to share? Can I let go and trust in the goodness of God?
Let Us Pray
Gracious God: Thank you for Francis and his great insight into you. May he teach us how to imitate your divine process of letting go to show your total love for us. May we hold our possessions lightly and share them gratefully.
(Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM, is the pastor of Church of the Transfiguration in Southfield, Michigan.)
Pray the Novena to St. Francis
Read by Fr. Murray Bodo, OFM
St. Francis is a powerful intercessor, you can post your prayer intentions to him on our Prayer page.
The Novena to St. Francis of Assisi
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Poor and humble Saint Francis, through your kind intercession we seek to love God above all things. We seek the faith, hope and love that moved you to joyfully renounce honors and riches and to radically follow our Lord Jesus Christ.
Pray for us that we come to see the privilege of suffering with and for the poor after the example of Jesus. Help us to be always grateful for all the blessings we have received and give us the strength to overcome our most pressing concerns.
(Include your personal intentions now.)
St. Francis, as you left a comfortable life to lead a life of poverty and service to others, we ask you to pray that we also realize the folly of seeking to amass material wealth and gain power and control over others less fortunate than we are. Today I humbly give something that I don’t really need to the poor as an offering to God our Father, hoping this act signals a start of my conversion.
St. Francis, help us to continue praying for the grace to truly repent and change our hearts by actively seeking reconciliation with God and all those we have offended or hurt in any way. May the blessings we receive through your intercession deepen our faith, and inspire us to store up treasures in Heaven, where we hope to spend eternity with our loving God.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen
St. Francis of Assisi, Pray for us!
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
Post your prayer requests on our Prayer Page.
Light a candle or give alms on our Donation Page.
Videos and articles on St. Francis at Franciscan Media.
We follow Jesus in the footsteps of St. Francis, learn more at Franciscan.org