St. Francis Novena – Day 9
St. Francis Novena | Day Nine: Death
BR. CHRIS MEYER, OFM
From the earliest days of the order, Franciscans gather on the evening of October 3 to remember the passing of our founder, St. Francis of Assisi. It is an evening of music, prayer, and recalling the saint who loved fully and lived humbly.
The evening is often referred to as the Transitus of Francis. The word transitus means “passing” or “crossing over.” The service specifically remembers Francis at his holiest moment—the moment in which he met his God.
Famed biographer Thomas of Celano writes that with his companions gathered around him, Francis spent his final days lovingly teaching and admonishing them. And with the final verse added, his “Canticle of Creatures” was sung by all the brothers gathered.
“Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape….”
Francis was a man of hope and trust in the Lord; he did not fear death. Reading from the many sources of his life, there are numerous examples of seeking death. With the finest arms, he rode off to war twice. He experienced death early in his conversion when he lived and worked with the lepers in the valley below Assisi. He sought a martyr’s death by traveling to convert Saracens during the crusades. Today, we often see Francis pictured with a skull at his feet or in his hand. For Francis, death was not the end nor something to be feared, but a returning to or turning over one’s soul to its Love.
Francis admonishes us; we too should not fear death. “Because God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. For he fashioned all things that they might have being, and the creatures of the world are wholesome” (Wisdom 1:13-14).
Reading again his “Canticle of Creatures,” we, like the sun, earth, and wind, are created by God and are brought into existence for God. St. Paul writes in his letter to the Colossians, “All things were created through him and for him” (1 Col 16). If God is the source of my life and the source of your life, then the fullness of my life can only be found in you and in all that is in this world, because the fullness of God is expressed in humanity and all of creation.
For a hopeful Francis, laying on the ground naked, praising and embracing Sister Death, this was a man at the culmination of years of trials, prayer, and a life spent longing to be intimately united with Jesus. In Francis’ final gift of poverty, he returned his mortal body to dust what was dust and to God what was God’s. And as Paul wrote to Titus, “And thus, we have hope. And hope brings us to Eternal Life” (Titus 1:2).
Let Us Pray
Loving God, you sent St. Francis as a beacon of your love. Inspire and give us the courage to become beacons today.
(Br. Chris Meyer, OFM, is the Liaison for the Council to Sponsored Ministries for the Province of St. John the Baptist.)
Pray the Novena to Francis of Assisi
Read by Fr. Murray Bodo, OFM
“At last, when all of God’s mysteries were fulfilled in him, the blessed man fell asleep in the Lord. One of his brothers and disciples saw his soul under the appearance of a radiant star being carried aloft in a shining cloud over many waters on a direct path into heaven,” writes St. Bonaventure in his Life of St. Francis. Post your prayer intentions to St. Francis 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.)
Almighty Father, through the kind intercession of St. Francis, we humbly ask for the grace to be free of the fears and anxieties that beset us.
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.
Fr. Murray Bodo, OFM, is a writer and poet. Continue learning about St. Francis in his book, The Way of St. Francis, available at Franciscan Media.
Videos and articles on St. Francis at Franciscan Media.
We follow Jesus in the footsteps of St. Francis, learn more at Franciscan.org