Simplicity is a hallmark of Franciscan living and spirituality, and during my pilgrimage to Assisi, I became aware of the prayer—and perhaps the act—that illustrates that most clearly for me.
The Stigmata was a mystical experience I never fully understood until our leader, Father John Quigley, OFM, described it more or less this way: When you have a beloved friend, you’re able to share your deepest pain with him. You can open up about anything because of the love and trust between you. That’s how Jesus felt about Francis. Thus, our Savior shared his deepest human pain with the little man who loved and understood him so well.
Francis was overjoyed at receiving the Stigmata and being truly able to comprehend the infinite love Christ had in his heart. That love led to compassion for Francis’ own cherished friend, Brother Leo.
Brother Leo was depressed, and Francis wrote for him a short, simple prayer that expresses something truly beautiful.
It might be brief, but could any words convey a wish more caring and profound?
May the Lord bless you and keep you;
May he show his face to you and be merciful to you.
May he turn his countenance to you and give you his peace.
May the Lord bless you, Brother Leo.
Today, think about your closest friends and what you have shared with them over the years. Consider offering them the prayer to Brother Leo or sharing with them some other sign of your love and appreciation.
Time is short. Never miss an opportunity.