Saint Francis of Assisi was an Italian monk who founded the monastic order of the Franciscans. He was from a wealthy family and spent most of his youth carousing the streets of Assisi with other young nobles. After fighting in the war between Assisi and Perugia, he contracted an illness and had his first mystical experience. After he was healed, Francis had another mystical experience while praying in a neglected church: “After a period of prayer and meditation, Francis heard the voice of Jesus coming from a nearby crucifix: ‘Francis go, repair my house, which, as you see, is falling completely to ruin’.” It was this call that inspired Francis to leave Assisi, determined to live more simply with his fellow monks.
Even though many of his writings and sermons did not last, The Canticle of Brother Sun has survived the many centuries and is now looked at as one of Francis’ greatest writings. The Canticle is a poem which talks of the different aspects of nature, such as earth, wind, and water, and praises God for creating them. The Canticle also contains many parallels to the gospels. After his experience in the church, Francis was inspired by the life of Jesus. As G. K. Chesterton says, “Francis of Assisi was a mirror of Christ”. Francis saw great promise in the life that Jesus lived in the gospels and tried to be an example of Him through his own work. The poem reveals many of Francis’ own teachings of chastity, poverty, and obedience along with the call to respect nature.
One of the values Francis instilled the most in his monks was obedience to God. In his life, Francis was devoted to serve God and gave God complete control over his life. Part of this trust that Francis had was that God would provide for him in same way that He did with the disciples when Jesus sent them out. As it says in the gospel of Mark, “He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two… He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money, in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics”. This faith is also apparent in Francis’ life when he gave up his comfortable home for a simple life of poverty. Francis’ devotion to the Father is seen in the Canticle because in the text, he constantly refers to God as “good Lord” or “Most High” and capitalizes all the pronouns referring to God (“You” and “Him”). Also, the whole Canticle praises God through the help He gives to creation. For example, the first stanza says, “Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor, and all blessing”. This praise is very similar to the praise and thanks that Jesus gives in all of his teachings. For example, in the gospel of Matthew when Jesus says, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth”.
Humility was also a very important teaching for Francis. As Talbot says, “Francis has a keen understanding of the power and danger of human pride, and he condemned it as spiritual enemy number one”. Francis was so aware of the...