During the more than a
quarter of a century that we have been bringing pilgrims to Assisi, we have
often wondered why literally millions of people travel to this seemingly
insignificant city in central Italy. Most people are aware of Saint Francis
and some of Saint Clare, and perhaps that their tombs are located within
Assisi’s ancient city walls. But more important than just a visit to their
burial sanctuaries, we have consistently seen pilgrims become excited when
they are exposed to the spirituality of these two saints who had a burning
love for God, for Jesus Christ. Their spirituality—what we today call
Franciscan spirituality—is predominantly an affective spirituality, a
spirituality of the heart, a spirituality that is primarily experiential.
And the idea came to us to share some kernels of their affective
spirituality from their actual writings, composing mantras in the hope that
rhythmic, repetitive singing would enable each one of us to experience the
burning love they had for God, for Jesus Christ. For this reason, we have
chosen to present several texts in their original languages of composition:
Latin, Italian, and Umbrian dialect, the language of Francis and Clare. Both
of them have left a significant collection of writings from which this
compilation of mantras has emerged. These mantras were composed to celebrate
the wisdom of their spirituality.
These beautiful mantras taken from the words of
Saints Francis and Clare are designed for:
- personal, individual prayer leading one to contemplation;
community groups, prayer groups, retreats, and to enhance communal prayer;
- public liturgy where hymns and responsorial antiphons are used.
The repetitive nature of each mantra facilitates communal singing. The
mantras even lighten ordinary housework and driving through heavy traffic!
“Gospel realities can penetrate you through
sung over and over again: ‘Jesus, your light is
shining within us; let my heart always welcome
you work, when you rest, these realities
keep echoing within you. Sometimes prayer is an
inner struggle, and sometimes it means
whole being. At a given moment, it becomes
simply resting in God in silence. That is perhaps
of the high
points of prayer.”
Brother Roger of Taizé
Twenty-six mantras taken directly from the
writings of Saints Francis and Clare on two CDs, background information on
Francis and Clare,
and a 16 page booklet explaining each chant.
Music by Josef Raischl, SFO,
Konrad Raischl and David Dargie.
Translations and comments by
Sr. Frances Teresa Downing, OSC,
Murray Bodo, OFM