Franciscan Devotions

The Franciscan Crown (Seraphic Rosary)

The Franciscan Crown consists of seven decades commemorating the "Seven Joys" of the Virgin Mary.

The traditional five decade Rosary is a meditation upon the life of Christ, as seen through the eyes of His mother. However, the "Seven Joys" is a devotion that recalls seven joyful episodes of motherhood in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The practice originated among the Franciscans in early 15th-century Italy. The Joys resemble the 12th-century Gaudes, or Latin praises asking Mary to rejoice in the several ways that God has favored her.

Franciscan historian, Father Luke Wadding (1588-1657), gave the origin of the Crown as the year 1422. During that year, a young Franciscan novice (traditionally given the name James) received a vision of the Blessed Virgin in Assisi. As a child, he had a daily custom of offering a crown of roses in honor of the Virgin. When he entered the Friars Minor, he became distressed that he would no longer be able to offer this gift. The Blessed Virgin appeared to him to give him comfort and to show him another daily offering to please her. This of course, was the meditation upon the "Seven Joys" that she had experienced in her life. One day the Director of Novices saw Friar James praying this devotion with an angel who was wearing a crown of roses and golden lilies. When the novice had finished praying, the angel placed the crown upon him. The Director asked Friar James what this vision meant. After hearing the explanation, he told the other friars and soon this devotion spread throughout the Franciscan family.

Saying The Crown

Sign of the Cross

Mysteries of the Seven Joys of the Virgin Mary - After each mystery, pray one Our Father and ten Hail Marys.

It is customary, after the seventh mystery, to pray two Hail Marys to bring the total number to seventy-two in honor of the tradition that the Virgin lived for seventy-two years on earth.

Prayer for the Pope
Catholics customarily pray an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be for the intentions of the Pope.

Sign of the Cross

Meditations & Reflections on the Crown

Joy of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-36)

Joy of the Visitation (Luke 1:39-56)

Joy of the Nativity (Luke 2:1-20)

Joy of the Adoration of the Magi (Matthew 2:1-12)

Joy of Finding Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:41-52)

Joy of the Resurrection (Mark 16:1-8)

Joy of the Assumption and Coronation (John 11:17-27,Revelation 21:1-6)

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The Beatitudes

'...Brothers, the Lord called me by the way of simplicity and humbleness, and this is the way He has pointed out to me for myself and for those who will believe and follow me... The Lord told me that He would have me poor and foolish in this world and that He willed not to lead us by any way other than that.'

`St. Francis of Assisi

Secular Franciscans pledge themselves to live in the spirit of the Beatitudes and, in a special way, the spirit of poverty. Far more than 'happiness' or 'joy', the word 'blessed' in these teachings has been defined as an 'exclamation of the inner joy and peace that comes with being right with God'. Each of the beatitudes consists of two phrases: the condition and the result. Together, the beatitudes present a new set of ideals that focus on love and humility rather than force and exaction. They echo the highest ideals of Jesus' teachings on spirituality and compassion.

Reflections on the Beatitudes

'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.' (Matthew 5:3)

Blessed meaning joyful in the highest degree and pleasing to God; poor in spirit meaning humble, those who are conscious of their imperfections and unworthiness before God, and never think that they are better or more holy than others.

Spiritual lowliness is the conviction that our entire life and all our spiritual and physical blessings, such as life, health, strength, spiritual ability, knowledge, riches, and every good thing of life, all this is the gift of our Creator God. Without help from Heaven, it is impossible to acquire either material well-being or spiritual riches. All this is the gift of God.

Spiritual lowliness is called humility. Humility is the foundation of Christian virtue, because it is the opposite of pride, and pride introduced all evil into the world. Due to pride the first among the angels became the Devil; the first people sinned, their descendants quarreled and went to war among themselves from pride. The first sin was pride (Sirach, or Ecclesiasticus 10:15).

Without humility it is impossible to return to God. Nor are any of the other Christian virtues possible. Humility permits us to know ourselves, correctly to assess our worth and deficiencies. It acts beneficially in the fulfillment of our obligations to our neighbor, arouses and strengthens in us faith in God, hope and love for Him. It attracts the mercy of God to us and also disposes people well towards us.

'Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.' (Matthew 5:4)

The weeping about which the second beatitude speaks is first of all true tribulation of heart, and repentant tears for our sins, weeping over our guilt before the merciful God (for example, the tears of the Apostle Peter after his renunciation).

Tribulation and tears coming from misfortunes which befall us can be spiritually beneficial. For example, the death of one of our close ones can result in beneficial tears, if the sorrow is permeated by faith and hope, patience and devotion to the will of God. Jesus Christ Himself wept over the death of Lazarus.

Even more so can tears and tribulation lead to blessedness when they are shed over the suffering of our unfortunate neighbor, if these sincere tears are accompanied by Christian deeds of love and mercy.

Worldly grief is grief without hope in God. It proceeds not from acknowledgment of one's sins before God, but rather from disappointment in ambition, aspiration to power, desire for gain. Such sadness, characterized by despondency and despair, leads to spiritual death, which can also result in physical death, by suicide or simply weakness due to lack of will to live. An example of such grief is that of Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Christ the Saviour.

'Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. ' (Matthew 5:5)

Meekness is peaceful, fully developed Christian love, free from all malice. It is manifested in the spirit of a man who never becomes angry, and never permits himself to grumble against God or people.

Meek people do not become irritated and they do not vex or aggravate other people. Christian meekness expresses itself mainly in patient endurance of insults inflicted by others and is the opposite of anger, malice, self-exaltation and vengeance.

A meek person always regrets the hardness of heart of the offending party. He desires his correction, prays to God for forgiveness of his deeds, remembering the precept of the Apostle: If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord (Romans 12:18-19).

The best example of meekness given to us is that of our Lord Jesus praying on the cross for His enemies. He taught us to not take vengeance on our enemies but to do good to them. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls (Matt. 11:29). Meekness tames even the hardest hearts. We can be convinced of this by observing the lives of people, and we find confirmation of it throughout the history of Christian persecutions.

A Christian may become angry only with himself, at his own fall into sin, and at the tempter � the Devil.

'Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. ' (Matthew 5:6)

Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are those people who deeply acknowledge their sinfulness, their guilt before God, and have a burning desire for righteousness. They try to serve God by a righteous life according to the commandments of Christ, which requires from Christians the most holy righteousness in all their relations with their neighbors.

The expression "hunger and thirst" indicates that our yearning for righteousness must be very strong, as strong as our desire to appease our appetite and thirst. King David beautifully expressed such yearning, As the hart panteth after the fountains of water, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsted for God, the mighty the living (Ps. 41:1-2).

God promised that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled. By this is meant spiritual satisfaction, comprised of internal spiritual peace, a calm conscience, justification, and forgiveness. Such satisfaction in the present, earthly life occurs only in part. The Lord reveals the mysteries of His kingdom to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, more than to others. Their hearts in this world are delighted with knowledge revealed in the divine truths of the Gospel.

'Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. ' (Matthew 5:7)

The merciful are those who have compassion for others, who with all their hearts pity those who have fallen into misfortune or unhappiness, and who try to help them with good works.

To the merciful, God promises in return that they will receive mercy. In the future judgment of Christ they will be shown the special mercy for the righteous. They will be delivered from eternal punishment for their sins to the degree to which they showed mercy to others on earth (See Matt: 25:31-46).

Works of mercy are both physical and spiritual.

Physical Works of Mercy

Spiritual Works of Mercy

'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. ' (Matthew 5:8)

The pure in heart are those people who not only do not sin openly, but do not conceal unclean thoughts, desires and feelings in their hearts. The hearts of such people are free from attachment and infatuation with physical, earthly things. In general they are free from passions caused by self-centeredness, egotism and pride. People with pure hearts unceasingly think about God.

In order to acquire a pure heart, it is necessary to observe the fasts proclaimed by the Church, and to guard oneself against gluttony, drunkenness, depraved spectacles and amusements, improper teachings and indecent books.

Purity of heart is far superior to simple sincerity. Sincerity requires only that a person be candid and single hearted in relation to his neighbor. But purity of heart requires complete suppression of depraved thoughts and constant remembrance of God and His holy commandments.

To the pure in heart God promises that they will see God. Here on earth they will see Him through Grace, mysteriously, with the spiritual eyes of their hearts. They can see God in His revelations, images and likenesses. In the future, eternal life, they will see God as He is (1 John 3:2). Furthermore, since contemplation of God is a source of the highest blessing, the promise to see God is a promise of the highest degree of blessedness.

'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9) '

Peacemakers are people living with everyone in peace and harmony and fostering peace among people. When other people are at enmity among themselves they try to reconcile them, or at least pray to God for their reconciliation.

Peacemakers remember the words of the Saviour, 'Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you.' (John 14:27) 'If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.' said the Apostle Paul. (Romans 12:18)

To the peacemakers the Lord promises that they will be called sons of God. They will be the closest to God, heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ. The peacemakers by their spiritual feat resemble the Only-begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, Who came to earth to reconcile sinful people with Divine judgment and to establish peace among people in place of the animosity reigning among them. Therefore to the peacemakers is promised the epithet, 'sons of God,' and inexpressible blessedness.

' Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. ' (Matthew 5:10-12)

For righteousness' sake, is meant to live righteously according to the commandments of God, and resolutely fulfilling Christian obligations. Persecuted � for their righteous and pious life, they suffer oppression, persecution, privation and adversity at the hands of the unrighteous enemies of truth and goodness, but nothing can cause them to waver from the truth.

Persecution is inevitable for Christians living according to the Gospel�s righteousness, because evil people detest righteousness, as truth exposes their evil deeds, and always persecute people who stand for the truth. The Only-begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, was Himself crucified by haters of God's truth. For all His followers He predicted: If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you (John 15:20). All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution, says the Apostle Paul (2 Tim. 3:12).

In order to endure persecution patiently for righteousness' sake, a person must have love for the truth, be steadfast and firm in virtuous living, have courage and patience, and faith and hope in the help and protection of God.

To those persecuted for righteousness' sake, for their struggles in confessing the truth, the Lord promises the Kingdom of Heaven, spiritual triumph, joy and blessedness in the heavenly dwellings of the future eternal life (see Luke 22:28-30).

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The Peace Prayer of St. Francis

The Peace Prayer of St. Francis is a famous prayer which first appeared around the year 1915 A.D., and which embodies the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi's simplicity and poverty.

According to Father Kajetan Esser, OFM, the author of the critical edition of St. Francis's Writings, the Peace Prayer of St. Francis is most certainly not one of the writings of St. Francis.

The prayer first appeared during World War I. It was found written on the observe of a holy card of St. Francis, which was found in a Normal Almanac.

The prayer bore no name; but in the English speaking world, on account of this holy card, it came to be called the Peace Prayer of St. Francis.

Lord make me an instrument of your peace

Where there is hatred,

Let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is error, truth;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, Joy.

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, Joy.

And where there is sadness, Joy.

O Divine Master,

Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled,

As to console;

To be understood,as to understand;

To be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

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