Birthing The Franciscan Prayer Book!
This past summer a long-awaited, long-anticipated event finally happened. We received our new prayer book--Franciscan Morning and Evening Prayer.
The project actually began back in 2002 under the auspices of the Franciscan Federation. A coure group represented primarily by members of Third Order Regular Franciscan congregations met in Chicago to begin planning. I was thrilled to be one of those sisters representing our congregation. We divided into committees, some working on the four-week psalter (those days that are ot specific feast days.) Others worked on the feast days of specific saints, especially Franciscan saints. It's amazing how many there are! A third group worked on music and a fourth on art.
I was part of the second group working on feast days. In addition to the actual feast days of specific saints, we also developed a number of "Commons"--prayers that can be used for a number of feasts such as the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the Common of the Apostles. In addition to the usual "Commons," we also now have one to accommodate each of the ghree groups within the Franciscan Family. As a result, we have First Order, Second Order, and Third Order Commons, as well as one for founders and foundresses.
The four-week psalter uses a thematic approach based on four these close to all Franciscan hearts: conversion of heart, poverty, contemplation, and minority.
Another aspect that makes this prayer book so special to us is its use of Franciscan sources, particularly in the antiphons and the closing blessings. The readings are also an added sourc of Franciscan sources. Each morning and evening prayer provides two readings, one from scripture and one from Franciscan sources.
Two other really special features of the book are the art and the music. While the latter uses both traditional and currently popular hymns, many are hymns written by members of various Franciscan congregations. Similarly, the art work that appears throughout the book is done by members of our various congregations.
It seemed as though the final product was a long, long time coming but now that it's a reality, it was worth the wait. Perhaps it's like the birthing process. There was indeed pain--and groaning--and labor--but our Franciscan Morning and Evening Prayer, once birthed, has brought joy to many a Franciscan heart!