Method 3 : Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
Thomas of Celano (1 Cel. 45), the first biographer of St. Francis, records that some of the brothers begged him to teach them how to pray. He urged them to pray the "Our Father" and the following prayer:
"We adore You, Lord Jesus Christ,
in all Your churches throughout the whole world
and we bless You
because by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world"
It is a prayer that was very dear to his heart. He tells us in his Testament, which was written near the end of his life, that the Lord gave him such faith in churches that he would, with simplicity, pray this prayer; because of the presence within them of the Blessed Sacrament. We are told by his biographer, that Francis burned with a love that came from his whole being for the sacrament of the Lordís Body, and he was carried away with wonder at the love that was shown to humanity there. It was also because of his great love for the Eucharist, that he had great reverence for priests.
He was in great awe of the Lord for giving Himself to us in this way. In his First Admonition (i.e. the instructions which he gave his followers), he says: "Every day he humbles himself just as he did when he came from his heavenly throne into the Virginís womb; every day he comes to us and lets us see him in abjection, when he descends from the bosom of the Father into the hands of the priest at the altar. He shows himself to us in this sacred bread just as he once appeared to his apostles in real flesh. With their own eyes they saw only his flesh, but they believed that he was God, because they contemplated him with the eyes of the spirit. We, too, with our eyes, see only bread and wine, but we must see further and firmly believe that this is his most holy Body and Blood, living and true."
This shows the faith he had in the Holy Eucharist. The practice of Exposition of the Eucharist for Adoration, had not begun in the time of Francis - it was actually a later development. However, it is quite clear that Francis had the spirit of this powerful type of prayer, in that he bowed down in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in churches, where it was reserved. And indeed, when his biographer tells us that Francis gave his followers this prayer, he goes on to say, that following his example, they bowed down, inwardly and outwardly whenever they saw a church (even in the distance), not to mention when they actually entered churches.
It was from his frequent reception of the Eucharist, that he received all his strength to live his life of love, and he imitated what he received, offering himself up in union with the Lord. It is from the Eucharist that we too receive the strength and nourishment that we need for our daily living in faith. We are blessed that, in our times, the practice of Eucharistic Adoration has become much more widespread. To spend some quiet time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, forming a personal relationship with the living Lord, is a wonderful way to imbibe His peaceful presence, and is a great antidote to the stressful lives that so many of us live nowadays. It is not necessary that the Blessed Sacrament be exposed for veneration - the Lord is truly sacramentally present in the tabernacle in His churches and this beautiful prayer can help us come into contact with Him. And indeed, many of the other prayer forms that we have suggested are very appropriate for prayer in Churches, in company with the Lord of life.