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Welcome, Sister Death
By
Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, March 17, 2013

One of Saint Francis’ best-known works is his “Canticle of Brother Sun.” Most people think of it as a celebration of the glories of God as seen in the created world—sun, moon, wind, water, fire and earth. And in fact, it does praise God through all of those things. But the close of the canticle reminds us yet again that all of creation is finite and only the Creator is infinite. Francis writes:

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death, From whose embrace no mortal can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those She finds doing your will! The second death can do no harm to them.

Scholars tell us that Francis added these words shortly before his own death, after Brother Leo and Brother Angelo had sung the Canticle at his request. Thomas of Celano, Francis’ first biographer, tells us that the saint’s last words were, “Welcome, my Sister Death.” Lent is a good time to pray that we, too, will come to such faith that we can welcome even death as a loving sister.


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