You Are All Sweetness, My Lord
"One of the early Franciscan texts, written to remember St. Francis, is 'The Legend of the Three Companions.' These companions of Francis were three of his earliest friends: Brother Angelo, Brother Leo, and Brother Rufino. They knew Francis best because they spent the most time with him -- but also because they shared his concerns. To read 'The Legend of the Three Companions' today is to get the sense that the four men shared the same heart. This is confirmed by pilgrims who visit the famous Basilica in Assisi today, who, upon entering the lower level crypt where the saint is buried, discover that Angelo, Leo, and Rufino are buried in the same place. You'll see nameplates for them there under the high altar.
"Of the three companions, we know most about Leo. From many stories, it seems that Leo was Francis's closest friend, frequent confidant, and walking companion. And Leo is the only one to whom Francis wrote a personal letter. Francis did so because Leo asked for a piece of writing when he was facing some serious temptation to sin. To put this in today's terms: Leo turned to Francis for spiritual advice and encouragement -- something like what we would today find in a spirituality book.
"Earlier editors made it standard practice to call this text 'Praises of God.' Francis of course didn't title it, and I've given it a title more in keeping with Francis's message to Leo.
"God, you are holy. You are the only One.
Your wonderful deeds are all around us.
"You are strong. You are great.
You are the crown, the Most High, the almighty sovereign.
You are, holy Father, ruler of the heavens and the earth.
You are Three Persons and you are One.
You are the Lord God of all there is.
"And You are so good!
You are every good! You are the highest good!
"You are alive, my Lord.
You are living and faithful.
You are love, wisdom, and meekness.
You are long-suffering, comforting, and shalom.
You are my joy.
You are my happiness.
You are my strength.
You are justice.
You are the Source of whatever I need.
You are beauty.
You are strength.
You are our only needed protection.
You will defend us from harm.
You will be our courage.
In You, we find safe-keeping.
In You, we are faithful.
In You, we find eternal life.
God almighty, merciful Savior, Amen.
"According to Thomas of Celano, 'Francis wrote on the parchment the encouragement that Leo required, and handing it to him, said, "Now keep this with you all the days of your life." ' "