Saint Francis of Assisi lived the liturgical seasons intensely and Lent was a fundamental part of his spiritual journey. St Francis celebrated several Lents during the year: the first was what we normally live in the whole Church, the second is a Lent prior to Advent in preparation for Christmas. These latter ones, Francis asked his Order to be celebrated in a compulsory way (cf. RegB III, 6).
Personally, he observed three more Lents, one called Lent of the Epiphany or “Benedetta” (RegNB III, 11; LM IX, 2); where he sought to make a bridge between the time of Christmas and that of Easter, since for him they represent the two sides of a single mystery of salvation.
Another Lent that St Francis observed was in honour of Saints Peter and Paul; focusing on communion with the Church, which began on the feast day of Saint Peter and Saint Paul (June 29) and ended on the day of the Assumption of Mary (August 15).
A final lent was in honour of the Archangel Saint Michael, to whom he had a special devotion, and which went from the day of the Assumption (August 15) to the feast of the Archangel Saint Michael (September 29).
Saint Francis’ practice of observing several Lents meant that he spent at least two hundred days of the year in solitude, prayer and mortification. Therefore, he spent more time in contemplation and penance than in action and apostolate. His practices teach us that the spiritual life is linked to our will, since celebrating Lent is an opportunity for conversion, a time of Grace on how to pause, assume a generous discipline, and make room to pray and build our relationship with God.
Let us constantly ask so that, just as we are and from our reality and vocation. May God grant us some of that hunger that Francis had to reach such state of communion with God.
“We adore you, Lord Jesus Christ, also in all your churches throughout the world and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.” (Test 5)