Prayer for All Times

In the old Little Breviary from 1856, with an interesting but long-term title: Tertiary Little Breviary in which, apart from the Rule, its explanations and religious prayers, there is found a special prayer service for the Brothers and Sisters of the Penitential Franciscan Order of the Holy Seraphic Father Saint Francis, who remains under the supervision of the Capuchins. It was prepared thanks to the efforts of the pious members of the Third Order and published by one of the Franciscan priests of the Polish Province of Capuchins (Fr. Beniamin Szymanski), there is a beautiful prayer in Latin and Polish, entitled “Prayer for All Times.”

It also appears in other books and prayer books from the second half of the nineteenth century, sometimes under the name “Prayers before the Blessed Sacrament”, “Penitential Prayers” or even “Prayers for God’s Mercy”. One of its older versions begins with the invocation:

Look down, O Lord, from Your sanctuary and from the high heavens abode, and see this Holy Sacrifice which Our Great Priest, Your Holy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, offers to you for the sins of his brothers; and let yourself be appeased over a multitude of our transgressions. Behold the voice the blood of Jesus our Brother cries to You from the Cross. Give ear, O Lord, be appeased, O Lord, see, and do this: for Your own sake, look upon us, O God, as we invoke your name upon our city and upon Your people; and deal with us according to Your infinite mercy.

For the Felician Sisters this prayer is very special. It is very special, because it have been recited every day almost from the beginning of the existence of the Congregation which was founded in 1855, to this day. Both in the Generalate of the Congregation, five provincial houses, where, after an early Mass, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for the entire day, as well as in the local houses which on four continents are more than 170, the sisters raise their hands in imploring and supplication asking: Look down, O Lord …

This prayer is a reflection of one of the main goals of the Felician Congregation ? the practice and spreading the idea of atonement. In the Memoirs of the Congregation, which contains the indications of the first Constitution of the Felician Congregation written by Blessed Father Honorat Kozminski, one can find following words:

… the Sisters contribute to the task of spiritual reform of society by prayer, word, and example – especially by example; that is, by becoming living images of Christian principles.

Lest the Sisters become arrogant and vain because of their sublime destiny, let them, first of all, strive for transformation of their own hearts and then attempt the conversion of their neighbour. This conversion ought to be preceded by atonement and by offering satisfaction to God for the insults against His majesty.  Their primary task shall be atonement to God for the negligence and irreverence with which some religious participate in the Sacred Mysteries and liturgical services. The sisters shall strive, therefore, as far as it is humanly possible, for an interior disposition of continual adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, for a faithful and diligent praying of the Divine Office, for an ardent spirit during meditation, and for observing a proper decorum in the Presence of the Lord at all times. (…) And they will always have it in mind whether it is during adoration, whether at the sickbed or struggling with children, or bearing scarcity or humiliation and contempt from people, that they are called to repair the glory of God, that is why they should do and offer everything in this spirit.

Raising outstretched arms before the Blessed Sacrament, each Felician unites herself with Christ crucified in His work of redemption. This is clearly expressed by the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

(1368) The Eucharist is also the sacrifice of the Church. the Church which is the Body of Christ participates in the offering of her Head. With him, she herself is offered whole and entire. She unites herself to his intercession with the Father for all men. In the Eucharist the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of his Body. the lives of the faithful, their praise, sufferings, prayer, and work, are united with those of Christ and with his total offering, and so acquire a new value. Christ’s sacrifice present on the altar makes it possible for all generations of Christians to be united with his offering.

In the catacombs the Church is often represented as a woman in prayer, arms outstretched in the praying position. Like Christ who stretched out his arms on the cross, through him, with him, and in him, she offers herself and intercedes for all men.

(1370) To the offering of Christ are united not only the members still here on earth, but also those already in the glory of heaven. In communion with and commemorating the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, the Church offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. In the Eucharist the Church is as it were at the foot of the cross with Mary, united with the offering and intercession of Christ.

Let us pray together:

Look down, Holy Father and Lord, from your sanctuary and from heaven and behold this Sacred Victim, which our great High Priest, Jesus, your Son, offers to you for the sins of his people. Be appeased for the multitude of our transgressions. Behold the voice of Jesus, our brother, cries to you from the cross. Give ear, O Lord, hear us and do not delay. For your own sake, look upon us, O God, as we invoke your name upon our house, upon this city, and upon your people. Deal with us according to your mercy. Amen.

V. Bring us to a heartfelt penance.
R. Hear us, O Lord.

V. Defend and protect us, this house, this city, and all your people; preserve us in your service and receive us in your mercy.
R. Hear us, O Lord.

V. Through the holy mystery of our redemption.
R. Have mercy on us.

V. Through the merits and intercession of your most Blessed Mother and of all the angels and saints.
R. Have mercy on us.

V. Holy Mary, conceived without original sin, and all the angels and saints, intercede for us with God.
R. That he may have mercy on us, his people, and that we may rejoice with him forever. Amen.

Almighty and merciful God, may your most holy will be always done in all things according to your mercy, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.