One of my favourite prayers that I say daily is the Prayer of St. Francis, which is also known as ‘the peace prayer’. Francis was born into a life of privilege as his parents were quite well off. Thus as a youngster, St. Francis had a life, perhaps similar to a lot of our youth today. He was known as a drinker and a lover of parties. Then a few events changed his outlook on life. After fighting in a battle between Assisi and Perugia, Francis was captured and imprisoned. He spent nearly a year in prison and, according to legend, began to question his way of life. After his release from prison, Francis felt a ‘calling’ to change. He set out to repair a Church in his area that had been damaged. At this time, he also decided to try to live a life of poverty. Consequently, he abandoned his life of luxury and became a devotee of the faith, his reputation spreading all over the Christian world. He was later canonized as a saint. During his life he also developed a deep love of nature and animals and is known as ‘THE PATRON SAINT OF THE ENVIRONMENT’; his life and words have had a lasting resonance with millions of followers across the globe.
I’ve taken the liberty to comment on the first half of this prayer.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: –Jean Vanier once said that it is difficult to be a Vietnam War protester, when you have your own little Vietnam at home. Peace, starts in our homes, and in our community of Oshawa.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;-I have found that often the people, who are most hateful, actually have never been shown love themselves. It was sometimes difficult to love all my students when I was teaching, yet that was what the most needy required.
Where there is injury, pardon;-our society seems to be bent on retaliation. We hear about ‘road rage’ and even ourselves want to get back to someone who has cut us off in traffic, or has annoyed us in some way.
Where there is doubt, faith; –when I got less than stellar report cards from my own 4 sons, I never doubted that they would do well in life. The education system, as it is set out in Ontario, is not for every child and is only one small measure of a person’s worth.
Where there is despair, hope;-I can get pessimistic about things in our society today: the increased violence in our neighbourhoods, the climate change deniers, and the racism that raises its ugly head every so often. The Americans I know are great people, and Trump, as annoying as he can be, does not represent the vast majority of Americans. I do have faith in the goodness of mankind.
Where there is darkness, light; –There is a lady I run into every so often that has a fantastic smile that can light up the room. Yet every so often she seems to give in to self-pity and that wonderful smile goes into hiding. I need to tell her how much her smile is felt by her friends.
Where there is sadness, joy. –Last year I lost both a younger brother and my dad. I miss them both and think about them often. However, you might think strangely I never shed a tear over either of their deaths, because I know they are in Heaven, and their last times on earth were wrought with emotional and physical pain.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.