Wednesday, April 10, 2013



St. Henry Church Nashville, TN

The Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
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.

A short, familiar prayer from a beloved and well-loved Saint: Francis of Assisi.

Recently, St. Francis of Assisi has made a great come-back of sorts in the modern world in which we live.  The election to the papacy of Cardinal Jorge Borgoglio has brought to light once again the remarkable life of St. Francis.

To me, the Prayer of St. Francis encapsulates the life of virtue and holiness in a few, short, masterful stanzas.  It is masterful in its homily of the soul totally forgetful of self.  It's a hymn of a soul who has died in Christ. It's a song of one who has been resurrected and become a new creation in Christ. It is the anthem of the Blessed in Heaven.

Do you know anyone who possesses such lofty and heroic virtue?  Do you know someone who walks the earth as though they did not exist?  These saintly souls walk among us with one foot already in heaven.  We only need to recall the life of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. Her entire life was an open book of the Gospel.  She was totally transformed in Christ and gave witness to a life of virtue: a living icon of the Beatitudes.

We may declare, "Oh, yes," I know someone who is like this. But we must be careful in our discernment. Just as the church takes a long and in-depth study of a soul before they proclaim sainthood. We can make hasty judgments and put people on pedestals because they are nice or easy to get along with. But the true test of virtue comes with just that, testing.  The virtues are fashioned and made perfect through the Cross. Saintly souls have had the love of God born in their heart and they are willing to lay down their life for God and the conversion of their neighbor.

We have to be careful that we do not paint St. Francis in a light of sweet and romantic devotion, a serene and happy person who loved birds and the sky and nature.  He's not just a champion for the environment. We must see him in the depth of his excruciating and painful love of God, born of a mystical union between him and Christ that we will never comprehend. A mystical love and union that is born from the Cross.

He always lived upon the Cross, never seeking to avoid fatigue or trouble, concerned only in fulfilling the will of God in and through himself.

The brothers  who lived with him know how at every instant the name of Jesus was on his lips; and with what tender love and sweetness he conversed with him.
First Life of St. Francis by Thomas of Celano

How do we live out the beatitudes in our daily life?  How do we become a channel of peace?  It takes great courage and humility.  The saints make it look easy!  It is born from hard work of dying to our ego.  Virtue is born from prayer as St. Teresa of Jesus teaches us.  In practical terms being a channel of peace may be described in a person who:


This person listens with the heart to another.  They are not just "waiting" for the opportunity to speak when the other person is finished. This person may not have anything to say. They may just be at peace being present to the other person who needs to share.


This person forgives easily, quickly, and doesn't hold a grudge. They will treat the offending party as if nothing happened, even if they were deeply hurt. They reflect God's virtues of slow to anger and quick to forgive.

*Embodies Meekness

This person's whole being personifies gentleness and kindness. This attitude or beatitude, brings peace to the hearts of others.  A meek person brings peace to any tense situation. A meek person is humble and patient with himself and others. This is born from a soul that is docile, one who lets God form him in the life of virtue.
Recently, our Holy Father, Francis gave a homily about meekness. He stated,"Christians need to recover the value of meekness, particularly when they are tempted to speak ill of one another."A meek person is non-threatening to others. A meek person is a reflection of the peace that comes from the heart of God.

*Possesses Joy
This person who is a peacemaker is filled with joy. A joy that the world cannot give.  Sometimes people are suspect of people who are genuinely happy. It's because the world does not understand the deep joy that comes from a peaceful heart that is removed from all attachment to the pleasure of worldly goods.


Love is the crowning glory of the heart of a peacemaker. It is sacrificial love. It is a heart of a martyr, ready to give all for God and neighbor. It loves when it does not make sense. It is a faithful and enduring love. It is a heart full of mercy and compassion for the sinner. It endures all things. As St. Paul says:

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (I Cor. 13:4)

St. Francis is a model for all Christians, especially for us as Secular Carmelites, for he was faithful to his vows. He was  faithful to Lady Poverty, Sister Chastity, and Sister Obedience. He was faithful unto death.  This is the final prayer of St. Francis:

Praise be to Thee my Lord for our sister bodily death

From whom no living man can flee;
Woe to them who die in mortal sin,
But blessed they, who shall be found in Thy most holy Will:
To them the second death can do no harm.
(From his Canticle of the Creatures)

Our new Pope, Francis, has wisely chosen St. Francis as his patron. In our world of secularism, materialism and individualism, we are reminded of the humble little Troubador of the Lord. Only a person who is filled with the peace of God can bring this peace to others and go about their daily activities singing the praises of God.

From Death to Life

Each year on October 3, the Franciscan Order celebrates the Transitus of St. Francis. Let us pray for each other that God may give us the grace to die to our self and live a life of peace and virtue. May we be ready to welcome "Sister Death."

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

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