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;
And 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.
Following St. Francis as Peacemaker
Praise to You, my Lord, for those who pardon one another
As we pray in honour of St Francis, we will concentrate in a particular way, on the role of St Francis as peacemaker and, as his followers, how we too are called to follow this way. With the present world climate, the world needs those who seek the way of peace more then ever. And so, let us ask The Lord to make us channels of His peace, that he may receive our prayers as a plea to bring peace to our world.
The cross at San Damiano spoke to Francis and said "Francis, go repair my church, which as you see is in ruins". We know that he took this literally, but that the Lord meant the church as His body. One aspect of this rebuilding, which Francis undertook, was to become a peacemaker. If we are all parts of the body of Christ, then to repair that body necessarily means to try to promote peace. An example of this took place when Francis was actually at San Damiano. and composed the canticle of the Creatures, when he was very sick and blind and near death. He celebrated the beauty of the Lord in His creation, which he could no longer perceive with the eyes. He heard that the bishop of Assisi and the mayor were at loggerheads, and so, to try to bring peace, he added another verse to the Canticle:
For love of You, and endure sickness and tribulation;
Blessed are they who shall endure it in peace,
For they shall be crowned by You, O Most High.
When we see how much it grieved Francis to see the lack of peace, and the lengths he went to, to achieve reconciliation, even though he was so sick, we realize how much peace making was at the very core of his being. We know that St Francis probably didn't write the 'peace prayer' that is attributed to him, but it embodies very much his attitude to life. The song "Make me a channel of your peace" captures it well. I like the word "channel" as opposed to 'instrument', which gives a different slant to it. When I think of it, I think of how St Therese felt that if God needed an outlet for His Justice, it made even more sense that, as His love & mercy were so powerful, He would need an outlet for these. Well, if you can talk about these different attributes of God needing "outlets", then I think that we can also say that God needs 'outlets' or 'channels' of His peace and we are called to be these channels.When I think of a channel, I think of an eveshute, with the drainpipe being the channel. During heavy rain, the eveshute fills up, and needs the drainpipe to act as an outlet to let the water down safely. It is as if all these graces of God are pent up and just need an outlet. The mystery of it all is that we do not need to 'feel' particularly peaceful ourselves to be a channel. We just need to be empty and willing to be a channel. The drainpipe is not 'aware' of what exactly it is channelling - it could be water or wine - it doesn't actually 'taste' what it is channelling. As with St Therese, although she let herself be an 'outlet' of God's love to the world, she herself, for a long time, felt abandoned by God. So we should not let our feelings deceive us. We can give peace to others, to the world, even though we feel that we have none to give. All we need is to be willing, and to come to God with empty hands.
Whenever we experience wrongs, the easiest response is to let hatred reign in our hearts. If the injustice is blatantly obvious, it's even possible to feel righteous about this response. The more difficult and courageous reaction, however, is to remain peaceful and not allow anger the victory. This was Jesus' response when he stood before Pilate.
In the midst of suffering, it is our task as Christians to cry out for justice and peace, but also to live the message by opening ourselves to the power of God's love, "poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit" (Romans 5:5). And in our prayer for peace in the Holy land and in the world, Christ invites us to begin by examining ourselves.
- Do I allow Christ's peace to reign in me?
- Do I resist his gift of peace?
- Is there peace in my relationships?
- Am I winning the battle to keep peace in my own heart?
Unless I have that peace, I will not be able to build peace around me and the battle for peace rages between nations and in every human heart. Our greatest task as human beings is to fight and win this battle, by God's grace. Pursue this goal in the everyday circumstances of our lives, and we will be contributing in a great way to peace in the world.
It is not easy to live as a peacemaker. The Christian life is a very challenging one. But, if through the grace of God, His life-giving energy is pulsing through our hearts to all the Church and the world, we have to try to live as peacemakers. We cannot do it. We come with empty hands, and so, I think that we need, as Francis, to come humbly to the cross, and to pray as he did.