One of the most famous men in the Catholic Church is a man called St. Francis of Assisi. You can go back to the time in which he lived, anywhere from 1182 to 1286, and find the story of a man from a wealthy background who got involved in a kind of war that put him in prison for a year. Then after that he had an encounter with a leper that changed his whole set of values. It is a remarkable story. From that individual whom we call St. Francis of Assisi came forth hundreds of schools and colleges that were built all throughout the world. The message taught was one of simplicity, one of recognizing the beauty of God in everything from the little animals to the majestic sky. St. Francis, during his time, was remembered by hundreds of thousands who recognized his holiness his compassion and his simplicity of life. Some people might remember St. Francis because of all the various Franciscan institutions that now carry his name. But there is one thought that I think will prompt St. Francis to be remembered longer than any of his building or his churches. It is the beautiful prayer, a tribute to him, that starts off, "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace". Imagine what would happen today if the American soldiers in Iraq and the Iraqi soldiers in their own country live by this simple prayer..."where there is hatred, let me bring love; where there is sadness, let me bring joy".
St. Francis was one man who went throughout Europe teaching the most important values for human relationships. All of those values are incorporated in that one prayer..."Lord, make me an instrument of your peace". We are all sadden by the tragedy that took place in London where over sixty people were killed and hundreds severely wounded by men who went in to blow up not only themselves, but all of the innocent people nearby. When you analyze this kind of philosophy in the long haul of life, what is achieved? The Moslems become more threatened, the English become more saddened and the Americans become more determined.
This editorial is not trying to be simplistic. Its one aim is to teach us one thing. All of us can be instruments of peace. All of us can be instruments of love. All of us can be instruments of hope. In 1968 at the United Nations in New York, Pope Paul VI made the statement before thousands of delegates when he said, "War, never again, War, never again". We now know that many of our governments have not found any solution to war. If you look at the great movements in our country, whether it is Mothers Against Drunk Driving or even organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous, those organizations started off with one person who believed they could achieve a tremendous amount of good and they did. Our role, while the thoughts of war have no immediate solution for anyone, reminds us of our own personal power to be peace maker. There is no better blue print than that given I the prayer of St. Francis where he says:
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 be understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
St. Francis of Assisi