Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
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.
I began reading another of Wayne Dyer’s books the other night in which he discusses the impact that this prayer has had upon his life. I recalled that it was one of my favourite verses many years ago and felt that this was a sign to me to revisit the prayer once again. And so I read it with the eyes of one who has seen more in her life than when she had previously read it. And I saw depth in his written words that I could not have imagined in my youth.
This prayer has been recited and quoted throughout history. Movies such as ‘Band of Brothers’, ‘Rambo’ and ‘Brother Sun, Sister Moon’ have used its words. Mother Teresa, President Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and countless others have used the words in addresses and welcome speeches. At the funeral of Princess Diana, the prayer was sung and Sinead O’Connor included it on her tribute album afterwards.
So who was St Francis? And how would he feel knowing that his words have been immortalised? I can’t answer how he would feel but I can tell you about who the man was. (Thank you once again Mr Google).
St Francis of Assisi was born in Italy circa 1181. His father was a wealthy cloth merchant and his mother was a stunning French woman. St Francis grew up in luxury and was spoiled rotten. He dressed well and was a charming young man. After leaving school at 14, he became a bit of a party animal and became known for his drinking, partying and spending time with women. He regularly broke the city curfew. He was competent in archery and horsemanship and his dream was to become a knight rather than follow his father into the family business. After fighting in a battle between Assisi and Perugia, he was captured and held for ransom once the opposing force realised that he was dressed in finer clothes and armour than many of his fellow soldiers. Whilst waiting in a cell for a year for his father to pay his ransom, he began having visions. After his release from prison, he heard the word of Christ telling him to repair the Christian church and live a life of poverty. He had returned from war broken in mind and body (now we would call it PTSD) and this vision gave him the hope to carry on. He began spending time in prayer and solitude. The people of his town were divided on whether St Francis was delusional and broken or was actually inspired by God. Either way, his life became an example to others. He set out to live his life according to the teachings of Christ and did not follow church doctrines of the time. What he preached was an emotional and personal Christianity that resonated with the people. After his death at age 44, he was canonised as a saint and became the patron saint of ecology and animals.
There is much in his words that would set the world on the right track once more if they were taken to heart. It only needs to start with one person. I can be that person. Can you?