Prayer of St. Francis – so relevant now

Some thirty years ago I discovered the Prayer of St. Francis, popularized in a Christian song often being sung at that time. And I was blown away since the words seemed to me so pertinent. As one susceptible to being misrepresented I was challenged, for example, by the idea it is better to understand than be understood, as well as the notion of letting the Lord make me a channel of His Peace.

A few years later, I recall after Margaret Thatcher had just won the General Election, she quoted that prayer, much to the dismay of some arguing that rather than sowing love she had inspired hatred. My purpose is not to defend or otherwise Thatcher any more than I would (and have done so) Trump, who if I accept the rhetoric of many of my news feeds earlier today is also guilty of hate mongering e.g. to do with a migrant column trying to enter the USA from the South, letter bombs recently sent to prominent liberals and the shooting at a Pittsburgh Jewish synagogue. This hate rhetoric is being raised elsewhere, e.g. locally with, so it is claimed, far right posters being posted, nationally with the latest on Tommy Robinson and internationally with Brazil electing a far right president. I am mindful that often, by way of corrective, and because I believe there is as much hate, if not more, generated by anti-Trumpers, leftie liberals etc., I have a tendency to throw in my own take on what is going on, which whatever our view as is to origin, is unwelcome.

When challenged on Trump’s rhetoric when he calls out people who oppose him, I often point out that his approach is not one I condone and given it can inspire a hateful response by certain of his followers may be unwise and does not meet my TNK (true, necessary, kind) criteria. But then I see him responding to wrongs done to him or being inflicted upon the people he had been elected to serve, but then again something my own dad tried to install in me growing up: two wrongs do not make a right should also apply. So let it be made clear, even though I should not need to make the point, acts of hatred, whether instigated by those on the left or the right or any other direction are to be firmly opposed. While on the subject of hate, I should also mention something that is often related: fear. I don’t believe it is right for anyone to have to live in fear, especially when the legacy to the followers of the Lord St. Francis prayed to was His Peace, but then again I don’t believe anyone should have to live in ignorance concerning the truth; I don’t believe free speech should be suppressed because it doesn’t fit the narrative and in the light of the rise in (far right, please define) popularism, I don’t believe it is right to pander to peoples’ worst fears and prejudices.

So it is back to the prayer of St. Francis, which really says it all when it comes to how best to respond. If more people prayed that prayer, following it through by action, we would see radical positive change.

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’s in dying that we are born to eternal life
Amen

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3 thoughts on “Prayer of St. Francis – so relevant now

  1. I, also, see no connection with St. Francis and the present president. HOWEVER, I can see a connection to myself with St. Francis. If he was praying this as a prayer which he was, for this was St. Francis’ most eloquent prayers – it means he needed our Lords assistance in attaining this attitude, to become this beacon or broker of peace during his time on this earth.
    Now, it is our time and place to be peacemakers. To show more peace than we get. To love more than we are loved, to turn the other cheek while biting out tongue.
    I am thoroughly opposed to our occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave on every level of humanity. Though, I can pray for him, as we are told to do while praying for myself be all that 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a challenges me to be. I can offer peaceful comments in the face of bigotry. I can offer grace in the face of unrest. I can offer salvation to those who do not know our Lord, and put politics aside the way Daniel did when serving Nebuchadnezzar (I realize this president should be servicing us), but I’m holding him to a standard of his own folly (like Nebuchadnezzar’s) while I have the option to choose wisdom. I, as St. Francis, have the same Holy Spirit guiding my path; therefore, there is no need for nastiness in my part. I may choose to be charity. If all Christians in America we to strive toward St. Francis’ prayer + 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a + 2 Chronicles 7:14 our land would be free, free of hate, violence, anger, greed, and every form of evil. We would thrive, becoming ALL G-d would have us become.
    I thank you for your post. We disagree on red vs blue, but my brother that fails in comparison to our agreement on how we can and should pray and reach to become better people. These are the treasures we can store up in heaven together. Love is always the right answer.
    Many thanks.

  2. paul fox says:

    I found this on the Web. When I think of Trump, I think of the 1930s, and how Hitler came to power, supported by the German Churches.
    Dietrich Bonhoeffer — Wrestling with faith in the Age of Trump
    01/06/2018 09:54 pm ET Updated Jan 07, 2018

    This is not a SOUL TEACHERS blog. Since Trump’s election, I’ve struggled to know how to respond to him as a person of faith.

    I HAVE A friend who lives in the Deep South. She’s progressive, but she teaches at a private, fundamentalist Christian school. Obviously, she keeps her opinions to herself — she doesn’t want to risk her job. I’ll call her “Sarah.” She told me a story.

    “I was chatting with a colleague,” said Sarah, “and we were talking about Trump.”

    “‘Yes. I think Trump exhibits signs of the Antichrist,’” my colleague said.”

    Sarah’s colleague was referring to the apocalyptic figure found the Book of Revelation who will have extraordinary powers and usher in the Apocalypse.

    No one knows exactly what will happen, but if you’re thinking thermonuclear war, total annihilation of our planet, literal hell come to earth — you’re looking at the right dystopia.

    Sarah continued. “So I’m right there with my colleague: Trump bad, Hillary good. Which is why I voted for Hillary.”

    “So I asked, ‘What did you do?’ To which he replies, ‘I just couldn’t bring myself to vote for Hillary.’”

    “Imagine my shock,” Sarah concluded, “when it hit me — ‘Wait! Hillary is worse than the Antichrist?’”

    Apparently, 81% of evangelical Christians came to this conclusion on Nov. 8, 2016.

    IT’S BEEN A painful year for our family.

    Let me state upfront: I’m a Democrat. I’m also a professing Christian, raised as an evangelical, but now attending a Lutheran church on our little island in the Pacific Northwest.

    Like half the country, we didn’t seriously consider the impossible. It was so clear — Americans would never elect a man like Trump to our highest office. As Hillary put it, “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”

    Then America elected Donald J. Trump.

    After that dark night, that week, that month — after I came to grips with the reality that every news organization I trusted, every friend with whom I had discussed the election, every poll taken … had been dead wrong — I took stock of my life.

    It was my worst nightmare.

    ONE PRIMARY CONCERN LOOMED in my mind.

    Could Trump tweet us into a nuclear war? It was a fairly common concern. And it didn’t help when conservative, evangelical friends who had voted for Trump seemed okay with the ultimate nightmare.

    One of my deeply conservative friends — who considers herself a prophetess — told me the summer before the election she had a dream. In her dream, President Trump triggered the Apocalypse.

    But she had decided to vote for Trump anyway.

    It wasn’t a difficult decision. Trump was pro-life. He would act as God’s agent for change. He would bring about the End Times.

    If the Apocalypse happened, she and her homeschooled family (and church) would be happily ushered into a blissful eternity.

    Like all orthodox Christians, I’m looking forward to Christ’s Second Coming. But I’d rather keep that event out of the restless hands of Trump.

    As former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop once put it, “I’m not ready to give up on the human race quite yet.”

    THIS ISN’T THE first time evangelicals thought the Antichrist was an okay choice. This isn’t the first time a political figure exhibited the signs of the Antichrist, but was elected anyway. This isn’t the first time evangelical Christians got it wrong.

    Remember Chancellor Adolf Hitler?

    I’ve known for quite a while that Germans elected the Fuehrer democratically.

    What I did not know was this: the majority of Christians supported Hitler’s nationalistic spirit, his promise to make Germany great again.

    They had their reasons. Germany had been humiliated after World War I, and the Great Powers who defeated them were pretty mean-spirited in victory.

    So when Hitler came along, blaming a certain ethnic group for Germany’s economic woes, it seemed like a pretty good reason to get rid of them. Okay, sure, Hitler was a tad extreme, but hey — tough times call for tough action.

    So Christian churches mostly lined up behind him. They even got annoyed at progressive Christians like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who spoke out strongly against Hitler. They were a little put off by his negativity.

    The Cost of Discipleship? What was he talking about? No wonder the Fuehrer arrested him.

    And then they found out Bonhoeffer was involved in an assassination plot against Hitler.

    Of course he deserved to be hanged.

    I’VE THOUGHT A lot about Bonhoeffer lately. I suspect a lot of people have. In particular, I’ve been struggling with the following question: How should people of faith react to our current administration?

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