Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Alan Paton reflects on St. Francis of Assisi’s profound prayer

INSTRUMENT OF THY PEACE. While looking for another book at the Interim Central Library in downtown Indianapolis, I came across a volume by Alan Paton, most noted as author of Cry, the Beloved Country.  I've since been reading Instrument of Thy Peace (Seabury Press, 1968), which is a series of reflections on St. Francis of Assisi's well-known, often-quoted prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace:
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is discord, harmony;
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 pard'ning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life!

SELF-PITY COMES TO AN END. Paton writes of St. Francis' prayer: "When I pray his prayer, or even remember it, my melancholy is dispelled, my self-pity comes to an end, my faith is restored, because of this majestic conception of what the work of a disciple should be....Life is no longer nasty, mean, brutish, and short, but becomes the time that one needs to make it less nasty and mean, not only for others, but indeed also for oneself."

THROW OFF HELPLESSNESS. He goes on: "This is the only way in which a Christian can encounter hatred, injury, despair and sadness, and that is by throwing off one's helplessness and allowing oneself to be made the bearer of love, the pardoner, the bringer of hope, the comforter of those who grieve."

OPEN MY EYES AND EARS. At the end of each reflection/chapter, Paton pens a prayer. Here's a particularly poignant one:

"O Lord, open my eyes that I may see the need of others,
open my ears that I may hear their cries,
open my heart so that they need not be without succor,
let me be not afraid to defend the weak
because of the anger of the strong,
nor afraid to defend the poor
because of the anger of the rich.
Show me where love and hope and faith are needed,
and use me to bring them to those places.
And so open my eyes and my ears
that I may this coming day be able to
do some work of peace for You.

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