Monday, October 27, 2008

The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

I used to hate memorized prayers. I thought they were awful, terrible things that separated our true feelings from God. Ad libbing each prayer was the only way I could tell God how I felt. And the whole rosary thing scared the bejeezus out of me! I mean, that's just a whole lot of idle prayin' goin' on, right?

Once I got past the whole "Mary, Mother of God" bit and actually looked into what those rehearsed prayers were all about, it made so much more sense to me: someone already said it better than I ever will. And saying those prayers doesn't take away my own thoughts or intentions: in fact, I can add my own words or even make my own prayers any time I want. I do. As beautiful as the Anima Christi and the Sanctus are, though, I've found more wisdom and solace in the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi than any other.

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.


Amanda said...

I love this prayer. When I was in France I read a book called "Le Tres Bas" for my modern French lit. class. Basically, it's in a series about famous "pairings" in history, and it was the story of St. Francis and his relationship with the God of the "very low"...a wonderful read. There was also a little excerpt of this prayer in it.

cm0978 said...

Yes, St. Francis's words are certainly something to strive towards. I've moved away from the memorized prayers because I have said them so long they have lost a lot of meaning. They are useful, though, as a way of focusing the background thoughts running through your mind so that you can think about Jesus and his life. I need to spend more time listening for God -- I rush through life and through words up to Him, but don't quiet myself to hear His response.

chris farrell said...

This is a really great prayer. One of my favorites. You might check out The Little Flowers of St Francis of Assisi, book about Saint Francis, written quite a while ago, like 1600 or something.
On the topic of spirituality, I'm watching Into Great Silence right now, a really long documentary that just shows the daily rituals and goings on of a bunch of Carthusian monks in France, who also leave in an incredibly beautiful setting up in the mountains. Highly recommended. Don't expect a lot of action though.