Sunday, October 4, 2015

St. Francis, his example, prayer and nonviolence

While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart. - St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio chose the name Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi and is the first Pope to bear that name. Yesterday the Archdiocese of Miami organized a conversation on Pope Francis's visit to Cuba. Today is the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi and presents an opportunity to reflect on the life and legacy of this Saint.

Last month during the Pope's visit to Cuba the Free Cuba Foundation announced a fast for freedom which included a call for participants to pray the Peace Prayer of St. Francis.
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.
This prayer was not written by St. Francis but is traced to the early 20th century and it does embody the life he lived.  Cardinal Bergoglio is said to have chosen the name out of a deep concern for the poor but also nature and peace. Saint Francis at the height of the Fifth Crusade traveled to Damietta, Egypt, behind enemy lines, to meet with Sultan Malik al-Kamil and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. He also met with both parties in the conflict, the above mentioned Sultan and the Christian general Cardinal Pelagius preaching peace and an end to the killing. St. Francis was threatened with being branded a heretic by Church authorities for the encounter. The Catholic saint was characterized by his willingness to engage in open dialogue with all sorts.

We live in an age in which a constant stream of information bombards those trying to listen and understand the times, but the past offers knowledge that should also be heeded because it has endured the tests of time.

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