Pillars of Pine

Pillars of Pine

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


One of my favourite saints is St Francis of Assisi.  'Make me a channel of your peace', says St Francis, and often I can be heard humming along to this popular hymn.  I strive to be a peacemaker, however, I often fail in my undertakings.  Still, I continue, and hope and pray that God knows my heart, and how I yearn for peace. 

For those of you who do not know the 'Prayer of St Francis', here it is.  It has become my life's motto, and all that I strive to be:
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.
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.

Below I pass on a post I came across tonight, taken from:  http://penitents.org/followfrancisarchives.html  

I found the post to be a very interesting read, providing much food for thought.

One of the most beautiful incidents in the life of Saint Francis is when Francis brought about peace between the mayor and the bishop of Assisi. It would certainly seem a strange situation where a man of God, namely the bishop, would be at odds with anyone, but that was the case. And that was because the mayor Lord Oportulo de Bernardo had defied Bishop Guido's orders and continued an alliance with the knights and nobles of Perugia in a class struggle against the commoners of that city. In other words, the mayor and knights of Assisi, by their actions, were prolonging a war among the citizens of Perugia. They were not making peace. So Bishop Guido excommunicated Lord Oportulo. Oportulo struck back. He forbid the Assisi merchants to sell anything to the bishop or to his household. The animosity between bishop and mayor had gone beyond all bounds.

Francis knew what hatred was all about. His own father had not understood Francis's desire to follow God, and Francis, in the rashness of his youth, had disowned his father on the steps of the bishop's house. Prior to that, Francis had fought as a knight in a war between Assisi and Perugia and had seen death and hatred close at hand. He wanted no part of it now. Years later he had traveled to Damietta to try to effect peace between Crusaders and Saracens, but to no avail. The Crusaders had been violent toward their enemies, so unlike the peaceful Francis. The sultan had told Francis that, if Christians were like the little friar, the sultan himself would have converted. Because they were not, the war between the pagans and Christians continued unabated.

Francis loved both the mayor and the bishop of his city. He could not bear to see them hating one another. So he, from his sick bed in 1225, called them both to a meeting at the bishop's palace. They agreed only because of their respect for the Poverello. When they had gathered together, Francis was not present. He was too ill to come. But his friars were there, singing the Canticle of the Creatures which Francis had composed. They sang through the haunting verses lauding the Lord and His glory, praising His creatures Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother Fire, Sister Water. Their voices lifted as they poured forth the verse which Francis had composed specifically for this meeting:

"Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love and bear infirmity and tribulation. Blessed are those who endure in peace for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned."

The words struck the hearts of both men. Francis was calling them to pardon for the love of God. Lord Oportulo fell on his knees before the bishop, promising any atonement Bishop Guido would ask. Guido, in his largeness of heart, raised the Lord to his feet, apologized for his quick temper, and asked the Oportulo's forgiveness. The two men embraced, and peace was restored between them.

As penitents, we are called to be like Francis, like the friars, and like both bishop and mayor. We are called to recognize factions and to work to bring about peace between them. We are also called upon to make peace if we are part of the problem.

Sometimes endings are not as happy as the ending to this story, and that is because those who are at odds are not yet saints. Still, if we try to bring about peace and fail, we are not then allowed to wash our hands of the situation and go our way. Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies and do good to those who hate us. Our prayers may be the only good over which they have no power, for no one other than we ourselves can prevent us from praying for others. In the name Christ and of St. Francis, who gave us our Rule with its provisions in Article 26 regarding making peace with all, we in the CFP exhort all our members to attempt to be at peace with everyone and, if rebuffed, to bathe our enemies with prayer for their ultimate salvation. It is what Francis did. It is what Christ called us to do. It is what we have no choice but to do if we are to live our Rule in its spirit. May God grant us the means and the graces to be true peacemakers in His Kingdom.

Madeline Pecora Nugent

May God bless you,


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