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. Amen.
This is one of the most popular prayers in the repository of the Catholic Church. I remember as a child, my family would say this prayer at the end of the Rosary each night. As I matured in age and understanding, I have grown to appreciate the beauty and the power of this simple prayer. I began my note with this prayer because during the month of October, we celebrate the feast of one of the most beloved saints in the Church, and the figure by whom this prayer is inspired: ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI.
Francis was born to a family of means. At a young age, he dreamed of becoming a knight but soon abandoned that dream after a harrowing experience in war. Illness and disillusionment, conversations with God and contact with the poor, have led him to realize that God may have a different plan for him. While praying inside a decrepit chapel, Francis heard a voice coming from the cross saying to him, “Francis, go and rebuild my Church which, as you can see, is falling into ruin.” Francis may have taken these words literally at first, since he soon labored to repair the Church brick by brick. However, those words later took on a much deeper and broader meaning. Many were inspired by what they saw and followed Francis in his radical way of walking in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. That way— marked by complete self-emptying, altruism, and benevolence—would define the Franciscans for centuries to come.
At St. Lawrence Seminary, it is our mission to carry on that legacy and to teach that charism to a new generation of men, who are discerning God’s call for them in life. Through our social skills and other programs, our students learn the importance of giving themselves generously in service to others for the good of the community. We do so because we believe that like Francis, we, too, are called to rebuild the Church. We believe that by following Christ more radically as Francis did—devoting ourselves totally to God, returning to the very roots of the Gospel, offering ourselves in service to our brothers and sisters and living more boldly the fundamental values of our faith (kindness and truth, justice and mercy, forgiveness and love, joy and peace)—we rebuild the Church and transform the face of this earth to reflect more the Kingdom of God.