“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love”
October 4th is the day set aside each year to celebrate the life of St. Francis of Assisi. He was a kind and gentle man, with no aspirations to become a priest. The simple truth is that Francis was too humble to desire the ranks of such a vocation. Through his life and his teachings, St. Francis taught me that our destiny is not to think in terms of having a career or a job. Instead, we should think in terms of a vocation and a mission where we can be free to “be” as God desires us to be.
My work is my vocation and my calling in this life. I give all I can to help those with chronic disease, and especially those with advanced cancer. One of the first things a patient often asks me is, “I have been told that I only have three to six months to live…do I have a chance?” My compassionate and honest response is to ask them to reflect on this prayer of St. Francis:
“Lord, grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”
I tell people that I will do all that I can in my power, that they must do them same, and that hopefully we can find an oncologist who is fearless and will do his or her best as well. The rest, we don’t worry about, because it is in God’s hands.
Inspiration from the Life of St. Francis
As a Third Order Secular Franciscan, I live my life inspired by the life of St. Francis, living according to the teaching and gospels of Jesus. I do my best to emulate the spirit of St. Francis by performing works of teaching, charity, and social service.
St. Francis faced some of the biggest questions of his day: How to respond to the growing gap between the rich and poor? How to make peace between enemies? What is our relationship to the world God made? Where is God when we suffer? Because these are also the questions of our present day, Francis has much to say to us. Francis took on the challenges of his time with humility, love, and joy.
“We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.” ~St. Francis
Remember the wisdom of the Psalms:
In God alone is my soul at rest.
God is the source of my hope.
In God I find shelter, my rock, and my safety.
Men are but a puff of wind,
Men who think themselves important are a delusion.
Put them on a scale,
They are gone in a puff of wind.
A Prayer for the Good of All
I pray that in our daily work and lives that we will all try to serve God and work for the good of others. The best service we can offer is to reflect the love of the Universal Christ, and to bring joy, peace and healing to others by example, rather than words. I pray also with your Spirit, together we can move every human heart, that the barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions will be healed, and that we may all live in peace in the pursuit of beauty, truth and love.
Richard Rohr recently suggested that we “take time for some form of public service, volunteerism, mystical reading from the masters, prayer—or, preferably, all of the above.
You have much to gain now and nothing to lose. Nothing at all.
And the world—with you as a stable center—has nothing to lose.
And everything to gain.” Richard Rohr, September 19, 2020
We all must continue to learn how to apply and transform ourselves first, and then others around us through our service, willingness to forgive, our listening, and our understanding. Forgiveness brings great freedom.
In John 8:32 we read, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Truth from God brings forgiveness and freedom.
This has been the essence of what I have learned from the teachings and life of St Francis, and it continues to guide me in my work and my life. Know that you don’t need to do this alone. There is strength in prayer and in the all forgiving One. In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis says, “After the first few steps in the Christian life we realize that everything which really needs to be done in our souls can be done only by God.”
Francis did not wage a war of words aimed at imposing doctrines; he simply spread the love of God. He understood that “God is love and those who abide in love abide in God” (1 Jn 4:16).