Friday, September 23, 2016

Francis . . .The little man with a ginormous mission!

Painting by Cimabue

On October 4th, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi will be observed. This man, small and fragile in stature, was able to move the political and religious worlds much like a “spiritual tsunami” which has lasted over 800 years. It was with these words heard in the little village church while praying before an ancient crucifix: "Go, Francis, and repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin” that Francis turned the world upside down. We have all received from his spirit again and again to teach us the values that have empowered so many over these hundreds of years to carry on his mission, his dream, his call.

Today we know that there have been so many ways in which the memory of Francis is ever before us.  Besides the women and men orders that live in religious community and commit to his way of life, there are also all those other images, books, etc., that keep the life of the Poverello before us.  For instance, how many of us have Francis in our gardens?  Yes, and yet here are a few more items that have been created to remind us that he once lived and changed the world: books (both novels and biographies), films, classical music, poems, blessings, chapels, churches, songs, wineries and vineyards, pet blessings and even tags for identification.  Everything short of action figures or video games! And most of us can recite the St. Francis Peace Prayer; however, research has attributed the present form to Cardinal Francis Spellman from 1949.   

So let us ask Francis to intercede for us and our world as we experience our nation and our planet “falling into ruin” for so many reasons.  Let us pray together:

A Franciscan Prayer for Peace

Lord, make us instruments of your Peace.  In a world all too prone to violence and revenge, We commit ourselves to the Gospel Values of Mercy, Justice, Compassion, and Love; We will seek daily to promote forgiveness and healing in our hearts, our families, and our world.

Where there is hatred, let us sow Love; Where there is injury, let us cultivate Peace. Fear and distance prevent people from recognizing all as sisters and brothers; tensions lead to violence and mistrust; We will strive to honor the dignity that God places in each and every human person.

Grant that we may not seek to be understood as to understand; To be loved as to Love.  Our failure to understand the other can create exclusion in all its negative forms – racism, marginalization of those who are poor, sick, the immigrant; it can also create situations of domination, occupation, oppression and war.  We pledge to see the way of solidarity, to create hearts, homes, and communities where all people will experience inclusion, hospitality, and understanding.

For it is in giving that we receive, in pardoning that we are pardoned and in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Let us pray: God, create in us;
- The capacity to hear and understand the voices of those who suffer from every form of violence, injustice, and dehumanization;
- The openness to receive and honor people from other cultures, languages, religious traditions, and geographical regions;
- The creativity to explore new ways of community and dialogue through music, poetry, performing arts, and mass media;
- The audacity to undertake the building of communities of forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation.

To God who is above all and in all are the glory and the honor.  Amen.

"Dancing Francis" Viterbo University Campus
La Crosse, WI

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