“Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace”

This is the title of a prayer of oft quoted St. Francis of Assisi. This week at Vespers there was talk of peace, a guided visual prayer for inner peace, and many writings on peace available. 

Conversations about peace are often a little bittersweet for me. When I was so wrapped up in my Christianity I had peace. I don’t just mean I was okay with what happened in life….I loved it, I completely immersed myself into God’s peace. It truly was the “peace that passes all understanding”, though before I experienced it (and after it was over) I really couldn’t tell you what that phrase means. I had this overwhelming sense of peace just a few months before I had my God fall out. When my agnostic stage hit, I began to spiral from this place of assurance, peace, and hope to a new world that was dark and unexposed, and I became bitter about that place of assurance. If I was so sure about the existence of God, of the peace that he brings, and the overall goodness that is in everything…why did it let me tumble into this angry place? Over the past year or two I have been working on coming out of that dark place back to a new, perhaps more stable, vision of God and the world. I think I’m doing well at it, I’m not as angry about religion as I used to be. Someone who’s opinion I highly value told me that I had the look of someone coming out of a dark place…I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I’m glad that it fits. 

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,

not so much to be understood as to understand,

not so much to be loved, as to love; 

for it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

it is in dying that we awake to eternal life.

That is the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi that he entitled “Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace”. The bold portion is to show where my mind placed the emphasis, not his. 

Here’s what I know about peace…I cannot achieve peace when I am focused only on myself.

Although I don’t really know if I achieved the highly exalted ”peace that passes all understanding” a few years ago…I know that, for me, it was the most peaceful time that I have had in my life. In reflection I can see that it was probably because I spent the majority of my thoughts/prayers thinking about other people. Sending positive thoughts their way, hoping for a better situation for them and not for myself. I don’t think that anyone needs to necessarily believe in God, or be a Christian to achieve this peace. I think it requires getting out of your own head and putting others before yourself, and that allows room for peace to flow.

This opinion allows me to be a little more comfortable with the idea of peace. God is not holding peace hostage for only his believers and followers…it is simply something that can be achieved by everyone when we take time to consider and act for others. 

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