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October 14, 2002

The Prayer of St. Francis, Updated


BY JOHN DEAR

Lord make me an instrument of your peace--

Let me serve as a channel of your love and peace, a reconciler of peoples, an apostle of Gospel nonviolence. Help me to love all people, including the enemies of my country. Use me as a voice and instrument for nuclear and total disarmament. Make me a witness to your way of suffering love and redemptive goodwill. Use me in your struggle to liberate the oppressed, create justice for the poor, resist systemic injustice, topple the idols of death, denounce the gods of war, and beat swords into plowshares. Use me to unmask the false peace of the world, which buries the cry of the poor, the blood of the oppressed, the victims of war. Use me to create your peace, the peace which comes through the nonviolent cross and resurrection. Fashion me into a person of contemplative nonviolence; a person of prayer, mindfulness, harmony, and wisdom. Let me radiate your disarming grace and light and presence to all.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love--

Transform the hatred in my own heart into your love, understanding, compassion, forgiveness and grace. Disarm me so that hatred disappears and love flows freely. Use me to build bridges between divided peoples, to soothe their fears, to see one another as sisters and brothers. Let me sow the seeds of love that will bear fruit in a new spirit of repentance, mercy, disarmament, justice and liberation for the poor. Extinguish the flames of war and spring forth your life-giving waters of love--in the church, between the races and the genders, the rich and the poor, the old and the young, in Baghdad and Washington, D.C., in Calcutta and Mississippi, in Rwanda and East Timor, in Haiti and El Salvador, in South Africa and the Philippines, between East and West, North and South. Help me to sow seeds of agape, compassion and peace, and to water and care for those seeds that they may flower into your reign of nonviolence.

Where there is injury, let me sow pardon--

That I may forgive seventy times seven times, and teach forgiveness by my life; vowing like the Buddha compassion toward all living things for the rest of my life; healing especially those who have lost loved ones to violence and murder, that they may forgive those who murdered their loved ones. May we as a people grant clemency to all, including those who have murdered. May the death penalty be abolished, deterrence discarded, and the just war theory thrown away. May healing, repentance and forgiveness be the new spirit of the times. May we repent for our use of nuclear weapons on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and apologize; may we pardon all crimes of war and genocide by disarming our arsenal to ensure that they never happen again. May all claim their true identity as your children; and may you continue to forgive us our sins, our rejection of you, and our violence to you on the cross.

Where there is doubt, faith in you--

In the midst of this culture of death--faithless, insecure, fearful, idolatrous, vengeful, arrogant, materialistic; in the doubting church, believing in the culture’s empty promises, illusions, material goods, idols of death, the false security of its bombs and militarism instead of you; let me sow seeds of living faith in You. Help us to trust you who remain faithful to us. Let our faith manifest itself in the committed lives we live, true to the Gospel, to your way of nonviolence and suffering love. Let us keep your covenant of peace and remain faithful to you yourself, our gentle father, our loving mother, our faithful God.

Where there is despair, only hope--

Low grade despair and high octane desperation; no win situations with no way out; in the midst of anxiety, panic, loneliness, fear, devastation, poverty, war, death itself--there, let me sow hope, the seeds of resurrection, a way out of no way; new possibilities, new life, the life that overcomes death; the seeds of reconciliation, love, and confident trust in God. Let me instill the gift of peace, the dawn of a new day, the promise of resurrection, the vision of the promised land where there is no more war, no more nuclear weapons, no more violence, no more injustice, no more poverty, no more misery, no more fear--only love and you, the God of resurrection, standing warmly in our midst.

Where there is darkness, light--

Amidst the darkness in our hearts, the sin of violence, our self-hatred, our fear, our hostility toward one another, our oppression of the poor, our rejection of you; let your light shine--the light of peace, joy, love, trust; the light of truth, the light of resurrection, the light of hope. Let us be like Christ, the light of the world, pointing to your presence, showing each other how to live justly, humanly, nonviolently, and compassionately. Let us burn with love, truth, faith, peace and justice, so that our light, your light, will shine for all and one day, we see you face to face.

Where there is sorrow, joy--

In this world of sorrow and grief, desolation and depression, sadness and death, in hearts dulled from hostility and hatred, deadened by the bomb’s shadow, by the despair of imperial oppression, the race for money, the loss of love and loved ones; in hearts grown cold by horror upon horror, a nuclear blast upon the human spirit--there, put in us the joy of your resurrection, your joy now complete, the dawn of that new morning, when you stand by the shore, alive, welcoming, forgiving. Let us taste the joy of shalom which the world can never take away from us.

O Divine Master--

Jesus; God of Life; Human One; Compassionate, Nonviolent Savior; Prince of Peace; Mercy within Mercy within Mercy; Resister of Evil; the Way, the Truth, and the Life; Good Shepherd; our Beloved, our Brother, our Bread, our Breath--

Grant that I may seek not so much to be consoled as to console--

Not to be the center of attention, to strive for praise and honor, to let my domineering ego, proud and arrogant run rampant; instead, may I comfort others, bring them peace and warmth, safety and affection, unconditional love and kindness, and not cause anyone to be afraid in my presence, but to be at ease, at peace, relaxed, content because it is not so much me they see, but your presence shining transparently through me. May I speak the truth, denounce injustice, proclaim the good news of your justice, your jubilee year, the liberation of all from violence and death, and as I invite people to the way of the cross, and undergo it myself, may others be consoled in the hope, joy, and confidence of your resurrection, in your coming reign of peace at hand here and now.

To be understood, as to understand--

May I not be focused on argument, anger, fury, resentment, self-righteousness, indignation, or arrogance, but rather, let me understand every one else, listen to their pain, feel their sorrow, know their burdens, share their hopes and joys, weep when they weep and rejoice when they rejoice, be attentive to their needs and always, put others first. Let me know every human being as my sister and brother.

To be loved, as to love--

Grant that I may not so much seek selfishly the love of others, insisting on my rights and needs, but instead, to love others selflessly, generously, beyond measure, unconditionally, without any desire for reciprocation, without any expectation of service in return; a love that is willing to suffer for others; that will lay down my life for others in the nonviolent struggle for peace, for justice for the poor, for protection of the earth and all living things; a love even for my enemies, my persecutors; a love that insists on truth, that resists evil nonviolently, that reflects your own love for all people, a love that radiates your love present in my own spirit calling me your beloved.

For it is in giving that we receive--

By giving selflessly, sacrificially all that we have, as you did for us dying on the cross in the struggle for justice and truth; by sharing our resources with the poor, sharing our lives with one another, sharing our faith, hope and love with all people--we receive a hundred times more--life, love, friends, faith, hope, peace, and joy. We receive your blessing, your wisdom, your mercy, your love, your presence, You yourself.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned--

That I may forgive everyone who has ever hurt me, especially those closest to me, my family, my friends, my community; that I may let go of all resentment, grudges, anger, bitterness and hostility; that I may see only your love, present in everyone; concentrate on your abiding presence, and so love all; that I may grant clemency to all and so win clemency for myself and all; that I may pardon others as you have already pardoned me and continue to pardon me; that I may resist war, injustice and poverty through the steadfast nonviolent resistance that risks my life yet already forgives all who persecute me, so that your reign of forgiveness and compassion may be proclaimed.

It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Through our own deaths, the peaceful letting go of our lives, everyday of our lives, until our final breath, may we experience life and go deeper into new life; by entering your paschal mystery, by sharing in your cross--the way of nonviolent resistance to systemic injustice, the way of compassion and truth, justice and love, the way of redemptive love through unearned suffering, willingly accepted without even the desire for retaliation. By sharing in your death, Jesus, we are born into the new life of your resurrection and enter into the paradise of your peace to live with you, the saints, and the God of life, in perfect joy, forever and ever.

Amen. Alleluia.

(Taken from “THE SOUND OF LISTENING: A RETREAT JOURNAL FROM THOMAS MERTON’S HERMITAGE.” Published by Continuum Books, 1999.)

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