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Franciscan Spirit Blog

Soul Training with St. Francis

Jan 7, 2022
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Faith leads to hope in the goodness of others, which is shown in charity, or love for one another. Faith, hope, and charity are the only way to peace.

When he was a high school seminarian, Father Albert Haase, OFM, ended one of our spiritual direction sessions with, “Father Murray, you are soon going on a long journey that will be the fulfillment of the dream of your life.” I already knew I was soon to travel to Assisi to write a life of St. Francis. Albert could not have known that, nor could he have known the part his prescient words would play in the theme of the book that became Francis: The Journey and the Dream. His words confirmed the direction the book was already taking.

And now, reading his book on praying and living the Peace Prayer of St. Francis, I realize his words are again prescient. They could change the direction of anyone’s life who takes to heart the words of this Peace Prayer and begins to live them. The words of the prayer can train the soul to be as fit as so many people’s bodies are in today’s gym-oriented world. This book is a challenge and an exciting spiritual journey for anyone who longs for true peace of soul and for peace in our world.

I am writing these words at a time of ongoing suffering and confusion in America. COVID-19 is still a factor in our lives, a silent chaotic disease that is inside the increasingly loud outer protests against that other disease that is consuming America: racism.

These two diseases mirror each other in that they are both bred in silence and erupt into the body politic when the silence that preceded them becomes a subtle and sometimes not so subtle denial that something is deeply wrong inside America. It is becoming more and more evident that justice and transparency have been denied those who are begging for justice and those who are demanding the truth about COVID-19, the viral disease that is killing so many Americans.

Soul Training with the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis

In a sense these two diseases are both viral, and they cannot be defined and defeated unless we begin to love one another as God loves us, without prejudice or favoritism, but, as St. Francis says, “as a mother loves and nourishes her own child.” Using the Peace Prayer of St. Francis, Father Albert once again predicts that if we embrace this prayer, we will all begin to embark on a long journey that will result in the fulfillment of our deepest dream.

Father Albert was but a mere boy when he predicted the journey I was beginning into the dream of Assisi and its most famous son, Francis Bernardone, who became the symbol of what it means to be at peace with God and others.

Now Father Albert is but a humble Franciscan friar speaking out about a way all of us can be led by the spirituality of St. Francis and find the peace which even democracy seems to keep denying large portions of American society, especially among the poor, the disenfranchised, the people who because of their color have continued to be oppressed and dismissed since the beginning of slavery in America and even before that since the beginning of America’s riding roughshod over the lands and rights and dignity of its own indigenous peoples.

Faith leads to hope in the goodness of others, which is shown in charity, or love for one another. Faith, hope, and charity are the only way to peace. I can’t think of a better manual than the Peace Prayer of St. Francis to guide us to become peaceful people, both personally and as a society.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.


Arlene B. Muller
Fri, 01/07/2022 - 10:25 AM
Arlene B. Muller
The late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream was that people would no longer be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. This is what must be our goal and aim. The same measuring rod should be applied to our justice system, law enforcement & every other aspect of society based not on race but on behavior and character. America has a sinful past with respect to oppressing people of other races. A vestige of this still exist and can sometimes rear its ugly head. But there is also reverse racism & attempts to paint the map of our country that also has many virtues, done much good, and shone a light of liberty & justice for the whole world with the ugly brush of the perception of racism even where it does not exist. In our country and in our time there are Black/Aftican Americans who have risen to the heights of success, probably in every profession and occupation, even to the highest echelons of our government. T here are forces in this country influenced by communism that promote critical race theory and that have minimized the violence and destruction done both people of all races to people of all races under the guise of "peaceful protest" that was nothing but peaceful in response to the killing of George Floyd. The group that is known as BLM is compromised of people of all races that have an agenda of hate and of no respect for the sanctity of human life or the sanctity of the family. Although Black lives INDEED matter, the group BLM has an evil agenda if you read the various ideas for which they stand. Our aim and goal should be to respect the sanctity and dignity of ALL human life, from conception through natural death without exception for any category by which human beings define themselves. When a person does good, he/she has done what is good, irrespective of his/her race. When a person does evil, he/she has done what is evil, irrespective of his/race. Each human being should be honored or held accountable for his/her deeds and character. When we stand before GOD there is no partiality, no racism, no reverse racism, and no playing the "race card". Just the perfect blend of mercy, compassion and understanding with truth and justice for ALL. May it be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Michael Tallarico
Fri, 01/07/2022 - 03:43 PM
Michael Tallarico
I understand why you might feel the way you do. However. system wide racism is inbred into our society. It is an unfortunate byproduct of slavery. We all need to understand that the BLM movement just means that Black lives are just as important as White lives. Yes, of course there are exceptions to all rules and in spite of the systemic racism of our institutional system,some Blacks do succeed. That does not mean that Blacks are treated as fairly as their White brothers and sisters. We need to look atcthe violence that occurred on 1/6/21. Almost all of the people involved on this day were White. Yet I would not say that all White people are evil. BLM is not an evil movement and its agenda is not evil. I have read through it and find it to be posititive. We should pray for peace and not condemn the BLM movement. People condemned Martin Luther King, Gandhi and Jesus himself. They were imprisoned and tortured. At the time this occurred, these great men were thought to be heretics and despised my the majority of their countrymen. Time has shown us that these men were correct in their stances against injustice. Racism in this country is obvious. When someone does evil, they must account for it, but why did they commit that evil act? We as a society need to seek the reasons why and correct them. What is wrong with helping those who are not treated fairly. Perhaps that evil act they committed was a byproduct of the culture and environment they were raised in. We all need to take a deep look at ourselves and try to correct injustices. I am just as guilty as many, but I am trying to improve and get better. God Bless and let's all pray for peace.
Arlene B. Muller
Sat, 01/08/2022 - 09:45 AM
Arlene B. Muller
My criticism is not a denial that Black lives matter but criticism of a domestic terrorist group called BLM that does NOT represent the majority of Black people & that is pro-abortion (so they apparently have no concern for UNBORN Black lives victimized by abortion), anti family & has ties to Marxism. There are both white people & Black people involved with BLM. My problem is not with people because of skin color. I oppose ANYONE who supports/enables/promotes abortion and anyone who incites or engages in violence and/or destruction regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or any other category and I believe all that engage in violence & destruction need to be brought to justice, including those who engaged in rioting and other violent & destructive attacks following the killing of George Floyd. The corrupt police officer who killed him & those who stood by & failed to stop him have been brought to justice & are serving a jail term, and rightfully so. But many innocent people were killed or had their property or businesses destroyed and the perpetrators of this violence seemingly have been given a "pass". Although the issue of police reform and the concerns of the Black community must be heard and addressed, a violent & destructive response is not excusable, and neither is stereotyping all police officers or all white police office as evil or racist. .I believe in equal justice, equal fairness & equal mercy for all people irrespective of race & I believe we must strive to eliminate engaging in stereotypes. It is the human tendency to engage in stereotypes based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, job/position and/or politics that fuels much of the prejudice and division in our country & throughout the world. Obviously I agree that the blame for the events of January 6 should not be placed on all white people, but there needs to be a full & unbiased investigation of all the evidence. It is possible that a handful of white supremacists, who do NOT represent the majority of white people and who do NOT represent the majority of people who voted for Donald Trump, were involved. If white supremacists incited or engaged in violence, they, too must be brought to justice.
Mark Cline
Fri, 01/07/2022 - 01:29 PM
Mark Cline
When I was young in the Catholic Faith, I witnessed a fiery sermon on how a black man had been wronged. From my years now, I have come to the realization yes, we may have been wronged but what am I and others like me going to do about it? Will we continue to blame others and keep burning down the house? St. Francis prayer is a very good devotional prayer one that should be lived. I came to know God from the beginning of which The Lord himself prescribed in The Our Father. It spells out clearly what God's will is for the World. If one Pray's this Prayer I think Jesus will do everything in his power to save souls. Isn't that ultimate justice?
Sat, 01/08/2022 - 06:08 PM
I loved this! Francis is a saint to rely on.

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