Franciscan Spirit Blog

Soul Training with St. Francis

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.



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