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Franciscan Spirit Blog

St. Francis: Artisan of Peace

Jan 19, 2022
a dove carved into stone
“Peace be with you” echoed from Jesus’ life through the life of St. Francis of Assisi. We are called to allow it to reverberate through our lives as well.

Perhaps no other virtue is more associated with St. Francis of Assisi than peace. He made peace with people, with animals, in the Church, and within civil society. This peace grew out of his honesty about his relationship to God, others, and himself. Before seeking peace with people and creation around him, Francis had to find peace within himself. That was a challenge faced with times of deep prayer.

In his time, the peace that Francis showed with birds, wolves, lambs, larks, and worms reminded his contemporaries that Adam and Eve lived in total harmony with all creatures before they were sent from the Garden of Eden. The serpent in the Garden of Eden promised Eve and Adam knowledge and power that would equal God’s, but the serpent’s promise was worthless.

Women and men suffering from leprosy were perhaps the most universally despised social group in Francis’ day. The Lord led Francis to recognize them as his brothers and sisters. His respect for them as equals in God’s creation brought peace to these afflicted ones. Peace is both a wonderful and a much-abused word. Because we seek peace constantly, it has many counterfeits. For example, peace at any price always yields no peace at a very steep price.

Francis promoted peace among his friars, among the Poor Clares, among the Secular Franciscans, among all people. Thomas of Celano writes that the immensely popular Francis “seemed to be a man of another world” (First Life, 36). Francis called people back into the peace and harmony of a world into which God had created the human family and which was as fragile in Francis’ day as it is in our own.

Peace is a gift from God. Human actions that cooperate with God’s grace activate peace in the world. On October 27, 1986, St. John Paul II invited leaders of world religions to Assisi to pray and fast there for the sake of world peace. At the concluding prayer service, the pope called those present and everyone who would hear or read his words to be “artisans of peace.” Francis of Assisi was certainly an artisan of peace.

Earlier the same pope had designated Francis as the patron of ecology. Francis learned to appreciate God’s gift of natural resources, not to dominate them selfishly. All of creation pointed Francis toward God. He would have agreed with Dante Alighieri, who wrote in the Divine Comedy that over the gate of heaven is the affirmation, “In his will is our peace.”

“Peace be with you” echoed from Jesus’ life through the life of St. Francis of Assisi. We are called to allow it to reverberate through our lives as well.

 

Living as Francis Did

Peace is a work of justice; it does not come about by a display of superior strength or military might. In fact, it can be argued that those who “live among social outcasts, among the poor and helpless, the sick and the lepers, and those who beg by the wayside” most truly effect the cause of peace and justice by changing society at its very roots: its people.

 

Growing with Francis

Make a sign of peace today in some small way. Help to effect a change in the world with an act of justice and love.


My fellow friar, Mark Soehner, has more to say on the subject of St. Francis and peace.

Comments

Arlene B. Muller
Wed, 01/19/2022 - 08:20 AM
Arlene B. Muller
Excellent blog post bringing us back to the central message of the Gospel & the Franciscan spirit. Ultimately the most important step toward peace is for each one of us to be at peace with GOD & to follow in His ways. If we truly have a right relationship with GOD, then we will learn to have a right relationship with one another & with all of Creation. St. Francis realized that it is because GOD is our loving Father & His only Son JESUS CHRIST came to live among as our brother as well as our LORD & to save us, then all of the LORD'S Creation can be perceived as our brothers & sisters & we can seek a relationship of mutual respect & empathetic listening & understanding of all sides in seeking righteousness & peaceful cooperation with each other in doing GOD'S will.
Arlene B. Muller
Wed, 01/19/2022 - 08:40 AM
Arlene B. Muller
Regarding the video, I agree that our sharing of our faith needs to be done with an attitude of respect & charity. This is in agreement with the directive of St. Peter. It still might be necessary to defend our beliefs & we ARE called to evangelize & make disciples of all nations, but as far as it is possible we should treat everyone with charity & respect. I am glad the friar clarified that we do not resort to moral relativism. Regarding war and the death penalty, I tend to agree with St. Pope John Paul II rather than Pope Francis. The death penalty & war are to be reserved as last resorts when there is no other way to protect innocent people from violent aggressors. The primary role of government is to protect the safety, security & freedom of its law abiding citizens & to protect the innocent & vulnerable. To the extent that is possible we should seek righteousness & justice & protect the innocent by nonviolent means. But there are rare instances when this is not possible & war is a last resort. Case in point: where would this world be if the US & the Allied forces had not engaged in war with Adof Hitler & his Nazi regime? Jews, Christians & all non Aryans & all who disagreed with the Holocaust & Hitler's crazed plan of world domination would have continued to be killed & the world would have been overtaken be evil that we would have allowed to triumph. Most conflicts are not that extreme & can be settled by peaceful means, but we are wrong if we cave in to evil & violent aggressors & oppressors.
MaryMargaret
Wed, 01/19/2022 - 03:13 PM
MaryMargaret
NO
ted boczkowski OFS
Wed, 01/19/2022 - 02:50 PM
ted boczkowski OFS
Thank you for the return to the Franciscan message. The previous two columns demonstrate how easy it is to incite discord among others under the guise of a cause or agenda, that may or may not be valid. It is much more difficult to promote change and conversion in a peaceful and loving manner. Yet, isn't that what we are called to do?

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