Today is the feast day for St. Francis of Assisi (c. 1182-1226). He’s one of the most dearly loved figures in all of church history. People admire him for many reasons—his dedication to the poor, his love of animals, and even the stigmata he received late in his life. But his commitment to peace is a quality we would do well to notice. There’s the well-known prayer attributed to him which begins, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”
The last part goes as follows:
“O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
I’m especially struck by the line in which Francis prays not so much “to be understood as to understand.” He would rather understand than be understood. What a world this would be if we all had that kind of determination! Imagine how our political landscape would be altered. Imagine how the church would be. We might actually start listening to each other!