“May the Lord give you Peace“
– St. Francis of Assisi
One model of Franciscan peacemaking is demonstrated in the story told by the early Franciscans of how St. Francis brought reconciliation to the people of the town of Gubbio who were terrorised by a wolf. He did this, not by banishing the wolf, but by having the people feed the animal so that the needs of all were met. To read more about this, click on the ‘St Francis & the Wolf of Gubbio‘ link below.
His meeting with the Sultan of Egypt shows how Francis’ manner of relating to people was different: Francis came in peace in stark contrast to the Crusaders laying siege to Alexandria, against whom the Sultan’s armies were fighting.
Peaceful to all
St. Francis urged his followers always to be courteous and to avoid quarrels. The peace that St. Francis promoted was not merely an absence of violence but an actively non-violent way of life. It reached out in love to others, especially to those who are poor and who live on the margins of society. In St. Francis’ time lepers were those most shunned, and it was to lepers that he turned first to bring the message of peace and love. No one and no thing is excluded from St. Francis’ Peace which he believed was the Peace of the Lord God Himself.
The Promotion of Peace
Before being God’s gift to man and a human project in conformity with the pine plan, peace is in the first place a basic attribute of God: “the Lord is peace” (Judges 6:24). Creation, which is a reflection of the divine glory, aspires to peace. God created all that exists, and all of creation forms a harmonious whole that is good in its every part (cf. Genesis 1:4,10,18,21,25,31). Peace is founded on the primary relationship that exists between every human being and God himself, a relationship marked by righteousness (cf. Genesis 17:1). Following upon the voluntary act by which man altered the divine order, the world experienced the shedding of blood and division. Violence made its appearance in interpersonal relationships (cf. Genesis 4:1-16) and in social relationships (cf. Genesis 11:1-9). Peace and violence cannot dwell together, and where there is violence, God cannot be present (cf. Chronicles 22:8-9). From: paragraph 488, Compendium of Catholic Social Teaching (Social Doctrine of the Church)
Read about how contemporary Christians and Muslims are seeking mutual understanding through local dialogue facilitated by a Franciscan initiative called the Damietta Initiative.
A Franciscan Prayer for Peace
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
Where there is sadness, joy.
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.