Finding Peace in the Midst Chaos with St. Francis of Assisi
By Karen C. Riobo
Our peace has been disturbed; we have felt anxiety, despair, hopelessness, even anger. These emotions have been naturally triggered directly or have intensified by the current events that surround us. Our world and country are in chaos. A pandemic has left us mourning family and friends, losing a job, a house, adjusting to a sudden change of pace, working from home, using technology more than usual, wearing a mask, not hugging people while deciding on the presidential future of our country. While I do not know your specific situation, you can rest assured that we are all going through it too.
As Christians, we are called to "casting all your worries upon him because he cares for you. Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent, the devil, is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little. To him, be dominion forever. Amen.” 1Peter 5, 7-11
Peter is urging us to cast all of our sufferings upon God; He cares for us, He will restore, strengthen, and lift us. All of this is God's promise to us, and He keeps His promises. I do not know about you, but these troubled past months have made me desire Heaven a little more. I am not saying that I want to meet Jesus soon but work on building the Kingdom and walking the extra mile to make sure I get to Heaven more intentionally.
During the lockdown, I realized that there is nothing we could have done in our power to change the situation. All we had left was our faith in God. This gave me a deeper understanding of the fact that we can only control our will. We can not control others or nature.
St. Francis of Assisi and the key to finding peace.
Saints faced the most challenging scenarios, civil wars, pandemics, persecution, corrupt systems of government. We are encouraged by how they witnessed the faith in a full surrender of their sufferings in exchange for God's peace, hope, and strength. The Apostles and Saints complied with the greatest commands of all, every day.
...The first is this: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord, our God, is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." Mark 12, 29-31
St. Francis of Assisi was attributed to one of the most famous prayers we know to date. Not only because the musical arrangement is pleasant, but because we are called radically to surrender our ego, to bend our will, shift the focus on ourselves, and become available to God and others when they need us. These commands are rightly ordered. First, I love God above all; only He is Lord. He fills me and sustains me, and keeps me in His Love. I can then serve others from that place of gratitude and being loved by God the Father.
Francis understood these commandments early on and left everything behind to imitate Christ and be Christ to the poorest of the poor. He kept close to those whom no one wanted around, the lepers. His love for Jesus was so explicit that he preached the gospel to every creature and even preached to animals. St. Francis of Assisi lived through the church's overuse of power and lost credibility. Many would worship Jesus at Mass, but few indeed followed His teaching or example. The Lord asked Francis to rebuild His Church. He listened to the Lord’s request and fought against sin through his life of humble and fearless obedience to Jesus. His way of life keeps inspiring Christians for generations. We can say that His peace came from Jesus through selfless service to others.
Below is the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.
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
And 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
And it's in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it's in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
This prayer sets a standard of life, not always easy, but attainable. By focusing on God's mercy and love, we can have peace. I think about Francis being around the lepers, knowing that he might catch the disease, but Francis trusted in God's protection and gave hope, faith, and love to the poorest of the poor. He was able to go on and fulfill his mission in the peace of the Lord.
When we dwell on our anxiety too much, we give it power, and all that attention only intensifies it. The call is to focus on the task at hand because God will take care of everything.
We were made for relationship and this way of life can help us keep healthy ones. Let us ask St. Francis of Assisi for his powerful intercession so that we can rebuild our church and country by humbly serving and loving each other. Let us answer the call and share the hope our world desperately needs starting from a vulnerable relationship with Jesus.
Lord, let me be a beacon of your peace.
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