Instruments of Peace
By Dr. Becky Towne, Academic Dean and Professor of Christian Spirituality, Houston Graduate School of Theology
This semester, I am teaching an online class titled Theological Foundations of Christian Spirituality. The focus is to review major biblical doctrines and explore ways to live out those sets of beliefs more fully, in obedience to Jesus. This discipline is called spiritual theology.
To lay the foundations of spiritual theology, the class begins by reviewing biblical understandings of this discipline and then historical foundations. One of the historical figures reviewed was Francis of Assisi, who is traditionally considered the author of the Prayer of Peace. However, the earliest known publication of the prayer was in 1912, written in French. Whoever the original author, the words have impacted me for a long time. In fact, I learned a choral piece, based on the prayer, in college, and my husband and I sang a duet version of the prayer during our wedding. That was almost 43 years ago.
The words of the prayer still speak directly into American culture wars in 2019. I encourage you not only to read the words but to allow them to speak into your life as a way to assess your words and actions in the current political and cultural climate. Believers in Jesus are consecrated, set apart, for the work of the kingdom, with a different approach to life than we see in many political and cultural approaches. Perhaps the words of this prayer will help each of us better understand how spiritual theology is at play in our lives and communities—how we are living out what we think we believe so that beliefs and actions will be in sync. Reflection on this prayer continues to be a great spiritual exercise for me, and I hope it will be for you as well.
Following is an English translation of the French text, thanks to Wikipedia:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offense, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love, for it is in giving that one receives, it is in self-forgetting that one finds, it is in pardoning that one is pardoned, it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.
(For a prayer that is definitely written by Saint Francis, see Canticle of the Sun.)