My friend John Becton has posted on social media the text of a prayer attributed to Saint 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;
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.
John and I, along with fellow members of the Chamber Singers of United Church of Chapel Hill, NC, will sing Michael John Trotta’s musical setting of this beautiful prayer in the church’s 8:45 a.m. service next Sunday, Jan. 29. On that day, United Church church will welcome to its pulpit the Rev. Matthew Crebbin, senior pastor of Newtown, CT, United Church of Christ. Rev. Crebbin comforted families as they waited to hear if their children were among those gunned down at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Dec. 14, 2012. Since then, he has dedicated himself and his ministry to the prevention of violence, particularly gun violence.
The prayer is commonly attributed to St. Francis (Giovanni de Bernadone), who lived from 1182 to 1226, but in its present form, the prayer can’t be located any earlier than 1912, when it appeared in a small French magazine called La Clochette. For a century now, people around the world have drawn inspiration and strength from it. I can’t think of a more appropriate time than now for us to reflect on it and to conduct our lives according to its teachings.