St. Francis Novena – Day 6
St. Francis Novena | Day Six: Peace
FR. JEFF SCHEELER, OFM
Though he probably didn’t write it, the Peace Prayer attributed to St. Francis captures much of his spirit. He spent time and energy being an “instrument of peace.” He sought to reconcile.
As a young man, Francis aspired to knightly glory, to participate in great battles. He did fight against the neighboring city of Perugia. We don’t know for sure, but he may have killed some of the enemy. Assisi lost the battle, and Francis spent about a year as a prisoner of war. When he came home, sick and perhaps suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, he was a different man. He knew there had to be something better. He prayed in the caves around Assisi. And his conversion began. From one who wanted fame and glory, he changed to someone dedicated to building bridges and promoting reconciliation, by being a brother to everyone he encountered.
There is a wonderful story about a hungry wolf from Gubbio, which was terrorizing the town. Francis talked to the wolf and promised that the people would feed him if he would stop his vicious attacks. Francis prevailed and reconciled the hungry wolf and the fearful people.
There was a time when the bishop and mayor of Assisi were at odds with each other. He called them together and sang his “Canticle of Creation,” but he added a special verse: “Praised be you my Lord, for those who give pardon for love of you, and bear infirmity and tribulation. Blessed are those who endure in peace, for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.” The bishop and the mayor were moved to reconcile.
Francis lived during the time of the Crusades, when Christians were fighting the Muslims to regain the Holy Land. It was a bloody mess and a time when the opponents often demonized one another. Francis had another approach. He made his way to Damietta, in Egypt, where he risked entering the camp of Sultan Malik al-Kamil. For days they dialogued and grew in esteem for one another. The Sultan gave Francis safe passage and gifts, and Francis came back home enriched in many ways. He later wrote a prayer called the “Praises of God,” which many see as inspired by the Islamic prayer invoking the 99 names of God. He called for bells to ring to call people to prayer, which many see as inspired by the Islamic call to prayer. Instead of war and bloodshed, he sought understanding and dialogue.
Our lives are not easy either. Sometimes our relationships get messy and distanced. There are moments when we are hurt and are tempted to retaliate. We say and do things we regret.
Let Us Pray
Gracious God: I thank you for the example and inspiration of Francis. In my little piece of the world, may I do whatever I can to build bridges, to reconcile, and to be an instrument of your peace.
(Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM, is the pastor of Church of the Transfiguration in Southfield, Michigan.)
Pray the Novena to St. Francis of Assisi
Read by Fr. Murray Bodo, OFM
St. Francis suffered great illness and was often thought disturbed by the townspeople of Assisi including his own family. You can post your prayer intentions to him on our Prayer page.
The Novena to St. Francis of Assisi
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Poor and humble Saint Francis, through your kind intercession we seek to love God above all things. We seek the faith, hope and love that moved you to joyfully renounce honors and riches and to radically follow our Lord Jesus Christ.
Pray for us that we come to see the privilege of suffering with and for the poor after the example of Jesus. Help us to be always grateful for all the blessings we have received and give us the strength to overcome our most pressing concerns.
(Include your personal intentions now.)
Holy St. Francis, through your prayers, may we be blessed with the desire to give all of our strength and abilities towards serving God’s purpose in our lives. May our lives be filled with complete faith and the hope of spending eternity with the Most High, all-powerful good God.
St. Francis, help us to continue praying for the grace to truly repent and change our hearts by actively seeking reconciliation with God and all those we have offended or hurt in any way. May the blessings we receive through your intercession deepen our faith, and inspire us to store up treasures in Heaven, where we hope to spend eternity with our loving God.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen
St. Francis of Assisi, Pray for us!
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
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Fr. Murray Bodo, OFM, is a writer and poet. He invites you to discover the gospel life of St. Francis in, The Simple Way: Mediations on the Words of St. Francis, available at Franciscan Media.
Videos and articles on St. Francis at Franciscan Media.
We follow Jesus in the footsteps of St. Francis, learn more at Franciscan.org