The “Peace Prayer” or the “Prayer of St. Francis” is one of Christianity’s most well-known prayers. It’s prayed at Catholic mass, in religious services and in private devotions by millions of believers around the world. But the history of the prayer is murky. One of the few things we do know is that it wasn’t actually written by St. Francis.
The earliest historical record of the prayer is found in the December 1912 edition of the French devotional magazine La Clochette, where it’s referred to as a “beautiful prayer to say during mass.” The most likely author was the magazine’s editor, Father Esther Bouquerel. But the prayer was a hit with the faithful, and millions turned to it as a way to cope with the horrors of the first world war.
Over the years, the Prayer of St. Francis has been a favorite of religious and political leaders. Spiritual heavyweights like Mother Teresa and South Africa’s Anglican archbishop, Desmond Tutu, made it part of their daily devotional practices. And in the political sphere, it’s been quoted by Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and most recently, President Joe Biden in his speech following his electoral college victory on December 14.
Even though he didn’t write it, the Peace Prayer is an honest reflection of Francis’ outlook on life. It asks us to care for each other and creation, and it’s a reminder of God’s desire for us to act as instruments of peace in the world.
PRAYER OF ST. FRANCIS
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.
FOR ADDITIONAL READING: See The Life and Prayers of Saint Francis of Assisi by Wyatt North.
Some more inspirational nuggets for today:
- Today is the birthday of the American televangelist Oral Roberts in 1918. Roberts was a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, but he’s most remembered for his TV ministry and for founding the university that bears his name. In January 1987, Roberts locked himself in a tower and declared that unless he raised $8 million by March, God would “call him home.” Fearing he intended to starve himself to death if he didn’t meet his fundraising goal, supporters helped him raise $9 million. But his ministry was plagued with scandals and one obituary noted that even during financially difficult periods, Roberts, “continued to wear his Italian silk suits, diamond rings and gold bracelets,” which his staff routinely airbrushed out of his publicity photos.
- And on this day in 1984, Apple unveiled the Macintosh computer. It was the first personal computer sold without a programming language, and it helped launch Apple as one of the world’s premier technology brands. But Apple’s success involved more than its technology. Historians point out that its founder, Steve Jobs, intentionally wove religious rhetoric into Apple’s narrative, and used it to build a following of millions of brand loyalists. Jobs’ own religious background was complicated. He was raised Protestant, but abandoned Christianity when a Sunday School teacher couldn’t explain why God allowed suffering in the world. He later pursued spiritual insights in the ashrams of India and from the Zen masters of northern California. Jobs died in 2011, but Apple’s “spirit of technology” lives on.
And it’s the technology that’s bringing you this podcast. So, thanks, Steve. That’s today’s Spiritual Almanac.
Be kind, take good care and we’ll see you soon.