A Prayer From Paris

My favorite city in the world is Paris – always has been and always will be. So it’s been painful to watch the events of the last few days and the attack on that beautiful city. The terrorist attacks didn’t occur in some remote and unknown place but in a location I’m familiar with. The coordinated events of last Friday evening were more than just an assault on the city of Paris. There are evil people in this world who do evil things. It was yet another reminder that there are great battles going on in our world today.
It’s also been painful to watch the reactions of some people. I know our immediate reactions are often impulsive and poorly thought out…however, sometimes they reveal what is in our hearts. I am most disappointed with the way many Christians view the situation, especially as I read comments on various social media forums.
It’s easy to go for the simple answer. To solve problems, we like clear solutions. We like to put things in black and white. But the world is not so easy. Labelling others because of their ethnicity or religion is really a way of dehumanizing them. Grouping people into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories is seldom accurate or helpful.
Perhaps this is an occasion to look deep within ourselves. Perhaps we should stop and consider what role we are playing in this world. Let’s stop name-calling and finger-pointing for a few moments. Let’s check our own hearts first.
In December of 1912, a small devotional French publication, La Clochette, located in a parish of Paris, published a written prayer. There was no mention of who wrote the prayer, but a couple of years later, during World War 1, it was sent to the Pope who had it more widely published. During those years of great conflict and death, many people prayed these now familiar words. In the 1920s, a French priest printed the prayer on the back of an image of St. Francis. Since that time, the prayer has been known as the Prayer of St. Francis.
It’s a prayer that comes from Paris, and before I try to solve the world’s problems, it seemed appropriate to pray this first:
Lord, make me an instrument of thy 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;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

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