Grant that I may not so much seek, to be consoled as to console
I am preparing a class on the St. Francis prayer. This prayer while not necessarily straight from St. Francis is a portrait of the life he led. This was his life. From the moment he saw his first vision until his death he lived the words of this prayer. He was and still is a vibrant example of the gospel life. While this prayer may or may not be original with St. Francis it describes not only who St. Francis was, but also what a life following Christ really looks like.
I would like to reflect on each line. I have posted my thoughts on this prayer once before and you can find that blog here: https://godwrestler.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/a-personal-look-at-the-st-francis-prayer/
I may even write a book based on this prayer.
We are now moving into the second half of this prayer. In the second half, the prayer goes deeper into what it means to pray and live the first seven imperatives. The eighth line of this prayer is asking that we console others above and before we are consoled. As we console others, we ourselves find the same thing that we offering to others. It also helps us to step out of personal woe and meet others in their brokenness seeking healing for one another. The eighth line of the St. Francis Prayer is about being a presence of God’s love and grace to a broken, dark world perishing. It’s not about dying for others but to be a living presence for others who are struggling. There will be times when praying this prayer that we need God’s love, hope, and peace in our life, as much if not more than we want to share these aspects of the Kingdom with others. God won’t zap us with these attitudes, but will give us moments in which to experience them in our life and the lives around us.
God will lead us to opportunities to console others, to bring God’s love, grace, hope, and peace to others. We need to step up and offer to others what we seek. If you seek to be consoled than console others, find people who need to know that God loves them and love them, find people who need God’s grace and extend it to them, find people who need peace and hope and be that to someone. Mother Teresa once advised someone who thought they were alone in the world and show them that God loves them, that they are cared for, that they belong.
I try to be a person who does this in my personal encounters with people and to my friends online. I try to be a person who points others to God’s love, grace, hope, and peace. I don’t do this all the time, sometimes I don’t feel like doing it or I slip and say the wrong thing or I think of myself before others. I am not proud of that, but it is true. I can be selfish. I said it, it’s true, but I am better at being a person who seeks to help others before myself, who sees the other with a kind-heart and includes everyone, who lives out the St. Francis Prayer than I used to be. I need and ask Jesus to guide, save, redeem, and show me the way.
The world is full of chaos, pain, agony, and loss. People are in pain and wondering if the is a reason or purpose to the chaos and pain. Yet, if we refuse to give into that and stretch towards love and grace, we will find a way not only to go on, but also a way to be better than we used to be, way to help others. With this line, we ask for the ability to console people in pain and to show others the love and grace of God. We ask that we live by faith and grace helping others do the same, that we are present to others brokenness and lead them to healing. J.R.R. Tolkien said, “For myself, I find I become less cynical rather than more–remembering my own sins and follies; and realize that men’s hearts are not often as bad as their acts, and very seldom as bad as their words.”
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