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The Rockin' Rev October 2020


A life of simplicity

An anonymous text, sometimes called the “Peace Prayer” is widely known today even though it was written many centuries ago. It has been frequently set to music and was sung at the funeral service of Princess Diana. Its broadly inclusive language has found appeal with diverse faiths encouraging sacrificial service to others:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And 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.

The prayer is attributed to, and most often associated with, Saint Francis of Assisi despite it being entirely absent from his writings
The life of Saint Francis spanned the end of the twelfth and beginning of the thirteenth centuries. He was born into a very wealthy family. He then went to the war between Assisi and Perugia and was taken prisoner
By the time of his release, Francis had changed. Perhaps his own suffering had awakened him to that of others. Then, after what he called his ‘conversion’ to Christianity, Saint Francis and his followers, including his feminine counterpart St Claire, prayed and worked for a life of simplicity
The 20th century witnessed a revival of interest in Francis. Sadly, he is often caricatured as a sentimental nature-lover or a hippie drop out from society. This ignores the real sternness of his character, and his all-pervasive love of God and identification with Christ’s sufferings, which alone makes sense of his life
Francis saw that many poor people seemed to live happier and more fulfilling lives than the ambitious rich. He spoke of a simple life not shaped by money or power but by love and mutual concern
Of course, poverty; in our modern western world is seldom a matter of blissful simplicity. For too many it is a matter of poor diet, over-crowded rooms, rough sleeping and unemployment. The call of today’s followers of Francis and Claire is that those who are better-off should ‘live more simply, so that others can simply live’
St Francis is remembered by the Church of England on 4th October


Rev Brian Hall

Vicar, St Andrew’s Church


also published by St Andrew's Church in the Gorleston Community Magazine


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