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Instrument of Thy Peace

Posted May 17, 2024 in Religious Institutions
Rev. Dr. John F. Ross, Executive Director

He was barely 40 years old when he died, yet every practicing Catholic knows his name and can likely recite one of his well-known quotes or tell one of the many compelling stories from his life.  Born to wealthy merchants Pietro and Pica Bernardone, his baptismal name was Giovanni but eventually was changed to Francesco in hopes of endearing French business associates.

Francis, as he is commonly referred to, spent his affluent youth pleasure-seeking and enjoying the spoils of wealth.  He spent a brief time in the military as a knight and was captured for a year as a prisoner of war, but multiple illnesses, the deaths of his friends at war, and recurring dreams dissuaded him from this path.  Called by what he believed to be the very voice of God to “…repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin.” Francis attempted to literally repair the church building using his father’s money and materials.

Incensed by his son’s irresponsible and irrational behavior, Bernardone dragged Francis home, beat him, bound him, and locked him in a closet.  Eventually, set free by his mother and disowned by his father, Francis returned to the chapel of St. Damian’s and began what would become the Franciscan Order.  Over the next 800+ years, many conflicting and complicated stories would be told of St. Francis of Assisi but his words still echo across the ages.

Here are a few of the familiar quotes credited to St. Francis:

All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.

“I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, he can work through anyone.”

“It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.”

And the 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.”

In this issue of Sharing the Word is a celebration of the 10th anniversary of a Heritage Edition arriving at the Franciscan Renewal Center (aka The Casa) in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Retreat centers are a powerful context within which a Heritage Edition can truly shine and be fully leveraged for the beauty it offers the world.

On behalf of the Heritage Program, I want to thank our friends at The Casa for their good stewardship over the past ten years.  They truly put into practice another one of my favorite St. Francis quotes: “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary, use words.”

Special thanks to Executive Director, Charlie Brown and SJB Docent-extraordinaire, Marge Woods.

John Ross signature 

Rev. Dr. John F. Ross, Executive Director 

The Saint John’s Bible Heritage Program 

Rev. Dr. John F. Ross, Executive Director
Rev. Dr. John F. Ross, Executive Director