Dear Friends of the Redeemer,
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.
--A Prayer of St. Francis
Helpless. That is how I felt this morning when Faye woke me to the news of the invasion of Ukraine. A world away the great American enemy of my childhood, Russia, had once again made war on her neighbors. I thought of my Polish friends who still bear the scars of Russia's "influence." I thought of my distant Czech relatives on my father's side and wondered what they might be thinking. I thought of the men, women and children fleeing their homes in those eastern provinces being swallowed in Russia's reclamation of lands lost in the dissolution of the USSR. And I felt so helpless and in my helplessness I felt anger. But thanks be to God, I was reminded of the prayer that always finds me in my helplessness from the pen of St. Francis of Assisi. "Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace..."
While I cannot bring peace or a solution to what is happening in Ukraine or Russia, I can be reminded of those things all around me which are in need of peacemaking. Hatred, injury, doubt, despair, darkness and sadness? These were here long before this morning's terrible news. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and the God-given grace of my baptism love, pardon, faith, hope, light and joy are God's own weapons to meet them all. These I have in bountiful surplus! I need only pick them up, and so I am not helpless in the least.
And when we have finally exhausted all these weapons of God towards which St. Francis has beckoned and the Holy Spirit has gifted, I am reminded of Origen's words in Contra Celcus, "He [God] makes Himself known to those who, after doing all that their powers will allow, confess that they need help from Him..." When we have exhausted St. Francis's prayer, have faith, friends, that when we turn to God for help in our helplessness, God will make Godself known. And that, friends, is all we will ever need.
In Hope, Peacemaking and Prayer,