The call to be peace makers is strong in the teachings and lives of Jesus and St. Francis of Assisi. Francis gave a greeting of peace to everyone, reconciled feuding leaders, made a visit to Sultan Malek al-Kamil of Egypt during the Fifth Crusade, and advised his followers to be sure they had peace in their own hearts before calling others to peace and reconciliation.
Because conflict and violence takes many different forms in our world, there are multiple ways for Franciscans to pursue peace, both locally in their families and communities and in the larger world of nation, globe, church and different cultures and religions. FAN promotes peace by offering resources on civil dialogue, working for legislation to reduce gun violence, and addressing arms issues such as nuclear weapons. We have recently developed a relationship with Muslim film production company, Unity Productions Foundation (UPF) to foster, educate and promote respectful dialogue with Muslim communities through a docu-drama called “The Sultan and the Saint.” For more information on this project, click here.
Too often we think there are only two ways to respond to differences, conflict, threats and violence: flight or fight. Some say it is instinctive. However, “flight” through denial, avoidance and passivity only serves to perpetuate the situation and the injustice. Moreover, responding with “fight” through vengeful, aggressive and violent actions fuels the destructive cycle.
There is another alternative: choosing to think and act in ways that resolve conflict in a peaceful manner that reveres the truth in us all. This alternative is the way of active nonviolence and peacemaking. It is grounded in respect for the dignity of each human being and the awareness that “we are all tied in a single garment of destiny,” as Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently stated. It calls us to transform our “us vs. them” ways of thinking and acting.
The way of active nonviolence and peacemaking requires us to be open to learning from the experience of others. It means engaging with others in the search for truth and it may require letting go of some of our own ways of thinking and acting. It involves discovering and creating ways of working for the common good with means consistent with the ends. It is a way available to individuals and the collective, to ordinary people and to leaders of nations as well.
Resources on Active Nonviolence and Peacemaking
- Institute for Peace and Justice: www.ipj-ppj.org/
- Nonviolent Peace Force: www.nonviolentpeaceforce.org/
- Pace a Bene: www.paceebene.org/
- Pax Christi USA: www.paxchristiusa.org/
- Peace Action: www.peace-action.org/
- USIP (United States Institute of Peace): www.usip.org/
- Voices for Creative Nonviolence: www.vcnv.org/
- Franciscan Peace Center: www.ClintonFranciscans.com
Peace Prayer of St. Francis
This popular peace prayer is often attributed to (but not actually written by) St. Francis of Assisi:
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;
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,
In pardoning that we are pardoned,
And in dying that we are born to eternal life.