Friday, January 23, 2009
St. Francis Bites the Dust
Nothing sucks the fun out of life faster, or more efficiently, than a well-placed article in l'Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Vatican. Today is no exception.
It turns out that the St. Francis Prayer:
Lord, make me a channel of thy peace;
that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
that where there is error, I may bring truth;
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;
to understand, than to be understood;
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.
is a fraud. Remember when they announced that St. Christopher was a fraud, too? You gotta love Catholicism whose motto seems to be "Believe what we tell you or you will spend eternity in hell!!!!! Until we tell you otherwise, after which all bets are off." Oh, and by the way Galileo, we were wrong. SOOORRRYYYYY!!!.
With such a laissez-faire attitude, it's a wonder anyone bothers to believe anything the Church tells us when it'll all be repealed in a couple of hundred years with a shrug of the shoulders and a big, "Oh well, shit happens!" from whoever happens to be in charge then.
This is one case, however, where I don't really care that the prayer ascribed to Francis of Assisi wasn't actually written by him.
And the reason for that is that it's a wonderful prayer. No matter who uttered it first.
In my particular 12-Step Program, an essay on our 11th Step quotes the entire prayer. The 11th Step, for the uninitiated, states that we will "Try through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out." It's a pretty tall order. And it's just about the only way we recovering drunks can stay sober.
This prayer has helped millions of recovering drunks to stay focused on the most important things in our lives, i.e. our need to be spiritually dependent upon a power greater than ourselves and the importance of reaching out to help other recovering alcholics as a way of avoiding self-centeredness. For it is by "self-forgetting" that one finds.
Hey! It's working for me. Unlike religion.