I made my first trip to Argentina in 1990. Although I took one year of Spanish in college in 1967, I was far from fluent, so I carried a small pocket dictionary. After a 15-hour flight from St. Louis through Miami, my clothes were quite wrinkled. The first word I learned from that dictionary was ‘planchar,’ to iron.
I became fond of saying that Argentines are Italians who speak Spanish who want to be British. How’s that for prejudice! I thoroughly enjoyed my business associates in Buenos Aires, but the boss’s business ethics were somewhat different than mine were. Driving through B.A., he was constantly ‘crossing’ himself. “What are you doing?” I asked. He would nod to his left or to his right and answer, “We are passing a church.” His persistent self-blessing did not prevent him from taking advantage of his countrymen for his personal financial gain. Of course, I concluded that my Argentine associates were no different from my other business contacts around the world….
Familiar with Argentina, I was pleasantly surprised when Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope on March 13, 2013, and even more pleased when he selected as his papal name Franciscus, Francis in honor of Francis of Assisi, the one-time Italian nobleman who gave up everything to serve the poor. One year ago, we posted on heroes and I offered mine
- Jesus Christ
- John Paul II
- Mahatma Gandhi
- Mother Teresa
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
I can say with certainty that Francis of Assisi would be included in the next five, most likely in the sixth position.
Earlier today, I wrote a letter to a young friend of mine who is struggling with some issues in his life. He is no different from any of us. We all confront our dragons each and every day. Of all the things I could have said to my young friend, I limited my response to a single suggestion: make the prayer of St. Francis a part of your life and a part of those whose lives who influence.
I ask you, loyal reader or person who just stumbled across this post on this site, is there a better way to begin your day than with this prayer?
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, let me sow pardon.
Where there is doubt, let be sow faith.
Where there is despair, let me sow hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
Lord, grant that I might seek rather to comfort, than to be comforted
to understand, than to be understood
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by giving that one receives.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying to self that one is born to eternal life.
If there is, please let me know. If you agree with me, then I encourage you to start your day with the commitment to make your life and the lives of everyone you touch, better. What St. Francis prays can be of great benefit to the world IF we take it to heart with meaning and conviction.
I am convinced that Pope Francis would not have chosen the name of the one from Assisi if he was not prepared and committed to following in his footsteps. I look forward to the positive influence Pope Francis will bring to our troubled and searching world. Francis of Assisi followed in the footsteps of the One. Nothing could lead him from his path.
Join me in the same conviction. Make Francis’s prayer a part of your life every day. The world will be a better place for it.