Chapter 1: The Quest for Pura Vida

Prayer of St. Francis

So I know it will probably technically be October 5th when I post this, but for the record, I’m writing this on October 4th, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi.  I wouldn’t have known today was the feast day of St. Francis, except my Spanish teacher mentioned it in class yesterday.  There’s an interesting cultural myth in that October 4th is called “el cordonazo de San Francisco (the cord of St. Francis)” because it generally rains buckets in Costa Rica today.  In reality, this is because we’re in the middle of the rainiest part of the rainy season, but according to legend, it’s because St. Francis hits the clouds with the cord from his habit to make it rain.  As a side-note, it did not rain more than the normal amount today.  Apparently there was a torment last year, so maybe St. Francis’ arms are still sore from that.  As a side-side-note, I think there’s leeway for the storm to happen a couple of days before or after the feast day, so there’s still a chance.

St. Francis lived during the turn of the 13th century and was a stereotypical rich youth doing stereotypical-rich-youth things when, through his travels, he developed a deep compassion for the poor.  He made the decision to let go of his wealth and live in complete poverty, alienating his family and previous life in the process.  He traveled and spread his views, eventually starting the Catholic Order of Franciscan monks and the Order of Poor Clares for women.  He did some activist things and eventually ended up devoting his life to organizing and running the Orders he had founded.  St. Francis was the first to receive the stigmata, Christ’s wounds on his own body through inexplicable means.

Don’t quote me–I’m no Wikipedia.

Anyway, the point is, this man is an influential figure in the history of the Catholic Church and actually the namesake of the current pope.  Lately, mentions of St. Francis have been crossing my path more frequently than coincidence allows for, reminding me of my favorite hymn, which has been my favorite since before I even realized the song titled “Prayer of St. Francis” connected to an actual person.  I memorized the words a long time ago, and it is something that re-centers me when I can’t decipher myself or anyone around me, much less handle decisions.

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your love,
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord,
And where there’s doubt, true faith in you.

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope,
Where there is darkness, only life,
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

Oh Master, grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console,
To be understood, as to understand,
To be loved, as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
In giving of ourselves that we receive,
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

I’ve never found a recording I like better than the sound of my voice almost completely buried in the mostly-out-of-tune voices surrounding me in Mass, but here’s a link if you want to hear the tune.

The Prayer of St. Francis is a prayer that echoes the simple instructions we were given by a God who became a man, a man who lived the words he preached.

  1. Love the Lord your God
    with all your heart
    with all your soul
    and with all your mind.
  2. Love your neighbor
    as yourself.

Simple instructions, but the trick is learning to follow them, learning to follow them as a privileged young man from Italy once did.


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