When I was growing up, we never asked if we were going to Mass on the weekend, the only question was when. This stayed with me throughout college when most of my friends stopped going. I recall often saying at the end of our Fraternity Chapter meetings on Sunday afternoons, “I’m going to St. Thomas for the 7pm mass if anyone wants to join.” I rarely had any takers, but found comfort in going to those evening services and faith helped keep me somewhat centered during some crazy times in college.

Today, I went to the 10am Mass at St. Leo’s and the cantor sang one of my favorite hymns during the collection, The Prayer of St. Francis (Lyrics below):

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 light,
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

O 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.

O Master grant that I may never seek,
So much to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
And to love 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.

Oftentimes prayer is characterized as a way of asking for something. For example, “Dear God, please heal [insert name her] from what afflicts him/her. I promise to…” This prayer, though, is different. It basically says, “Help me live the way your Son taught.” To not ask for consolation, but to give it. To not ask for forgiveness, but to offer it. To not have others serve me, but to be of service to others without asking for anything in return.

I’ll be honest, this is aspirational for me. I struggle with it. Oftentimes I give of myself but do want reciprocation–something in return. I get frustrated when things aren’t fair; perhaps that’s human nature but this prayer reminds us that there’s freedom in the form of the peace that comes when we don’t expect anything in return for a service performed.

I think about how divided our country has become over the past few decades and wonder what would happen if we all said the words above to ourselves everyday. Would we remain divided, or would we look to serve each other, even those we might disagree with?

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