I never really thought about peace before. Not very deeply anyways. The first time I felt really drawn to the word and its meaning was within the last couple years when I read an e-mail from a friend who signed it Peace, Jean. It struck me as extremely profound the first time I read it from her. And subsequent e-mails from Jean have been read with great anticipation for that final message of Peace.
Another girlfriend, Shane, whom I more recently began corresponding with also signs her e-mails with PEACE. My relationship with Shane is currently blossoming and I have found that she and Jean have so much in common. In short they are both very beautiful, kind and gentle souls. They are also very confident and serious about their Faith and Peace seems to flow from them.
For me Peace has been more elusive and I pray really hard to God to have peace in my heart and in my family. I’m going to make a confession about my worst habit that causes my lack of peace. It is that I am extremely impatient and I am a yeller to my kids and husband. I very rarely swear but I yell. I would be embarrassed for Jean or Shane to know about this problem. I guess if they read this my secret is out.
Well, I took my major lack of peace problem directly to God at my holy hour of adoration one Sunday evening. Earlier that particular day the children were fighting and I was yelling and not understanding why we as an intact family don‘t have more peace even after we pray together so much as a family and attend Church together regularly and talk a lot about how to treat one another. I’m sure any psychologist that came and studied our family could pinpoint the problem immediately. Now that I think about it we did consult a child psychologist a few times as a family and he told my husband and I as parents to discipline with as little verbal communication as possible. That explains it for me I just talk too much and yell too much. I know what to do but I’m having a hard time doing it. So I sought God’s intervention at my holy hour.
God never disappoints. One of the first things I did at my holy hour as usual was I wrote the names of my family down on the daily intention sheet for each day of the following week. At the end of our six names I wrote the word Peace. Then I prayed to God to give me something concrete to help me know how to obtain peace. I browsed the book shelf and came across a small devotional book on St. Anthony of Padua. I read through the entire book. My hour quickly came to a close and as I walked out of Church I saw another friend, Lucy, and I couldn’t help but to say “have a peaceful night.” While at Church I didn’t feel that God had answered my prayer about how to obtain peace. But I wasn’t disappointed because I knew this much, prayer and silence gave me peace for the time I was there.
When I arrived home and began to get ready to go to bed a light bulb went on in my head. The Saint Francis of Assisi prayer had been in the St. Anthony book I had just read at my holy hour. The prayer begins, “Lord, Make me an instrument of your peace…“ It occurred to me that God did concretely answer my prayer for peace! The prayer showed me exactly what I needed to do to obtain peace. I was excited and thought about that prayer all the next day. I quickly forgot about it after that though because of the hustle and bustle of my family life. But God didn’t forget.
The next Sunday evening at my holy hour I was seeking a magazine for which I wanted to get the address so I could submit an article. I sifted through a plastic box full of little books and devotionals looking for the small publication. I found it and wrote down the address, put it back in the box and attempted to return the box. As I tried to shove the box back into place something behind it had fallen making it impossible for me to put the box back. Of course, because I am impatient, I tried to shove it harder hoping it would finally go back in. It did not and I was frustrated so I pulled the plastic box toward me and grabbed a couple books out that had been in the way. I took a look at the books and one caught my eye. It was a memory book of a young woman I had heard of who had died several years ago. Her name was Francis Walsh.
Francis, who was 25 years old, had died suddenly in a car accident about a half mile from where I was sitting there in church. I knew that she was the little sister of a priest who had previously been in residence at my church and I was intrigued about her life. I had never talked to anybody about her but had read the accounts of the accident in the newspaper at the time of her death. Through the newspaper I did know that she had recently begun working at Catholic Social Services and her very large Catholic family, who was well known in the community, was very saddened at her passing. I had also thought very highly of her brother Father Walsh and had always enjoyed his sermons. Like I said, the book intrigued me and I was immediately drawn in to reading it. It was written by her father.
There were several highlights for me as I read the book. One was the account that Francis’s Father gave as to the origin of her name. The first thing was she was indeed named after St. Francis of Assisi. Mr. Walsh mentioned that he had known several people named Francis and all of them had difficult lives but because of his love for the Saint he decided to take the chance and still give her the name Francis. He did recall many struggles that Francis had in her short life. But she worked through them even earning a Masters Degree in Counseling. She remained Faithful to Christ her whole life and that seemed to be a great comfort to the family even though she had many struggles.
Another Highlight was that Francis was born on the feast of St. Wenceslaus. They sang good King Wenceslaus to her at every birthday. She seemed to get a kick out of it and it provided for many great memories.
Francis Walsh had a best friend and her name was Jean, the same Jean that I have referred to who signs her e-mails with Peace. I feel even more privileged somehow to have a friendship with Jean now. Jean had provided Mr. Walsh with a lot of material for his book including great laughs. But it occurred to me that maybe Francis Walsh had provided Jean with the inspiration to sign all her e-mails with Peace.
The amazing thing to me was that I stayed up until three o’clock in the morning to finish the book. I kept looking for my lesson, the reason God wanted me to read it. I couldn’t seem to get there so I kept reading and reading until finally at the very end of the book came the Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi. I again had been given this prayer as a guide from God on how to obtain peace. And then I cried like a baby. First for the loss that Francis’ family endured and secondly at the thought that God really is always with me and answers my prayers. He keeps knocking at my door!
My story doesn’t end here because the next morning the Holy Spirit kept stirring in my heart to continue learning about St. Francis of Assisi and his Peace message. It occurred to me, as it also had while I was reading Frances Walsh’s memory book, that I had a deceased grandmother named Francis. I also realized that Grandma’s birthday was in the same month, April, that I was reading this book. I had to dig around my house to confirm that and as I did I came across a bookmark that had been made which on one side had the Prayer of Saint Francis written out and on the other side my Great Grandmother’s obituary write-up. This was Grandma Francis’s mother. I read about her and she and I had something in common and that is we were both involved with the Confraternity of Christian Mothers groups at each of our churches. The name of her church was St. Wenceslaus. What a coincidence!! Actually I don’t really believe in mere coincidences I believe in divine providence.
On top of all of that I realized my sister, Ann Francis, named her son Charles Francis when he was born on October 4th, 2008, which is also the Feast day of Saint Frances of Assisi! She had the name picked out way before his birth, and no it wasn’t a scheduled birth. HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHARLIE!
God’s divine providence has continued to keep St. Francis in my life. I shared my story with my friend Lucy, who I saw in church the first night I read the St. Anthony book. She told me that St. Frances’ life was very instrumental in her conversion to the Catholic Faith. Lucy also had read the Frances Walsh book!! The two of us figured out then and there that Lucy’s husband’s family and the Walshes were all Irish families from Gretna Nebraska. The Walsh’s had lived on Langdon Street which was Lucy’s last name. We were filled with the Holy Spirit at this revelation.
Upon further enthusiastic discussion about my story Lucy gave me a picture book about St. Francis which gave many stories of his miracles with nature. One such story was about how he used to sing with Cicadas. They actually would land on him and they would sing together. One of my first poems that I have written as an adult is called The Song of the Cicadas. At this additional providential discovery I began to feel more and more enamored with St. Frances and will pray to him for guidance in all my endeavors, especially when writing and spreading the word of God.
I had shared with Lucy that I couldn’t figure out why the St. Anthony book that started this whole story had the St. Francis prayer stuck right in the middle of it. She didn’t know either. A couple weeks had passed and I finally made the connection through coming across another children’s book that St. Anthony was also a Franciscan and had actually known St. Francis when he was alive. The book related the story that the Infant Jesus appeared to Anthony. It stated that, “Because of his love for the Infant Jesus, St. Anthony attracts children and young people, and helps them to preserve their purity and innocence in this world which is so full of immorality and sin.” (Saint Anthony of Padua, by Father Lovasik, S.V.D.) I must also pray to Saint Anthony to attract Children and young people to God through my writing.
Another Franciscan that has been knocking on my door is Saint Padre Pio. He has been popping up for me in various places. One thing St. Padre Pio did as a child was when another child would swear in his presence he would turn and run away as if he was fleeing the devil.
I think sometimes my children would like to flee from me when I yell. I truly know the path to peace. I’ll keep praying and persevering to obtain peace in my heart and family. For if I can then God can use me like he uses Jean and Shane and Francis…..
"Joy Battista" stands for the Joy of John the Baptist at the presence of Christ.
"And how have I deserved that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, the moment that the sound of thy greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leapt for joy." Luke 1:43-44
This blog is dedicated to all who seek the Joy of Christ's presence in their own lives.
This blog is also dedicated to the unborn, for John the Baptist was an unborn when he leapt for joy at the presence of Jesus who was also unborn at the time.