Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Odd Trail of a Morning's Prayer

The real point of interest in this story is Francois de Salignac de La Mothe Fenelon who is the ultimate author of a rather famous prayer attributed, generally without reference, to Thomas Mergon. The trail then moves to a Norman Almanac circa 1915 and the genesis of the St. Francis Peace Prayer.

The connection is then made between the prayers of Archbishop Fenlon and the Morning Prayer of Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow by the good Sisters of the Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery in Otego, NY [see both versions]....and then one begins to wonder where that Norman took his inspiration to ask the Lord to allow him to be an instrument of His peace?

I only speculate at this point but it was interesting digging for one morning.

Fenelon Prayer
Lord, I know not what I ought to ask of Thee;

Thou only knowest what I need; Thou lovest me better
than I know how to love myself. O Father, give to Thy
child that which he himself knows not how to ask.
I dare not ask either for crosses or for consolations;
I simply present myself before Thee,
I open my heart to Thee. Behold my needs
which I know not myself; see and do according to
Thy tender mercy. Smite, or heal; depress me,
or raise me up; I adore all Thy purposes without
knowing them; I am silent; I offer myself in
sacrifice; I yield myself to Thee; I would have
no other desire than to accomplish Thy will.
Teach me to pray. Pray Thyself in me. AMEN.

Francois de Salignac Fenelon
Archbishop of Cambray. 1651-1715 A.D


The Peace Prayer of St. Francis is a famous prayer which first appeared around the year 1915 A.D., and which embodies the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi's simplicity and poverty.

According to Father Kajetan Esser, OFM, the author of the critical edition of St. Francis's Writings, the Peace Prayer of St. Francis is most certainly not one of the writings of St. Francis. This prayer, according to Father Schulz, Das sogennante Franziskusgebet. Forshungen zur evangelishen Gebetslitteratur (III), in Jahrbuch fur Liturgik und Hymnologie, 13 (1968), pp. 39-53, first appeared during the First World War. It was found written on the observe of a holy card of St. Francis, which was found in a Norman Almanac. The prayer bore no name; but in the English speaking world, on account of this holy card, it came to be called the Peace Prayer of St. Francis.

More information about this prayer can be found in Friar J. Poulenc, OFM, L'inspiration moderne de la priere « Seigneru faites de moi un instrument de votre paix », Archivum Franciscanum Historicum, vol. 68 (1975) pp. 450-453.

The Peace Prayer of St. Francis

by an anonymous Norman c. 1915 A.D. Peace Prayer
Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred,
Let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, Joy.

O Divine Master grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled
As to console;
To be understood,as to understand;
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


Prayer of Philaret

Description of Prayer: There are several forms of this prayer, perhaps originally written by Fenelon, the 18th century French Christian, and adapted by a number of Orthodox faithful, including the Optina Fathers, in different versions. This version, compiled and used by the saintly Metropolitan of 19th Century Moscow, Philaret, has become a classic

O Lord,
grant that I may meet the coming day in peace.
Help me in all things
to rely upon Thy Holy Will.
In every hour of the day,
reveal Thy will to me.
Bless my dealings with all who surround me.
Teach me to treat all that comes to me
throughout the day with peace of soul,
and with the firm conviction that Thy will governs all.
In all my deeds and words,
guide my thoughts and feelings.
In unforeseen events, let me not forget
that all are sent by Thee.
Teach me to act firmly and wisely,
without embittering and embarrassing others.
Give me the strength to bear the fatigue
of the coming day with all that it shall bring.
Direct my will.
Teach me to pray.
Pray Thou Thyself in me.


The Morning Prayer of Philaret Metropolitan of Moscow

Lord, let me accept calmly all that this day might bring me and let me devote myself completely to Your sacred will. Direct me and help me each hour of this day. Control my thoughts and feelings in all my deeds and words. When unpredictable circumstances arise, do not let me forget that everything comes from You.

Teach me to be just towards my brother, never to provoke wrath or cause sorrow. Control my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to suffer, to forgive and to love.

Lord, let me be an instrument of Your peace, where there is hatred, let me spread love, where there are insults-forgiveness, where there is discord-unity, hope where there is despair, light where there is darkness, joy where there is sadness.

O, Divine Teacher, let me give, rather than receive consolation, let me understand others, rather than be understood, let me love others, rather than be loved. For when we forgive, we are forgiven, when we give, we receive and when we die, we are born into eternal life.

Holy Spirit, help me to dedicate this day to my Lord and Saviour. Lord Jesus, Son of God, it is better not to live than to live without You. I thank you, God, for the gift of this day and for all the good deeds that You will help me do today.

Merciful God, deliver me from the desire for comfort and make me worthy of denying myself for Your sake and for my brother's sake at any moment, for that is why You have given me life. Help me to reject anything that does not belong to You, and all that does belong to You to accept with devout faith, hope and love.

Give me courage to serve You worthily, to place justice above profit, the realization of noble deeds above momentary pleasures, to put others before myself and to fulfil Your commandment of love. Let the light of Your beauty, goodness and love shine in my soul.



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