Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

It is the Feast of Saint Francis

El Greco ~ St. Francis Before the Crucifix
Today is the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi who died in 1226. The prayer below is usually attributed to Francis, and even if he didn't really compose it, the thoughts are surely his. It is a good prayer to pray at the start of each day.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, let me sow pardon;
where there is discord, let me sow unity;
where there is doubt, let me sow faith;
where there is despair, let me sow hope;
where there is darkness, let me sow light;
where there is sadness, let me sow 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. Amen

Could I add a little nuance to the phrase, "That I may not so much seek to be loved as to love." There's nothing wrong with hoping to be loved. Many people in the world are loved by no one; their pain is very deep. Conversely, there are some people who love themselves so much. It can be very unattractive. But everything must be kept in balance. Wherever we experience the love of others - we pray to be deeply grateful and humbled. To be loved is a very great gift and a wonderful sign of God's love for us, as we are God's own dear children.


  1. Let us be instruments of peace in every aspect of our lives.

  2. Could you explain some of the symbolism in this painting? The skull, the piece of paper, the leaves at the top? Thank you.

    1. Ah! El Greco painted Saint Francis at least 20 times. Here the holy saint is praying in the cave of LaVerna where he spent the last two years of his life. But notice, Francis has not yet received the stigmata wounds of Christ in his hands. There is a still life arrangement of crucifix, skull, book and rock. Francis is meditating on the crucified Jesus, the skull is an image of our human mortality, the book could be a copy of the Gospels or his breviary. The rock on which these objects rest symbolizes the solidity of Francis' life in Christ. The leaves we see in the upper left corner kind of break up the stark darkness as ivy is symbolic of Christ's salvation and his offering of eternal life. The little piece of paper? It means nothing - but in tiny Greek letters El Greco has signed his name on it.