The prayer of St. Francis of Assisi has always been inspiring to me and always brings tears to my eyes. It states: 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!!! Wow. That is hard to do especially when your own needs are not being met, the other person is just not nice, and you definitely need love. Maybe that’s where my tears come from – the difficulty of it all. I often think of the Mary, Christ’s Mother, knowing her son is being crucified, humiliated, scourged and made fun of. Was she receiving divine assistance to help her though that? What sort of darkness was she in where her faith had to stand firm. And Christ, for that matter, dying on a cross, calling out to His Father, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani! My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? What kind of darkness was He in at that moment. What kind of faith did He have?
We need to have faith too in our times of darkness. Where we see no hope, we need the faith to console rather than be consoled, to love rather than be loved and to understand rather than be understood. I say we need the faith because, I think, if we have it, we then get love, consolation and understanding from God through His Son, Jesus. If you don’t have it and can still practice these virtues at the most difficult times because of your loving heart – more power to you!
Interestingly enough, St. Francis’ prayer outlined above is also the basis of good communication skills outlined in a nice article regarding conflict management skills out of the University of California Berkley.
“Two principles have contributed greatly to the productive handling of disagreements. The first, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood,” was introduced by Steven Covey, in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.1 If we encourage others to explain their side first, they will be more apt to listen to ours.”