I’ve run across a beautiful prayer many times in the last few weeks. It has various names, “A Franciscan Blessing,” a “Four-Fold Benedictine Blessing. ” Lots of different Catholic orders want to take credit for it.
So I did me some Googling and found out it was written in 1985 by Sister Ruth Marlene Fox, OSB, of Sacred Heart Monastery in Richardton, ND. She called it, “A Non-Traditional Blessing.”
It is a prayer she wrote for a Dickinson State College Graduation Breakfast. Yes, that’s right: we’re still dealing with the same problems forty years later.
But it’s the kind of blessing/prayer that never goes out of style—like the Sermon on the Mount or the 23rd Psalm.
“A Non-Traditional Blessing.”
May God bless you with discontent with easy answers, half-truths, superficial relationships, so that you will live from deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, abuse, and exploitation of people, so that you will work for justice, equality, and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you will reach out your hand to comfort them and to change their pain to joy.
May God bless you with the foolishness to think you can make a difference in this world, so that you will do the things which others tell you cannot be done.
If you have the courage to accept these blessings, then God will also bless you with:
happiness—because you will know that you have made life better for others
inner peace—because you will have worked to secure an outer peace for others
laughter—because your heart will be light
faithful friends—because they will recognize your worth as a person.
These blessings are yours—not for the asking, but for the giving—from One who wants to be your companion, our God, who lives and reigns, forever and ever. Amen.
Thank you, Sister Ruth. On one hand I wish we still didn’t have to work for, “justice, equality, and peace.” But on the other hand: we’re human. The Biblical issues of injustice, oppression, abuse, and exploitation of people are alive and well in June 2020.
I love that she doesn’t say, “Don’t be angry, discontent, grieving or foolish.” Who gets through life not having those feelings at one time or another? Instead she calls them “blessings” and says use those feelings and act for change.
She also says nothing about success. We are blessed whether or not we have “achieved” anything. It’s all about the process and not the product. When we act, when we reach out to others, God blesses us with happiness, inner peace, laughter and faithful friends. This is what keeps us going.
So let us not be afraid to feel and let us not be afraid to act.