In sports, it is not uncommon to run into an opponent who trash talks to you and/or your teammates, gives you a cheap shot, or even starts an actual fist fight. Some might say that these opponents are sore losers and just do everything they can to win, even if that means playing dirty. Sometimes all of these things do get under our skin for one reason or another and our emotions get the best of us but, that is our human nature. It is our duty, as Team Chaplains, to guide our student-athletes to not act out on their emotions. We must encourage our athletes to take a deep breath to stay calm and stay focused. Once we let our opponents get under our skin, we allow them to take our minds off of the game. The same is true for life outside of sports. Whether it is in the business world, academic world, and social world, there will always be someone looking to get the upper hand but, we cannot allow them to deter us from our true path. One way we can combat these disruptions is by finding peace within ourselves. The way in which we can find peace is through prayer.
For instance, St. Francis found peace within himself through his prayer life and his relationship with God which led him to his true path. We too can find peace within ourselves. Once we have found peace within ourselves we are more likely to find God and not lose our focus on our true path. There are many things that we can learn from the examples that St. Francis left us. One thing in particular that we can learn from is the “Peace Prayer”. Although not written by St. Francis himself, the Prayer of St. Francis was attributed to St. Francis, his life’s ministry, and the example he set for us. If you dive deep and break down this prayer line by line, you can appreciate that what this prayer is asking for is actually a guide on how to live the gospel values on a daily basis in our everyday lives.
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon;
This first line in the prayer reminds me of St. Francis’ quote, “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words”. As followers of Christ, we do not need to quote the Holy Bible word for word but, we should try to live a life of gospel values. Through our actions we can bring others closer God.Think along the lines of the example of “turn the other cheek” but with emphasis on love and respect. Even though it may seem like giving up, there is a higher honor being peaceful. When someone hurts us physically, emotionally, mentally, we shall not retaliate with violence but show love, forgiveness and understanding to that person who may be going through something that is unknown to us.
Where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light;
When we are suffering through injuries, are in a dark place, and we feel alone we need to be resilient and persevere until we can find the light. That light inside of us is the grace of God which will bring us to new heights.
Where there is sadness, joy.
Through challenges, pain, and suffering there is always a great deal of goodness and happiness that can come out of any situation. God wants us to look on the bright side on all of our tribulations. Even when we are down, it does not hurt to smile or genuinely ask someone how they are doing. You never know what that smile or joy that you express can do for someone else as it can be a factor that brings them joy during their own troubled times. So, get out there and inspire someone through your actions!
The full prayer can be used as an exercise of self-discovery and personal meaning.
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;
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.