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May the Lord give you peace! That greeting originated with St. Francis of Assisi, (1181-1226). I had the opportunity to visit Assisi on four different occasions during my sabbatical. I love visiting Assisi as it such a space of spiritual nourishment and refreshment. Also, the town is incredibly interesting dating back to several centuries before the birth of Christ.

Another reason that I have such an affinity for St. Francis is because my dad’s name is Francis and my middle name is Francis. Another devotional connection for me is the fact that Francis’ baptismal name was John (Giovanni). Francis (Francesco) was a nickname given to Francis by his father, Pietro, and refers to “the little French-speaking one”. Francis’ mother, Pica, was from France and Pietro used to travel to France as a cloth merchant. That makes St. Francis’ name John Francis and that, my friends, is my name. Okay, now that I have finished my mental gymnastics to establish my devotional relationship with St. Francis, I will share a bit about the tagline, “May the Lord give you peace!”

The Lord revealed to St. Francis that he and the brothers were to greet everyone they met with the words, “May the Lord give you peace!” He said not to be embarrassed by addressing these words to others and that the Lord would greatly bless the brothers for it. When I read the story in the legend of St. Francis, I thought, wow, I could do that and I should do that! Normally, I send an e-mail beginning with a salutation such as Good morning or Good afternoon, but wouldn’t it be a better greeting to pray the Lord’s peace onto the recipient, especially during a time when there is so much conflict in people’s hearts. Peace is what every heart is seeking. The world is impotent to satisfy this desire. We are seeking evangelical peace, in other words, the peace of Christ. The blessing of evangelical peace permeates the Mass. Think of the greeting, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father”; and, the dismissal, “Go in peace glorifying the Lord by your life.” And, don’t forget the exchange of the sign of peace before Holy Communion to mention a few occurrences.

So if you wonder why I am now opening my written addresses with the words from St. Francis, “May the Lord give you peace,” it is because there is a great need for this gift.

It’s great to be back with you again. I love my Blessed Sacrament family.

To conclude, my other tagline from St. Ignatius, of course:

Ad majorem Dei gloriam,

Fr. John F. Jirak, Pastor 

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