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We are simply asked

(Edited from original post)

Twenty or more years ago, someone gave me what has become my favorite prayer/poem. It was written by the Jesuit* priest Peter Byrne, and it's this:

We are simply asked
to make gentle our bruised world
to tame its savageness
to be compassionate of all
(including ourselves)
in the time left over
to repeat the Ancient Tale
and go the way 
of God's foolish ones.

I've also seen the prayer/poem in a different version, with the words "...from these ministries of justice and care" added after "in the time left over," but that always felt a little clunky to me. I often wondered if those words had been added, because they seem to break up what is otherwise a nice rhythm to the poem.

So three or four years ago, when I asked Mary, as my birthday present, to splurge on commissioning calligrapher Michael Podesta to write up the prayer/poem as something I could frame, I decided to research the prayer/poem.

To my delight, I ended up making contact with the author, Fr. Peter Byrne. I asked his permission to reprint the prayer/poem on correspondence cards as long as I wasn't selling them/for my own personal use, to which he graciously agreed. He said he wrote the verse for an invitation to his ordination in 1975, and he confirmed that those lines in question were not in his original prayer/poem, but had been added over the years.

I think this prayer/poem is as good a summary of Christian ministry (lay or ordained) as any I know, so I'm resolving to give it wider exposure, starting here with a series of reflections. Check back!

*Jesuits are members of the Roman Catholic order of The Society of Jesus, founded by Ignatius of Loyola in the sixteenth century. Their spirituality is therefore called "Ignatian" spirituality. Pope Francis, the current pope of the Roman Catholic church is a Jesuit -- the first time that a Jesuit has been elected Pope. I believe that at least part of the current Pope's appeal (and tenacious resolve!) comes from his Ignatian background. You might be interested to read "What Pope Francis' Ignatian Spirituality Can Teach Us."


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