“Our vows require poverty, chastity and obedience,” a Franciscan father explained to me, “We call it a vow of ‘no mon, no hon, no fun.”
As a celibate Mennonite, undergoing divorce at the time, I had no problem understanding or affirming all three, but I asked, “Can I add a fourth?
“A fourth vow? Like what?”
This late night conversation happened a few years ago, when the Order of Conventional Franciscans invited me to lead workshops at all their centers on counseling and creating understanding between cultures.
For six weeks, every Thursday, I flew to one of the various centers in New Mexico, Ohio, Chicago, Texas, Pennsylvania, etc. lived with the brothers and taught, then returned to the Mennonite Seminary for my regular Monday through Wednesday class schedule. They called me their Franciscan-Menno-brother.
Late one night, cubicle room, hard bed, rock pillow, sleep impossible, I reviewed their vows, and began to pray, on Franciscan turf, the prayer of St Francis. Then it came out twisted, as Christians have lived it without my pacifist fourth vow.
Lord, make me the instrument of MY peace;
Where there is hatred, arm me with my gun;
Where there is injury, hand me my Glock;
Where there is doubt, steady my Smith and Wesson;
Where there is despair, my rapid fire assault weapon;
Where there is darkness, my night vision scope;
Where there is sadness, rapid response, sure aim, clean shot.
O Divine Master,
Grant that we may not so much seek
To be controlled as to be in control;
To be forewarned as to be fore-armed;
To be respected as to be feared;
For it is in threatening that we are not threatened;
It is in victimizing that we will not become victims;
It is taking the lives of the bad guys
that we good guys preserve good guy’s lives.
To whom do I offer this prayer? To the god of Joshua and Judges perhaps, but not to the God of Jesus Christ. At least not the Jesus of the Gospels, or the Epistles, or of the church until it struck a deal with the Emperor Constantine (272-337).
On October 28, 312 AD the Emperor needed more support for the battle of the Milvian Bridge, and he enlisted Jesus, claimed His cross as army insignia, and made Him an instrument of military (Pax Romana) peace.
However, check it out, when Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” he was not volunteering, not enlisting, not rendering all to Caesar. Check it out.
To whom do I offer this impertinent prayer? To you.