St. Francis of Assisi was a party animal. Born to a wealthy cloth merchant, he spent much of his time partying with friends. Until he didn’t. He answered God’s call, gave away all that he had and then lived a life in poverty. Animals brought him his food which is why, among other things, he is the patron saint of animals- including party animals. When he gave away all that he had and dedicated his life to God, he found peace. In our family, we are blessed to have little Andrew, who at three years old is the official “peace maker” and “joy giver.” Oh, and he just happens to have Down syndrome. St. Francis of Assisi has a well known prayer that starts with,
“Lord, let me be an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon and where there is despair, hope.”
As special needs parents, we are in a constant battle to find peace. Our days are filled with work, driving children around, and scheduling appointments- including a multitude of medical appointments. St. Francis separated himself from his world in order to find peace. Unfortunately, we cannot do the same. However, we CAN model his prayer life. If a church is on our way home, then stop for a few minutes and make a spiritual communion. Like St. Francis, when we step outside of the norm, we can find our peace in Christ. My spiritual director recently talked to me about the importance of making spiritual communions. I used to go to daily Mass almost every day. Until I didn’t. With two kids to take to school at 7:30am and Andrew’s preschool drop off at 8:30am with pickup at 12:30pm, I just couldn’t fit daily Mass into the schedule. This is when my spiritual director talked to me about making spiritual communions. When one cannot make an actual communion, we can still make a spiritual communion. This can be done by stopping by the church and sitting in silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. If we cannot make it to church, we can find a quiet spot in our home and pray a bit of the Rosary or read a bit of Sacred Scripture. Any time spent with God is time well spent. Time with God breathes peace into our lives. St. Francis discovered this and it still holds true today. When we learn to find time with Christ, we discover his peace. Then comes the domino effect of finding peace in other parts of our lives, to include the little children that we are raising. May we never forget that we are raising little peace givers. Their smiles light up the world and provide us with hope when we feel as if we are in despair. Our children model the epitome of peace that St. Francis preached about.
I encourage you to make spiritual communions and to send your guardian angel to Mass for you. This will provide you with so much peace that you can take on all of the days tasks. May you be so emboldened to find peace by gazing into your child’s eyes and finding the peace of God that remains with them. Though it may not seem like it at times, when coupled with prayers, your children can give you the greatest sense of peace.
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
Erin Thielman is a mother of three, and speaker, who blogs at www.erinthielman.com.