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Day 11: Peace


Editor’s note: On this eleventh day of our Advent and Christmas blog series “His Light Would Not Go Out,” DC Service Corps volunteer Erin Frances Reinhart shares the glimpses of God’s peace that she has seen through her time with FMS and her service with Little Friends for Peace.

In the poem “First Coming” by Madeleine L’Engle, she writes, “He did not wait till the world was ready, till men and nations were at peace.” Without Jesus, men and nations could not be at peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He restores our broken relationships with God, ourselves, and others through His death on the cross. By saving us from our sins, we can be more fully united and at peace with God. Jesus, The Giver of Peace, makes us complete, and this wholeness allows us to be at peace with ourselves. Finally, through Jesus, The Bringer of Peace, we are united and can live in peace with others.

Like Jesus’ entrance into the world, He did not wait until I was fully ready to call me to Franciscan Mission Service (FMS). He did not wait until I was at peace. Yet, on my journey with FMS, He has provided experiences that have allowed me to grow tremendously, especially in peace with God, myself, and others.

God has given me countless opportunities to be at peace with Him. I feel God touching my life when he calls me to interact with others. For example, I had a chance to teach at a school I do not usually teach at. I did not necessarily want to go, but I felt God’s gentle urging. When I arrived at the school, there was one little boy in the class that was having an extremely challenging day. He missed his mother and could no longer deal with being around the other students. I was able to sit with him, and we co-created a story about frogs that distracted him until it was time to go home. At that moment, I knew God had called me to that school to accompany that little boy. This experience allowed me to be more closely united to God, which, in turn, brought me peace.

FMS has aided me in working towards peace within myself by emphasizing holistic wellness and growth. I have expanded my professional skills through my ministry site and knowledge through formation sessions. Through building authentic relationships with those in the FMS community, those I serve alongside, and those I accompany at my ministry site, I have grown in self-awareness, active listening, communication, patience, kindness, self-sacrifice, empathy, and relatability. Additionally, I have gained a more profound knowledge of Franciscan spirituality and have had opportunities to use this spirituality as a lens through which to understand experiences at my ministry site. Finally, there has been time to discover the things that genuinely bring me joy, such as running, cooking, photography, art, nature, and coffee. In balancing these different aspects of my life, I have grown in inner peace.

Living in an intentional community has challenged me to practice interacting peacefully with others. For example, a couple of weeks ago, I arrived in the kitchen to cook supper for the community only to find that we were completely out of potatoes, a key component of my meal. I initially became frustrated. However, I quickly remembered that everyone who has cooked a community meal has likely had the shared experience of adapting the supper plan when an ingredient was accidentally forgotten. I also recalled that I have, on several occasions, forgotten items requested by other community members. The universality of this community experience united me more closely with the community and allowed me to respond more peacefully in that instant.

These experiences make it clear that Jesus called me to FMS to grow in peace. However, I realized that I could not be fully at peace until I actively opened my heart to Jesus, The Prince of Peace. Therefore, I challenge you to invite Jesus into your life. Allow him to bring peace and help you grow in your relationship with God, yourself, and others.

Question for reflection: Where are you being called to open your heart to the peace of Christ?

Erin Frances is a native of Courtland, Minnesota. She graduated from Saint Mary’s College in Indiana with a BS in Chemistry and Dartmouth College in New Hampshire with a Ph.D. in Chemistry. Erin Frances is excited to join the DC Service Corps as a program associate with Little Friends for Peace. There, she will be serving to counter violence and contribute to a worldwide culture of peace by sharing skills to prevent, resolve, and transform conflict with individuals, families, teams, and communities. She is looking forward to deepening her faith and living out a ministry of presence with those she encounters.