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Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace Hardcover – April 21, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1 edition (April 21, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062515810
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062515810
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #430,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The monastic tradition of lectio divina--holy reading--is a discipline of extremely slow, phrase-by-phrase, meditative reading of scripture. Its desired effect is to plumb the Bible's depths in such a way that scripture's individual words and phrases come to permeate the reader's whole life. In Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace: Living in the Spirit of St. Francis, Kent Nerburn reads the Prayer of Saint Francis in a manner much like lectio, and the rewards of this strategy are rich. The prayer ("Where there is hatred let me sow love ...") is a familiar one, but Nerburn's reflections on its phrases--meandering through stories of his summer jobs as a teenager, his lonely expatriate days in Germany, his long walks on the beaches of Mexico--make the old prayer new again. Nerburn has lived this prayer, and the quiet example of this book will help many readers to do so as well. He unwittingly describes the strength and power of his own project while reflecting on a phrase from the prayer's final stanza, "For it is in giving that we receive." Nerburn writes, "Our spirits are nourished by giving, just as our bodies are nourished by food. This is not mystical; it is not high-minded. It is a simple truth about the way that the energy of life flows back and forth between people when a moment of giving takes place." --Michael Joseph Gross

Review

"An ennobling book. It will not only make you feel better, it might just make you a better person." -- -- Huston Smith, author of The World's Religions

"Kent Nerburn has written a little jewel of a book, to warm the heart and touch the soul." -- -- Rabbi Harold S. Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People

"What a lovely book!" -- -- Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird and Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

"An ennobling book. It will not only make you feel better, it might just make you a better person." -- Huston Smith, author of The World's Religions

"I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed Ken Nerburn's Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace. I have never realized the depth of thought in that brief prayer of St. Francis. Kent Nerburn, in a few masterful strokes and touching stories, plumbs its depths and offers us a precious little treasure." -- Joseph F. Girzone, author of Joshua

"Kent Nerburn has tackled a well developed Franciscan prayer and topic with the freshness of an outside and contemporary perspective. Filled with stories from modern life in the west, it is thoroughly enjoyable as a quick, refreshing read, yet filled with spiritual gems." -- John Michael Talbot, founder of Brothers and Sisters of Charity, author of The Lessons of St. Francis

"Kent Nerburn has written a little jewel of a book, to warm the heart and touch the soul." -- Rabbi Harold S. Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People

"Kent Nerburn offers his mindful heart and thoughtful presence to illuminate the penetrating wisdom of Francis's sweet prayer. This book is a pearl of great price, revealing how the most potent, authentic prayer is also tender and very human. Kent Nerburn is a wise companion who has given us a blessing to be cherished again and again." -- Wayne Muller, author of Legacy of the Heart and How, Then, Shall We Live?

"What a lovely book!" -- Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird and Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith


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Customer Reviews

This book was written for everyone to read!
Linda
It's as if one is seeing St. Francis' prayer, discussed by Mr. Nerburn, take visible shape.
C.G.
I bought this book 14 years ago and have continued to read it and reread it.
doken

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By C.G. on May 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Reviewer: Cory Giacobbe
This is an insightful, eloquent work. I appreciate that Kent Nerburn keeps honoring the mystery of life, crystallized here in his current work, on St. Francis, and his famous prayer.
Simple, powerful subject; simple, powerful book. There's an obscure song version of the prayer, that I was given to sing back in my Catholic all-girls high school. Replayed only in memory now, I've never again heard any singers perform that specific haunting melody and arrangement. It had a "descant" part, which I as high-soprano sang: a glorious flow of nonverbal, spiraling sound, overlapping the second-soprano and alto parts harmonizing on the actual verses, until all of us merged in a pulsating powerful finale. People would weep in hearing it (and I, in singing it). The author's style reminded me of this. He explores the verses in a quiet, clear, down-to-earth fashion, and yet somehow, audible to the "inner" ear, you might "hear" the counterpoint, a high wonderful rejoicing of the soul (at least, per my soul) in pondering chapter after chapter.
Each section focuses on one line of the prayer. My special favorite is the first chapter evoking the music of love that St. Francis embodies.
Kent Nerburn's book stimulated many realizations for me. (As did the books, The Way of St. Francis, by Murray Bodo, and Man With A Song by F. and H. Line).
In reading Mr. Nerburn's book, I saw clearly how the whole theme of St. Francis' life is that of welcoming. The prayer is an act of embracing. It somehow never registered for me until now, that Francis was of my own ancestry, Italian. At a time when there was no unified concept of an "Italy," at a time of warring city-states, Francis opened his arms, roamed, and welcomed.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By robert danton on September 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I reread this book after reading Uberflavn's review. I think I know what he/she is missing. Francis met people where they are. This book meets people where they are. That is its genius. This book brings the prayer into an ordinary life. Maybe it's not doctrinally pure. Leave that to the curia. I want a book that shows me how the prayer can help my struggles in everyday life. This book does so better than any other. If you live in the world and not in a school of doctrinal theology, read this book. Francis would understand.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Kent Nerburn has written a small but powerful meditation on the prayer commonly attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. He has moved the message of the prayer out of the Church proper and back into street where it's enduring truths still hold. The heart of all wisdom teaching is embodied in the prayer's simple lines, "Where there is hatred, let me sow love." What Nerburn has so effectively done in this book is tell stories that bring each line of the prayer alive and offer examples of it's profound blessing for our lives today.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By "smh@mountdesales.org" on February 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book was excellent! The author speaks so openly and warmly about some very simple truths that we - at least I know I do - take forgranted and therefore often forget about practicing them in my life. I was so impressed by all that Kent said in this small book that I sat down and wrote him to tell him of my gratitude for his efforts in writing the book. It's one of those books that I felt good all over while/after reading it. I recommend this book very, very highly!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Tw Rutledge on October 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Kent Nerburn's books are always filled with intelligence and compassion, and "Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace" is an excellent example of just how much head and heart can be beautifully installed into 129 pages. Nerburn's reflections on the Prayer of Saint Francis teach us more about ourselves than about the famous saint, and that is probably just fine with Francis.
Nerburn always emphasizes the practical. "I would rather try to manifest my belief in God than to profess it," he writes. In this way, Saint Francis and the self-admitted not-so-saintly Nerburn make a wonderful team. They teach us that we cannot successfully hide from the dark side of our world or of ourselves; that instead we must face even the "most frightening human emotion" --- hatred --- head on. The goal is not to become a saint, thank goodness, but to accept responsibility to do what we can to manifest, and not just profess, our own beliefs.
Congruent with its contents, the physical book itself makes an excellent gift. I keep several copies in my office to give away whenever I may be so moved --- by the spirit of Saint Francis perhaps. (Although I doubt that Francis is involved in book promotion)
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I have read many books on St. Francis. They inspire me, but they always they make him seem so distant from my own life and problems. This book has the magical ability to make his spirituality seem like something that applies to my life. Thanks, Kent Nerburn, for showing me that the spirit of St. Francis can be alive in my ordinary life, too.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Donna M. Bernskoetter on September 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I absolutely LOVED this book! Kent Nerburn's style is beautiful. He speaks from the depths of his soul. THe kindness and goodness that he possesses as a human being is obvious. The depth of his spirituality is rare and he makes you want to do all you can to follow in CHrist's footsteps. The imagery he uses is so awesome. He uses the language of words as it is meant to be used--descriptive and visual. I took several stories from his book and told them to my kids, trying to instill in them a sense of selflessness, of giving without thinking of the cost. Giving of self, because it's the right and good thing to do.
We are called to love others, putting God first, others second and self last, because that's what God asks us to do. I have read so many spiritual works, and this is one of my very favorites. I just ordered 2 more of his books. I can't wait to read them, as well!
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