The Rev. Jonathan Morris focuses on serenity prayer, encourages missions teams to exhibit courage, mercy


The Rev. Jonathan Morris concentrated on serenity, courage and mercy in his address to members of the Missions of Peace teams gathered in Franciscan University’s Gentile Gallery on Feb. 28 for Mission Immersion Day.

Morris’ topic for the morning focused on the famous Serenity Prayer, written by a Protestant theologian and pastor: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

Morris commented on how many people are familiar with the serenity prayer, even some who do not believe in God. He has a theory as to why so many love this simple prayer.

“I think it can be a window into the soul of God,” said Morris. “It’s looking at me the way God looks at me.”

Morris describes the serenity prayer as “self-help to God-help” because we are asking something that cannot be gained on our own.

“We’re asking the Lord to do a miracle in my life so I can do my part,” he said.

The serenity prayer can be divided into three steps, explained Morris. They are acceptance, courage and wisdom, he said.

Acceptance, he said, is a difficult step, as the world is always encouraging people to fight back. It is important to accept reality, including the negative parts of one’s life, as God’s will, Morris said.

“When we realize we cannot change anything, that is a huge spiritual step,” he said.

Courage, described Morris, is the disposition to do what is right without ceasing. He went on to say that courage is part of preparation for one’s soul.

“The grace of God starts working when we start being courageous,” he said.

While people often know what to do and accept, said Morris, they often lack wisdom in knowing what God wants – and it does not get easier after graduation.

“In the real world, you’re going to be called to a spirituality that’s not going to be spoon-fed to you,” said Morris.

The priest’s advice to the students was to lead with mercy. He described this as loving others in a way that they can experience God’s love.

It was this part of the talk that struck Brother Nathan Meckey, adviser for the North Dakota Mission.

“Our intuition is to combat with truth,” said Meckey, saying that this ultimately will not attract others to the church. Instead, the church and its members need to be witnesses of love, he said.

Student Anna Williams, who is on the Steubenville Mission team, shared that it was Morris’ explanation about courage that inspired her the most. Williams explained that it reminded her of street ministry and asking people to pray with her.

“Courage is having the courage to bring faith into it if you think it’s necessary,” said Williams, reflecting on Morris’ talk.

Morris is a former Franciscan University student who left for seminary when he was 21 years old and was ordained in Rome, Italy, by Pope St. John Paul II in 2002. He now works as a Fox News analyst and is pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the Bronx, New York City.

The Missions of Peace will be serving at several locations over spring break. The missions include Arizona, Belize, Chicago, Honduras, Jamaica, New Mexico, New York City, Nicaragua, North Dakota, San Diego, SonLife (Florida) and Steubenville.

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