The Franciscan greeting PAX ET BONUM is the common salutation of the whole Franciscan Family.
Convinced that the Lord called him and his brothers to be messengers of peace, FRANCIS OF ASSISI confessed in his Testament: God revealed a form of greeting to me that we should say, “GOD GIVE YOU PEACE!’. This greeting of peace became so important for him that he instructed his brothers to make this a form of greeting in the Rule of 1223: “Whatever house they enter they should first say, Peace to this house” (Lk. 10,5).
In the early days of the Order, Francis sent his first brothers with these instructions: “Go, my dearest brothers, two by two into various parts of the world, announcing to men peace and repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Peace and forgiveness (repentance/salvation) are inseparable for Francis.
PEACE reflects the unity of the diverse aspects of creation and of our human experience in the plan of God. To wish peace for another is to take away from that person fear of your presence, fear of being manipulated.
This is a clear call for unity in this greeting; however, there is also a recognition of the diversity of created experience. In it we find a certain uniqueness which flows from the dynamic unity of “PAX”, a challenge to become vessels for the incarnation of “PAX” from individual to individual. “Become who you are.”
“Recognize your place in God’s creation”. The promotion of the individual’s wholeness and integration is the praxis that flow from the blessing “PAX”, “SHALOM”, “PEACE”. In the poem, “Canticle of Creatures”, Francis, recognizing himself as coming from the very hands of God, reveals his integration by standing side by side with all created things without any desire to posses or to manipulate. Hence, a peaceful person becomes united with all the creatures as brothers and sisters having only one Father, God, the creator in Heaven.
“God looked at everything He had made, and found it very good” (Gen. 1,31a). Receiving life as a gift from our Creator, from His breath, creation cannot be other than good in itself. Everything He has created – grass of the fields, flowers, trees, animals and men – are good. God is supremely good (“total good, ever good, all good” in the language of Francis) and since that divine goodness is self-effusive, its expression must also be good. Every being is good; in fact, being is synonymous to good. Following the Franciscan approach to creation, we can say that creatures are but vestiges, shadows, images and similitude’s of the Supreme Goodness, according to their degree of perfection