You may notice that I always sign my bulletin note or emails with Pax at the end. It is a little odd and a little humbling to see other folks pick up and use this greeting in emails as has happened in parishes where I have served. Also, last week it was the header above my bulletin note. So where does it come from?
The phrase “Pax et Bonum!” was used by St. Francis of Assisi as his common greeting to those he met during the course of the day. It can be translated as “Peace and Goodness.” This is a rich theological phrase whose depths are not just reduced to “peace, bro.” God is the Summum Bonum—the supreme good. Or in the words of Our Lord, “No one is good but God alone” (Mk 10:18). Such a greeting is really wishing abundant blessings upon the person encountered.
The depths of this phrase struck me in 2000 when I was leading a group of pilgrims to World Youth day in Rome. I had never had a devotion to St. Francis prior to this trip. The St. Francis that was presented to me growing up in the 70’s seemed to be a wimpy projection of a number of secular values of that era. However, when I talked in the same cobbled streets where St. Francis walked in Assisi, heard his words, and prayed at his tomb, I encountered a very different saint. This man loved God with is whole heart, mind, and soul holding nothing back. Because he had forsaken riches to serve the Lord, he was able to wondrously recognize the providence of God in all of his created works. Hence we know him as the lover of animals.
So when I sign my email with Pax, I do this as an abbreviated nod of the head to St. Francis. Sometimes I will use other language variants of Pax (Latin) such as Paix (French), Pace (Italian), Pax (Spanish), and Shalom (Hebrew).
Pax (et Bonum!),