Good Zeal

Let Peace Be Your Quest and Aim

RC Chapel window-PAXIn the midst of the beautiful change in seasons, I really tried to make this blog about the cycle of nature and life inspired by a slow walk in nature to enjoy the colors of God’s creation.  However, my mind and heart cannot escape the pain and suffering happening on this wondrous, God-given planet, our common home.  One response to all the pain and suffering could be to stop in a pool of hopelessness and helplessness. But, time spent in prayerful reading offered two quotes that calmed my troubled soul and pointed a way forward. The first quote was from St. Benedict, and the second was from Pope Francis.

St. Benedict wrote in his Rule: “And let them first pray together, that so they may associate in peace.”  St. Benedict was a man of peace. He walked the path of peace his whole life long and led all who came to him into the ways of peace. The spirit of his Rule is summed up in the ancient sentiment of the single word PAX (“peace”). If you visit Benedictine monasteries, you are likely to see this simple Latin word for “peace” carved in stone or wood or displayed in their chapels or over a main gate or doorway.  True peace is attained when the “stuff” of life is properly ordered, when the needs of all are appropriately attended to, when all the members of the community are treated with respect, and when there is a bedrock of interest in the common good.  In this way of life, the weak are supported by the strong; the young and the old are treated with extra care and concern; and love for all the members is nurtured by regular prayer and common worship.  Being dedicated to the pursuit of Christian peace is one of the most important things monks and nuns can do in a world torn by the violence, social discord, and outright warfare that we read about in news feeds and daily newspapers.

Pope Francis urges all Christians: “Let us pray for peace: peace in the world and in each of our hearts….God’s love calls us to move beyond fear. We ask God for the courage to put on faith, hope and love as we go out into the world and become the word in body as well as spirit.” In other words, we are to pray for peace and then we are to do the work of creating peace in the way we live our lives of faith.  Peace is more than simply the absence of war; rather, it is a lifestyle that considers any form of violence as unnecessary and unacceptable.   Ronald Reagan once stated: “Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” John Lewis asserted: “Not one of us can rest, be happy, be at home, be at peace with ourselves, until we end hatred and division.” Archbishop Oscar Romero, assassinated in San Salvador in 1980 because of his work for peace and justice, once clearly connected love and peace when he said, “If there were love of neighbor, there would be no terrorism, no repression, no selfishness, none of such inequalities in society, no abductions, no crimes. Love sums up the law; not only that, it gives Christian meaning to all human relations”.

Our prayer like so many people of good will is for PEACE. Peace in our hearts and please, dear God, PEACE in our world.

Pope Francis has called for a day of fasting, penance and prayer for peace in the world Friday, October 27, 2023.

At the end of his general audience talk in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 18th, Pope Francis said: “War does not solve any problems, it only sows death and destruction. It increases hatred, multiplies revenge. War erases the future….Our thoughts go to Palestine and Israel. Casualties are rising, and the situation in Gaza is desperate….Please, may everything possible be done to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.”  He also said that what is most “disturbing” is the possibility that the conflict will spread just as so many other battles of war are already being waged in the world.  “Please,” he said, “let us continue to pray for peace in the world, especially in tormented Ukraine,” a tragedy that is no longer talked about but continues. “Silence the weapons. Listen to the cry of the poor, the people, the children, for peace,” the pope said. He urged all people of faith to take “just one side in this conflict: that of peace. But not with words, with prayer, with total dedication.” For this reason, he said, he has decided to call for a day of fasting, prayer and penance Oct. 27.

The pope invited men and women of every Christian denomination and other religions as well as those committed to the cause of peace to participate in any way they feel is appropriate.
There will be an hour of prayer starting at 6 p.m. in Rome in St. Peter’s Square “imploring for peace in the world,” he said, and local churches are invited to organize similar initiatives.

By Sister Janet Marie Flemming, OSB

Back to Blog