Seasonal Reflection: Lent, 2017

Reflecting on Peace

Lent is a favourable season for deepening our spiritual life…
Lent is a favourable season for opening the doors to all those in need
and recognizing in them the face of Christ…
Lent is a favourable season for renewing our encounter with Christ,
living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbor…
Lent urgently calls us to conversion.

- Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for Lent 2017


One way to observe Lent and answer this call takes us back to Pope Francis’s World Day of Peace Message presented on January 1st, 2017, Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace. In that message, Pope Francis asked God “to help all of us to cultivate nonviolence in our most personal thoughts and values.” He went on to pray: “May charity and nonviolence govern how we treat each other as individuals, within society and in international life…. In the most local and ordinary situations and in the international order, may nonviolence become the hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and indeed of political life in all its forms.”


Pope Francis, mournfully refers to our current state as “a horrifying world war fought piecemeal” that “causes great suffering: wars in different countries and continents; terrorism, organized crime and unforeseen acts of violence; the abuses suffered by migrants and victims of human trafficking; and the devastation of the environment.”

Yet he states unconditionally, “Violence is not the cure for our broken world.” He reminds us that “Jesus himself lived in violent times. Yet he taught that the true battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for ‘it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come.’ To be true followers of Jesus today includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence.”

Pope Francis acknowledges: “It is a challenge to build up society, communities and businesses by acting as peacemakers. It is to show mercy by refusing to discard people, harm the environment, or seek to win at any cost. Active nonviolence is a way of showing that unity is truly more powerful and more fruitful than conflict.”

Pope Francis concludes: “All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers.” This Lent “may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to building nonviolent communities that care for our common home…. Everyone can be an artisan of peace.”



A Simple Prayer

 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, 
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; 
to be understood as to understand; 
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive; 
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; 
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.



Suggested Actions

  • - Read the complete World Day of Peace and Lenten Messages of Pope Francis at http://tinyurl.com/jce25lu and http://tinyurl.com/zh6lz34 respectively.

    - Read scripture and let it capture your heart and mind.

    - Visit the website of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative to learn more about the fundamental place of nonviolence in our faith: https://nonviolencejustpeace.net/.

    - Practice active nonviolence at home, work, school, parish, and neighborhood. Promote it in government policies. Recognize it as a pro-life exercise from womb to tomb, from health care to home care, from protection of the stranger to protection of the environment, from peacebuilding locally to peacemaking globally.

    - Join the 35th Good Friday Way of the Cross organized by Pax Christi Metro New York on April 14th, starting at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, E. 47th St. between 1st & 2nd Aves. at 8:30 AM. Each Station will reflect on a different way Jesus calls us to active nonviolence.

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