Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Praying for Peace

Prayer vigil St. Peter's Square, September 7, 2013
In recent weeks Pope Francis called for prayers for peace in Syria and he himself prayed and fasted. On the evening of September 7, the Pope led a four-hour prayer vigil in St. Peter's Square attended by approximately 100,000 people.

It is not unusual to find outside or just inside the door of a Benedictine monastery the motto Pax or "peace".   When I was in the Holy Land last May and visited Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem I felt a special kinship with the monks of the Abbey when I noticed that they had a peace pole near their front entrance, the same peace pole we have just outside our Whitby Museum and Gift Shop. Saint Benedict in his Rule makes several references to peace such as "Let peace be your quest and aim." (Prologue 17) And his famous line from Chapter 4:73, "If you have a dispute with someone make peace before the sun goes down" which is an allusion to Ephesians 4:26. As committed as we are to praying for peace in countries that are thousands of miles away because we all belong to the human family and when my brother or sister is attacked in one part of the world it chips away at the fabric of our world, it can be infinitely more difficult when the disagreement is in our own house or when the people involved become "enemies" to each other. It is tempting in such situations to "give a hollow greeting of peace" (RB 4: 25) and move on as if nothing is wrong but "praying for [our] enemies out of love for Christ" (RB 4:72)  demands love and mercy toward the other. Sometimes the seriousness of the disagreement requires vigiling and fasting because all other human means have been exhausted.

Saint Benedict is a wise teacher when he asks us to pray the "Our Father" at the end of the Liturgy of the Hours so that we might become aware of and take care of any unresolved disagreements before the end of the day. And so I leave us with the question: "How can I do my part to bring peace to my little corner of the world?"  If I do it will have repercussions all around the world.  Pax

Peace Pole

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