Saturday, September 7, 2013

"My Christian faith urges me to look to the Cross"

By most media accounts, around 100,000 people turned up in St. Peter's Square for the Vigil for Peace led by the Holy Father himself. While there are a few other things on my mind, nothing is more important today, at least for me, than the Universal Church praying for peace in Syria, Egypt, throughout the Middle East, and the whole world. I was greatly blessed to gather with around fifty people in The Cathedral of the Madeleine today to pray the Rosary and have adoration of and benediction with the Blessed Sacrament.

In his remarks at the Vigil he called for last Sunday during his weekly Angelus address, Pope Francis asked, "Is it possible to walk the path of peace? Can we get out of this spiral of sorrow and death? Can we learn once again to walk and live in the ways of peace?" He concluded that, yes, with God's help through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Salus Populi Romani (i.e., Health, or Help, of the Roman people), Queen of Peace, "it is possible for everyone!"

Madonna in Glory, by Carlo Dolci, ca. 1670
From every corner of the world tonight, I would like to hear us cry out: Yes, it is possible for everyone! Or even better, I would like for each one of us, from the least to the greatest, including those called to govern nations, to respond: Yes, we want it! My Christian faith urges me to look to the Cross. How I wish that all men and women of good will would look to the Cross if only for a moment! There, we can see God’s reply: violence is not answered with violence, death is not answered with the language of death. In the silence of the Cross, the uproar of weapons ceases and the language of reconciliation, forgiveness, dialogue, and peace is spoken. This evening, I ask the Lord that we Christians, and our brothers and sisters of other religions, and every man and woman of good will, cry out forcefully: violence and war are never the way to peace!
Preparing for our penultimate (like "fortnight," I can never find enough places to use "penultimate") meeting to discuss the Letter to the Hebrews this Wednesday, I was reading the twelfth chapter of this book of Sacred Scripture this morning. Undoubtedly due to the focus of the Church on this day, I was struck by verse 14, which says, "Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord." These types of verses, which stand up quite well on their own, are often overlooked. The Greek word for "Strive," which is sometimes translated as "Pursue," is dioko. In this context it means "to seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavor to acquire." In other words, we are to be the initiators of peace!

In tune with what the Holy Father said, I am reminded of what St. Paul writes elsewhere in Scripture: "For in [Christ] all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross, whether those on earth or those in heaven" (Col 1:19-20).

If I may be so bold, please permit one more personal aside. Since the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary will, rightly, be superseded by Sunday tomorrow, instead praying Evening Prayer I of Week III of the Psalter, I prayed Evening Prayer for the Blessed Virgin's Nativity. The first psalm for this office is Psalm 122, which is surely a prayer for peace. It ends with these words-

For love of my brethren and friends
I say: "Peace be upon you!"
For love of the house of the Lord
I will ask for your good.

No comments:

Post a Comment