“ … when tragic events seem to overwhelm our lives, we are called to keep our hearts open to hope and to trust in God, who makes himself present, accompanies us with tenderness, sustains us in our weariness and, above all, guides our path.”
There is light even in our darkest hour
In mid-December Pope Francis released his message for the World Day of Peace celebrated on 1 January 2023, recalling that all crises are interconnected and that we must not forget any of them, but work for the good of humanity. Sunday 15th January is ‘Peace Sunday’, an opportunity to revisit the words of Pope Francis as an inspiration to live ‘peace’ each day of our lives. The following are a few extracts from this message:
There is light even in the darkest hour, says Pope Francis, before going on to use the Covid-19 pandemic as an example: “The pandemic seems to have upset even the most peaceful parts of our world, and exposed any number of forms of fragility.”
Three years later, he stresses, “the time is right to question, learn, grow and allow ourselves to be transformed as individuals and as communities” reminding us, as he has done before, that “we never emerge the same from times of crisis: we emerge either better or worse.”
This experience has made us all the more aware of the need for everyone, including peoples and nations, to restore the word “together” to a central place in our lexicon. Only the peace that comes from a fraternal and disinterested love can help us overcome personal, societal and global crises.
“Our greatest and yet most fragile treasure is our shared humanity as brothers and sisters, children of God. None of us can be saved alone.”
The virus of war
While a vaccine has been found for Covid-19, suitable solutions have not yet been found for the war.
“Certainly, the virus of war is more difficult to overcome than the viruses that compromise our bodies, because it comes, not from outside of us, but from within the human heart corrupted by sin.”
“What then is being asked of us?” the Pope asks, in light of all these difficult times: “First of all, to let our hearts be changed by our experience of the crisis.”
In fact, he explains: “we can no longer think exclusively of carving out space for our personal or national interests, (…) instead we must think in terms of the common good.”
We cannot, however, ignore one fundamental fact, he continues: “Many moral, social, political and economic crises we are experiencing are all interconnected, and what we see as isolated problems are actually causes and effects of one another.”
Pope Francis calls on all those in positions of responsibility and on all men and women of goodwill:
“to revisit the issue of ensuring public health for all”; to “promote actions that enhance peace and put an end to the conflicts and wars that continue to spawn poverty and death”; “to join in caring for our common home and in implementing clear and effective measures to combat climate change”; “to battle the virus of inequality and to ensure food and dignified labour for all, supporting those who lack even a minimum wage and find themselves in great difficulty.”
“To all men and women of goodwill, I express my prayerful trust that, as artisans of peace, they may work, day by day, to make this a good year!”
Let us live fully all that brings us ‘Together for Peace’.
Vow of Non-Violence
Recognising the violence in my own heart, yet trusting in the goodness and mercy of God, I vow to practice the non-violence of Jesus who
taught us in the Sermon on the Mount:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God…You have learned how it was said, ‘You must love
your neighbour and hate your enemy,’ but I say to you, ‘Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. In this way, you
will be daughters and sons of your Creator in heaven.”
- by striving for peace within myself and seeking to be a peacemaker in my daily life;
- by refusing to retaliate in the face of provocation and violence;
- by persevering in non-violence of tongue and heart;
- by living conscientiously and simply so that I do not deprive others of the means to live;
- by actively resisting evil and working non-violently to abolish war and the causes of war from my own heart and from the face of
- God, I trust in Your sustaining love and believe that just as You gave me the grace and desire to offer this, so You will also bestow
abundant grace to fulfill it.
(Prayer text, ‘Vow of Non-Violence’ – Pax Christi USA)
See Pope Francis – Message for World Day of Peace 2023