Tuesday, December 27, 2016

New Year's Day: An Opportunity to Work, Pray for Peace

San Agustín Church, Havana, Cuba
Surrounded by violence and cries for justice, we hear your voice telling us what is required...“Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).,,Fill us with your mercy so that we, in turn, may be merciful to others. Strip away pride, suspicion, and racism so that we may seek peace and justice in our communities.. Strengthen our hearts so that they beat only to the rhythm of your holy will. Flood our path with your light as we walk humbly toward a future filled with encounter and unity....Be with us, O Lord, in our efforts, for only by the prompting of your grace can we progress toward virtue.   -Excerpt from Prayer for Peace in Our Communities,  Therese Wilson-Favors
How are you celebrating New Year's Day? One option is to watch football, spend day with your family, relax, and draw a list of resolutions. Ah, yes. Resolutions are very personal goals, most often related on how we can become more disciplined persons.

Let's say that we make those resolutions more global: not only wishing for world peace, but also praying daily and taking small and broad actions to help the peace process.  After all, Jan. 1, has traditionally been the World Day of Peace for 50 years. Pope Paul VI marked this day on Jan. 1, 1967, inspired by the encyclical letter Pacem in terris (Peace on Earth), written by his predecessor Pope John XXIII in April 1963 urging nuclear non-proliferation.

In his Message for the 50th World Day of Peace, Pope Francis urges families, faith communities, government leaders, and the international community to practice non-violence and work to build a just peace.

Catholics Confront Global Poverty (CCGP), a joint project by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services, offers us ways to incorporate peacemaking into our New Year's Day observances.

"As we seek to respond to this call, we can be inspired by numerous contemporary examples, including Catholic Relief Services’ peace and conflict resolution training in Central African Republic and the work of Catholics in the U.S. to build peace in their local communities," said CCGP.

Here are some recommendations from CCGP

St. Saviour Episcopal Church, Bar Harbor, Maine
1. Pray. Use the Prayer for Peace in Our Communities (excerpt above) with your family, school, faith community, or in other settings.

2. Learn. Read the U.S. Catholic bishops’ The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace (bit.ly/harvest-justice) especially the section on “Two Traditions: Nonviolence and Just War.” How do these words challenge you? Learn about how faith communities are working for peace around the United States and world How might the Holy Spirit be calling your community to respond? Look for reflections on Pope Francis’ World Day of Peace message on the USCCB blog To Go Forth.

3. Act. Join tens of thousands of others to advocate for policies that build peace at home and around the world. For current action alerts, visit the Catholics Confront Global Poverty site and USCCB Action Center.

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