Thursday, 13 January 2011

Peace Sunday

For the first time in a number of years, there will be a special collection at our church this Sunday in aid of Pax Christi. I support this international Catholic organisation, which aims:

* by the witness of its members, inspired by the word of God and the Eucharist, and acting in accordance with the spirit of the Beatitudes and of Christ’s commandment to fight injustice, to forgive one’s enemies and love one’s neighbour

* in considering the problems of the world and the church, to study the Christian peace ideal and to find ways of realising this in the light of the Gospel and

* by appropriate initiatives to promote this ideal among all people and institutions.

In his message for this year’s Peace Sunday, the Pope says, “I ask all Catholics for their prayers and support for their brethren in the faith who are victims of violence and intolerance.” In particular, he mentions the Christians of Iraq, but he could equally have referred to those in Egypt, India and Pakistan who have been in the recent news. The Holy Father goes on: “It is painful to think that in some areas of the world it is impossible to profess one’s religion freely except at the risk of life and personal liberty. In other areas we see more subtle and sophisticated forms of prejudice and hostility towards believers and religious symbols.” Maybe each of us has experienced a degree of this prejudice and hostility in our own lives.

I would commend the Pax Christi prayer:

Thank you loving God
For the gift of life
For this wonderful world which we all share
For the joy of love and friendship
For the challenge of helping to build your kingdom.

My determination to work for a world of peace and justice
My conviction that, whatever our nationality or race, we are all global citizens, one in Christ
My courage to challenge the powerful with the values of the Gospel
My commitment to find nonviolent ways of resolving conflict - personal, local, national and international
My efforts to forgive injuries and to love those I find it hard to love.

Teach me
To share the gifts you have given me
To speak out for the victims of injustice who have no voice
To reject the violence which runs through much of our world today.

Holy Spirit of God
Renew my hope for a world free from the cruelty and evil of war so that we may all come to share in God's peace and justice. Amen

The image was from our 2004 stay with Caroline's cousins in Asturias. The sea there is very rough - perfect, I thought, for surfing, and I borrowed a board. But I hadn't reckoned with the force of the undertow: it carried me out, and I had to be rescued, with difficulty, by the Spanish Baywatch equivalent. It was the last afternoon the beach was being monitored in that way: God was with me. The following evening, I took this photograph of a calmer-looking sea, but one I was fearful to re-enter.

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