Pray for Peace in 2010

Tomorrow is the first day of 2010. It is also the World Day of Peace. Paul VI declared the first World Day of Peace in 1968 by proclaiming a message of peace on that day. Pope Benedict XVI has continued this tradition. His 2010 message is absolutely amazing and a must read: "If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation." The title alone is clever and full of meaning - drawing upon Paul VI's own famous catchphrase - "If you want peace, work for justice."

As a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace, I was also very pleased to see that the Holy Father is making the connection between care for creation and peacemaking. Regular readers may remember that those are the two main Chapter Acts for my Congregation: Growing in Nonviolence and Care for Creation.
He puts to rest any concerns that care for the environment is not a Catholic issue. To the contrary, he frames it quite clearly as a life issue and a responsibility of the Church.

The entire 2010 World Day of Peace Message is on the web. Pope Benedict XVI is a theologian and a very clear writer. I've also heard he wants to be known as the "Green Pope" - he's even working on making the Vatican the first "carbon neutral state." The message is definitely worth reading and praying with the entire document.

I also thought I'd also invite my bloggy friends to pray a prayer written by our CSJP Care for Creation Core Group. It includes excerpts from the Pope's message and our CSJP Constitutions. Please join me in praying for peace in our world!


"If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation"
Pope Benedict XVI's 2010 World Day of Peace Message

Opening Prayer: God of all creation, we believe that peace is your gift to us, a gift we experience and enjoy now, though not in its completeness. With reverence for the blessings of creation, we commit ourselves to work for a more just society where all may be enriched by a more equitable sharing in Earth's bounty. Amen
(Adapted from CSJP Constitutions 1 & 56).

Reading & Response ~ Pope Benedict XVI's 2010 World Day of Peace Message

"Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions?" (Benedict XVI)

Response: We respond to God's people in need and promote social justice as a way to peace. (CSJP Constitution 11)

"Can we disregard the growing phenomenon of 'environmental refugees,' people who are forced by the degradation of their natural habitat to forsake it - and often their possessions as well - in order to face the dangers and uncertainties of forced displacement?"

Response: We respond to God's people in need and promote social justice as a way to peace.

"Can we remain impassive in the face of actual and potential conflicts involving access to natural resources? All these are issues with a profound impact on the exercise of human rights, such as the right to life, food, health and development. "

Response: We respond to God's people in need and promote social justice as a way to peace.

"It is becoming more and more evident that the issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our life-style and the prevailing models of consumption and production, which are often unsustainable from a social, environmental and even economic point of view."

Response: We respond to God's people in need and promote social justice as a way to peace.

"The Church has a responsibility towards creation, and she considers it her duty to exercise that responsibility in public life, in order to protect earth, water and air as gifts of God the Creator meant for everyone, and above all to save [humanity] from the danger of self-destruction."

Response: We respond to God's people in need and promote social justice as a way to peace.

Closing Prayer: In unity with the church and with all of creation, we give praise and thanks to the Giver of all gifts. We open ourselves to the liberating power of God whose Spirit in us leads to peace. Amen. (CSJP Constitution 28)


Anonymous said...

Today I have finally been able to out my finger on what I've neen needing to say for a long time but didn't know how. Your entry today gave me a breakthrough. I finally realize that I'd be able to approach your blog, Sister, with far greater trust as a Catholic, if on a day like today, when you write about Jan. 1, you would also have acknowledged that today is the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, a holy day of obligation in the Church. I can't help but wonder if there isn't some mysterious resistance to the Church going on when a nun writes a piece specifically to explain the religious significance of a special day, without mentioning at all the meaning behind a feast sufficiently significant to be marked as a holy day of obligation. I have paid almost no attention to the press surrounding the resistance to the Vatican Sisters' Visitation, but I want to suggest to you and to some of the other dear nuns, that's it's this kind of stuff (nuanced, indirect, naive) that just seems to veer away from the Church while proclaiming that it is in fact in direct correpondence to the Church, that makes me wonder if eveytthing is all right or not.

Susan Rose Francois, CSJP said...

Thank you so much for your message. I really appreciate you taking the time to articulate your concerns.

As you point out, today is in fact the Solemnity of Mary. I just returned from our motherhouse, where I attended our community liturgy for this feast day. It is such a wonderful way to begin the new year, asking Mary, the Mother of God who brings us the hope and promise of peace, to guide us on our journey this year.

As a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace, I try to highlight the Holy Father's World Day of Peace message each year, because they are always so rich and challenging to us as Catholics and to the whole world really. Sadly, they also do not get much press. My little blog here is one way I can help to bring attention to this more recent tradition of our Roman church.

To highlight the connection between this Church Feast Day of both the Solemnity of Mary and World Day of Peace, I'd like to quote Pope Paul VI from his 1974 Encyclical, Marialis Cultus:

"In the revised ordering of the Christmas period it seems to us that the attention of all should be directed towards the restored Solemnity of Mary the holy Mother of God. This celebration, placed on January 1 in conformity with the ancient indication of the liturgy of the City of Rome, is meant to commemorate the part played by Mary in this mystery of salvation. It is meant also to exalt the singular dignity which this mystery brings to the "holy Mother...through whom we were found worthy to receive the Author of life."(17) It is likewise a fitting occasion for renewing adoration of the newborn Prince of Peace, for listening once more to the glad tidings of the angels (cf. Lk. 2:14), and for imploring from God, through the Queen of Peace, the supreme gift of peace. It is for this reason that, in the happy concurrence of the Octave of Christmas and the first day of the year, we have instituted the World Day of Peace, an occasion that is gaining increasing support and already bringing forth fruits of peace in the hearts of many."

Thank you again for your willingness to honest and open dialogue.

Blessing of Peace,
Sister Susan

Ave said...

Anonymous -
Mary is the mother of creation. In May we crown her with flowers; in October offer her the fruits of the Harvest. She is clothed with the sun. Consider these lines from the great litany to Mary:
Cedar of Mount Lebanon,
Cypress of Mount Zion,
Purple rose of the land of Israel,
O flowering like a palm,
O fruitful like the olive tree.

Do you object to the Pope's message? Take it up with him. Have you read St. Agustine's City of God? Pay attention to the second half.

Finally, identify yourself. Do not hide your faith.

Anonymous said...

Sister Susan Rose, Thank you for your kind response to my efforts to understand. I had a beautiful sense that your heard and listened to me in the midst of confusion over the issues I put forward. Thank you. As you will have imagined, your words contributed helpfully to my still-incomplete sense of understanding the various sides of this complex dynamic in our Church.

On another score, Sister, I am only new to the visitation of blogs and I am beginning to suspect there are protocols involved of which I am unaware. It frightens me to think that any comment of mine would have eventuated the angry words left by pseudonymous "Ave" beneath our exchange. Are those comments directed to another or to me? If I have offended web-blog protocol somehow, please show me how and I will make amends. I was greatly disturbed (horrified, actually) to read that someone could have misconstrued my comments as an objection to the Holy Father's words and it has taken me several days to mount up the courage to come back. At this time I chose to remain anonymous because I understand this is allowed. Is it the expected norm that I am to create a pseudonym here? Certainly confused.

Susan Rose Francois, CSJP said...

Dear Friends,

I welcome anonymous, "pseunonymous" (what a clever term), and self-identified comments here.

That said, I reserve the right, as my comments policy on the home page says, to delete "threatening, libelous or otherwise inappropriate comments."

I did not feel that either you comments - anonymous - or Ave's comments were any of these things, but rather honest attempts at understanding. Blogs are a tricky thing. They allow us to cross boundaries and share in ways that we never even dared to imagine before! And yet, because of distance in space and time and differences in tone that the writers may intend but can't really come across, misunderstandings sometimes abound.

That's why I started moderating comments some years back. I have seen much "flaming" (think of defamation and add the ease of the internet and you'll get a sense of what I mean by that) in the blogosphere, especially I'm sad to say in Catholic blogs.

I don't welcome that here, and so I suppose that's why most of my commentors are kind souls seeking understanding and dialogue. Which I of course encourage and welcome!

Only Ave can say what she (or he - I actually have always assume Ave is a she but that may or may not be true) meant by that comment. I suspect that as a regular reader she may have felt through her own reading of our comments exchange that she needed to defend me. If so I am grateful for the well meaning intent.

But I also am grateful to my anonymous commenter for returning and continuing the dialogue.

I suspect many who read this blog may come at the expression of their Catholic faith (or other faith/spiritual tradition) in a different way than I do. But I also suspect that anyone who is interested in reading this blog of a Sister of Peace seeking her way in the world and the blogosphere is most likely also a seeker of our good and gracious God. And if so, I welcome you.

Peace my friends!