October 2, 2009

Faith, Hope and Charity / David Siler

Make me a channel of your peace

David SilerFor most of us, Sept. 21, 2009, came and went like any other day.

Hopefully, the message is spreading and some of you were aware that this day marked the 10th anniversary of “Peace One Day.” Hopefully, you could all sense an extra measure of peace in the air that day.

In 2001, the United Nations unanimously adopted a resolution to formally establish an annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence. The U.N. International Day of Peace is fixed on the global calendar on the 21st day of September.

If there is one thing that our world, our nation, our states, cities, towns and neighborhoods could use a bit more of, it is certainly peace. And like the song that we have all sung hundreds of times, “let it begin with me.”

It is easy to look at the major conflicts in the world or the current debate over health care in our own country or any conflict in our own home and think that, “If only he or she would … ,” then we would have peace. But as the song “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and the Gospel remind us, we are all responsible for bringing about peace.

I invite each of us to consider these questions: What can I do today to bring about more peace in the world? With whom do I need to reconcile a broken relationship? Who has been a recipient of my anger that needs an apology? Who do I know that needs me to pray for peace for them?

I have learned over the years by observing all kinds of conflicts—and having stirred up a few on my own—that violence only begets violence. This violence does not have to be obvious to another, but can rather be as simple as violent thoughts. Violent thoughts create an energy that cannot help but find a place to land where some kind of damage will be done.

You can test this theory by simply thinking about someone toward whom you have some animosity and observe the energy in your body—your heart rate will increase as will your blood pressure. We can probably all remember a time when we have had a difficult encounter at work, and we may come home and be quick to yell at our children or our spouse. Just as thoughts and prayers for peace can bring about peace, so too can thoughts of anger, violence or hatred bring about conflict of every kind.

Being a person of peace does not mean that we don’t take on the tough issues of our own time, but simply that we approach them with an attitude of peace. Just as our Savior did upon the cross, we can offer a prayer, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” And we can pray as St. Francis of Assisi taught us:“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”

Sept. 21 each year is just one day where we are invited to send out into the world nothing but thoughts and prayers for peace. Wouldn’t that be a good lesson for every day of the year?

To learn more about Peace One Day, log on to www.PeaceOneDay.org.

(David Siler is executive director of the Secretariat for Catholic Charities and Family Ministries. E-mail him at dsiler@archindy.org.)

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