The World Day of Peace is celebrated on January 1. The Pope’s message for the 2013 observance, entitled “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” was released by the Vatican on December 14th.
In his message, the Pope says that “the desire for peace is an essential aspiration” of all men. “Man is made for peace, which is God’s gift,” he writes, adding that “peace is both a messianic gift and the fruit of human effort.”
Cary and I have often said we believe we are called to the work we are doing. We believe in peacemaking and in our work with families we feel it is so necessary now to show people that the family is such a key component of peace to the structure of society and that the family is the fertile ground where people begin to understand the dynamics of creating a peaceful human relationship that touches all our relationships.
The Pope goes on to say: “The denial of what makes up the true nature of human beings in its essential dimensions, its intrinsic capacity to know the true and the good and, ultimately, to know God Himself, jeopardizes peacemaking.” We all know the truth and the good yet we are constantly being taught and pushed away from that truth….and we do not even realize it. We have so lost access to our own conscience…to a harsh examination of self…by the mountain of sentimentalization and feel-good stuff we see every day that we refuse to hear that small voice within us anymore. We label that small voice weak or judgmental or intolerant or a host of other names. Perhaps…but if you are not hearing that voice, examining it, using your reason with it…then you are simply ignoring reality within you and being seduced by others. You give up your access to truth. This is truly what jeopardizes peacemaking.
Educating about peace requires, says the Pope, educating about love. This begins in the family. This was his message of peace for 2012. For Love takes delight in truth, it is the force that enables us to make a commitment to truth, to justice, to peace, because it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (cf. 1 Cor 13:1-13). We are no longer learning love like this in the family. The presence of parents is usurped by the frenetic pace of life: working, activities, worries about the future. All of these things make the family unstable and rob all members of the opportunity to love:
“by sharing more deeply in the journey of life and thus to pass on experiences and convictions gained with the passing of years, experiences and convictions which can only be communicated by spending time together. I would urge parents not to grow disheartened! May they encourage children by the example of their lives to put their hope before all else in God, the one source of authentic justice and peace.”
Families must slow down. They must turn off the television. They must spend time together and with others in the community and in healthy, positive, life-affirming activities. This is not easy. My own family struggles with this every day…I mean every day. We by no means have mastered it yet I continue to push. The sacrament of confession helps me know my conscience and myself better and it infuses me with the grace of Christ to move forward. It helps me to trust God more and move my family into a deeper more meaningful relationship with the Lord that will produce peacemakers of all of us. My trust in the Lord has never been greater and the peace I experience and the “letting go” of the stress and the pressures of keeping up with everybody and everything is a welcome relief. The Lord will provide and move us where He needs us to go. Seek first His righteousness and all else, baseball and hockey careers, money, fun, good schools, retirement….will be provided.
For this year, the Pope goes further pointing out that we must cultivate clear and valid moral points of reference. These will only come for a clear and forceful examination of consciousness because the truth lies in all of us. We must also, within our own families, promote and teach acts of peacemaking.
“In the end, we see clearly the need to propose and promote a pedagogy of peace. This calls for a rich interior life, clear and valid moral points of reference, and appropriate attitudes and lifestyles. Acts of peacemaking converge for the achievement of the common good; they create interest in peace and cultivate peace. Thoughts, words and gestures of peace create a mentality and a culture of peace, and a respectful, honest and cordial atmosphere. There is a need, then, to teach people to love one another, to cultivate peace and to live with good will rather than mere tolerance. A fundamental encouragement to this is “to say no to revenge, to recognize injustices, to accept apologies without looking for them, and finally, to forgive”, in such a way that mistakes and offences can be acknowledged in truth, so as to move forward together towards reconciliation. This requires the growth of a pedagogy of pardon.”
Families this is so important and yet we are so far away from it. We all know it as we read those words. We do not forgive or pardon. We are proud, arrogant in our own ways and thoughts. We see only ourselves, our own children, our own values. This is not a pedagogy of pardon. We must look to the life of Christ Himself, our Saviour whom many of us profess to worship. His life was one of pardon and love. He calls us to imitate Him. Bear the pain as He bore His cross. Teach your children humility, compassion, empathy, love. Show that love yourself. The family must rise up and show itself the force to be reckoned with against the media and culture that strives to divide the family, water it down, redefine the truth of family and familial love.
So as I wait for the coming of the Child King this year I revel in the beauty and the graciousness of God who has affirmed for me my calling in the work I do. I give Him glory and praise especially by conforming my life to Him and praying for families to stand up and be counted among His chosen. Do not be fearful for He is with us always.