Prayer and the desire to work together commit us to a true peace that is not illusory: not the calm of one who avoids difficulties and turns away, if his personal interests are not at risk; it is not the cynicism of one who washes his hands of any problem that is not his; it is not the virtual approach of one who judges everything and everyone using a computer keyboard, without opening his eyes to the needs of his brothers and sisters, and dirtying his hands for those in need.
Peace, a thread of hope that unites earth to heaven, a word so simple and difficult at the same time. Peace means Welcome , openness to dialogue, the overcoming of closed-mindedness, which is not a strategy for safety, but rather a bridge over an empty space. Peace means Cooperation , a concrete and active exchange with another, who is a gift and not a problem, a brother or sister with whom to build a better world. Peace denotes Education , a call to learn every day the challenging art of communion, to acquire a culture of encounter, purifying the conscience of every temptation to violence and stubbornness which are contrary to the name of God and human dignity.
We who are here together and in peace believe and hope in a fraternal world. We desire that men and women of different religions may everywhere gather and promote harmony, especially where there is conflict. Our future consists in living together. For this reason we are called to free ourselves from the heavy burdens of distrust, fundamentalism and hate.
Believers should be artisans of peace in their prayers to God and in their actions for humanity! As religious leaders, we are duty bound to be strong bridges of dialogue, creative mediators of peace. Men and women of various religions, we gather as pilgrims in the city of Saint Francis. Thirty years ago in , religious representatives from all over the world met here at the invitation of Pope John Paul II.
It was the first such solemn gathering that brought so many together, in order to affirm the indissoluble bond between the great good of peace and an authentic religious attitude. From that historic event, a long pilgrimage was begun which has touched many cities of the world, involving many believers in dialogue and in praying for peace.
It has brought people together without denying their differences, giving life to real interreligious friendships and contributing to the resolution of more than a few conflicts. This is the spirit that animates us: to bring about encounters through dialogue, and to oppose every form of violence and abuse of religion which seeks to justify war and terrorism. And yet, in the years that have followed, numerous populations have nonetheless been painfully wounded by war.
People do not always understand that war harms the world, leaving in its wake a legacy of sorrows and hate. In war, everyone loses, including the victors. We have prayed to God, asking him to grant peace to the world. We recognize the need to pray constantly for peace, because prayer protects the world and enlightens it. War in the name of religion becomes a war against religion itself.
Meditating the Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi
With firm resolve, therefore, we reiterate that violence and terrorism are opposed to an authentic religious spirit. We have heard the voice of the poor, of children and the younger generations, of women and so many brothers and sisters who are suffering due to war. With them let us say with conviction: No to war! May the anguished cry of the many innocents not go unheeded. May there be a greater commitment to eradicating the underlying causes of conflicts: poverty, injustice and inequality, the exploitation of and contempt for human life.
There are different forms of hospitality available to those who are walking
May a new season finally begin, in which the globalized world can become a family of peoples. This is radical today. St Francis himself went to the Middle East and the Crusades to make peace with opposing warriors. Why won't you? Who are those who embrace hatred in your world? And how can you make peace with them? Maybe there is hatred in your office, in your family or elsewhere-be the first to reconcile, to begin anew. Where there is injury, pardon: we all get "injured" in life by another's words or deeds, by physical harm and sickness.
Maria Goretti was stabbed eighteen times in an assault by a man and then died. The man was thrown in the slammer and, by God's Grace, eventually repented, reformed and was released-as a practicing Catholic. He became a third-order Franciscan and then went to visit Maria Goretti's mom and asked for forgiveness.
She said: "Maria forgave and you and so do I. Where there is doubt, faith: Atheism means a person doesn't believe in God; agnosticism means a person doesn't think anything can be known about God. We are called to alleviate these two sicknesses by proposing Jesus-God-in-the-Flesh to folks. Proposing Him, mind you, not imposing Him upon others. He is the answer to all doubts.
Living the 'Prayer of St. Francis' With All of Creation
One time the President welcomed a youth delegation of outstanding citizens for awards. As all were leaving the Oval office, one young man noticed he was last in leaving-with the President himself. So, he stopped and, looking troubled, said: "Mr President, can you do me a favor? The young man explained that a relative was very sick and would soon be undergoing serious surgery. He then asked the President to pray for this intention.
The inquirer expected, from the busiest and most powerful and important man on earth, only for the President to say "Yes, I'll pray for him. The young man wept. Amidst the young man's doubts abut his relative and also about busy, powerful people, the President dispelled all this and boosted the man's Faith!
How can you do the same for others? Where there is darkness- let me sow light:. Jesus is "the Light of the world" , and yet there is still darkness and suffering. People sometimes think it darkness masquerading as light will bring them happiness-in witchcraft, pornography, crime, drugs and drink. Only the One True God can bring ultimate happiness. We have other kinds of darkness, too.
A soul once went to a psyche wing of a hospital for treatment and healing. Well, in the midst of this pilgrim's "dark night of the soul," they never forgot their spirituality-it was, thankfully, etched in the "spiritual sonar" of the soul thru the holy habits previously practiced for decades! This wayfarer gave out holy cards, invited people to prayer and helped others learn the St Jude novena for "hopeless causes". This wounded soul was a light in darkness. Jesus likewise teaches us in the Stations of the Cross-"Christ Comforts the Women of Jerusalem"-- that, even amidst personal afflictions-we can still be instrument-healers: Spread the Light!
We are doing this because we are Catholic Christians, and we spent about a dozen years outside of the Church's teaching on contraception. Please use the money as you see fit, but we would prefer it to either assist a couple who is being tempted to contracept, or to promote the Church's teaching on why contraception is evil. Where there is sadness-joy:. Who isn't sad these days? There are plenty of people who suffer interior depressions and darkness. Americans spend at least 10 billion dollars a year on prescription drugs and medications.
Today there are amusement parks, game-shows and gameboys, computers, magazines, and fantasy shows, extreme sports, "reality TV" and the Consumerist Complex to make one repress sadness and try to solve it thru inappropriate means. All this illusion equals unhappiness and endless catering to the ego and false, craving, unfulfillable self. Being a man of prayer he was probably sad-for a while, but then, after I asked him if he was upset or scared about his prognosis, he said: "Well, I pray for the grace to be ordained June 4, and be God's instrument as a holy priest.
That would be great. But, if God's will is something else, then I hopefully will be saved and be with him forever in Heaven. Either way, it's a win-win situation.
How can you help others in their sadness to be awakened? The worst human emotion-commotion is despair: for one seemingly implodes upon oneself and finds no light-anywhere. Despair is the feeling when, as we say, "all is lost. One time a woman was mourning since her husband's death. They were married 35 yrs. She was home crying. Then, one lonely evening she heard the nearby church bells tolling for Mass. A thought occurred: Jesus is there in the sacrifice of the Mass.
I must go. He will help me.
The bells signaled an end to her despair-for the All, Christ Jesus, was nearby: "I will never leave you as orphans" Jn How can you be a ringing "signal bell" for another soul to bring comfort and liberation? O Divine Master, grant that I may rather console than be consoled:.
We believe, however, in the meek and humble strength of prayer. On this day, the thirst for peace has become a prayer to God, that wars, terrorism and violence may end. We seek in God, who is the source of communion, the clear waters of peace for which humanity thirsts: these waters do not flow from the deserts of pride and personal interests, from the dry earth of profit at any cost and the arms trade. Our religious traditions are diverse.
But our differences are not the cause of conflict and dispute, or a cold distance between us. We have not prayed against one another today, as has unfortunately sometimes occurred in history.
Without syncretism or relativism, we have rather prayed side by side and for each other. We never tire of repeating that the name of God cannot be used to justify violence. Peace alone is holy. Peace alone is holy, not war! Today we have pleaded for the holy gift of peace. We have prayed that consciences will be mobilized to defend the sacredness of human life, to promote peace between peoples and to care for creation, our common home.