Cultivation of Inner Peace: Indispensable to Building World Peace
Let us not forget that peace is born in the heart of a person. One can hardly bring peace in society, in the world, if there is no peace within oneself. Cultivation of inner peace is indispensable if there is to be peace around.
Let us remember St John Paul II who said in Assisi in 1986: “…there exists another dimension of peace, another way of promoting it… it is the result of prayer, which, in the diversity of religions, expresses a relationship with a supreme power that surpasses our human capacities alone” (Opening Address at the World Day of Prayer for Peace, Assisi 27 October 1986). St John Paul II concluded the Assisi event by stating that it is a unique event, unrepeatable but the spirit of Assisi must continue. This spirit has been uninterruptedly continued by the Community of Sant’Egidio.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis have added their voices to praying for peace. Pope Francis has not left any stone unturned to stop the madness of war. We need to join our voices to the cry of Pope Francis. To raise hands towards heaven in midst of war and pray for peace is urgent. For, to pray is not to escape from history and the problems which it presents. On the contrary, it is to choose to face reality not on our own, but with the strength that comes from on high, the strength of truth and love which have their ultimate source in God. Faced with treachery of evil, religious people can count on God, who absolutely wills what is good. They can pray to have courage to face even the greatest difficulties with a sense of personal responsibilities, never yielding to fatalism or impulsive reactions.
If You Are Looking for Peace, Go and Meet the Poor
From the Justice of Each Comes Peace for All. Unless you seek the good of one and all, peace is placed in jeopardy. Respect for rights of every human person is the foundation of peace.
Phenomenon of globalization is being imposed on people, especially the poor, without respect to solidarity among all people. Is everyone able to take advantage of a global market? Will everyone at last have a chance to enjoy peace? Will relations between States become more equitable, or will economic competition and rivalries between peoples and nations lead humanity towards situation of even greater instability? The challenge before us is to ensure a globalization in solidarity, a globalization without marginalization.
People are subjects of true development and they are also the aim of true development. The integral development of people is the goal and measure of all development projects. How about promoting values that truly benefit individuals and society? It is not enough to reach out and help those in need. We must help them to discover the values which enable them to build a new life and to take their rightful place in society with dignity and justice.
To Build Peace in the World needs Cooperation of All Religions
The human longing for peace is expressed by every religion. The meeting in Assisi in 1986 confirmed that peace is not only the result of skilful political and diplomatic negotiations or a compromise between economic interests, but depends in a fundamental way upon the One who knows human hearts and guides and directs the steps of all humanity.
Religions have an important role to play in establishing lasting peace in society. Religious leaders need to motivate their respective co-religionists in understanding the tenets of their own religious tradition. Religious believers are “messengers and artisans of peace”. The human longing for peace is expressed by every religion. If that longing is fundamental and essential to being human, then believers of every religion should support it, whether they be politicians, leaders of international organizations, businessmen and workers, associations and private citizens.
My own Reflection: Peace: The Root of Prayer (Preghiera: il Radice della Pace)
We are in the midst of prolonged war. We seem to feel helpless and even hopeless; as believers we can do something that is also effective to stop this ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine: “we must remember God more often than we draw breath” has said a saint. Authentic prayer of every believer is grounded in God who is a giver of peace. One who prays cannot consider himself the measure of prayer. Trust in God and trust in our neighbour makes essence of our prayer. We pray as we live and we live as we pray” (CCC, # 2725).
It is true that our prayer does not remove all sense of pain by the grace it wins for others. But it surely gives the armour of patience to those who suffer, who feel pain, who are distressed. Another renowned Saint, Tertullian, teaches, “…prayer brings strength to the weak, heals the sick, exorcises the possessed, opens prison cells, frees the innocent from their chains. Prayer cleanses from sin, drives away temptations, stamps out persecutions, comforts the fainthearted, gives new strength to the courageous, brings travelers safely home, calms the waves, confounds robbers, feeds the poor, overrules the rich, lifts up the fallen, supports those who are falling, sustains those who stand firm”. Tertullian, in his treatise, further teaches that “all the angels pray, every creature prays in their own fashion; the birds too rise and lift themselves up to heaven; they open out their wings, instead of hands, in the form of a cross, and give voice to what seems to be a prayer. Cattle and wild beasts pray and bend the knee” (Office of Reading, Thursday of the 3rd Week of Lent).
Although, on the one hand, one should avoid making prayer an instrument or a means to obtain one’s selfish desires, prayer, on the other hand, must not become an exercise in closing oneself in one’s private world. Transformation of the praying heart is the first response to the act of prayer. We must recognize and understand the world - the here and now - in which we live, its expectations, its longings, and its often-dramatic characteristics, some of which are: A true social and cultural transformation; abundance and wealth, resources of the earth, economic power must be shared with a huge proportion of the world’s citizens who are tormented by hunger and poverty, while countless number suffer from total illiteracy; and the question of peace. Never before today has the human person been so keenly aware of freedom, yet at the same time, new forms of social and psychological slavery make their appearance; the world of today has a very vivid sense of its unity and how one person depends on another in needful solidarity, as a result of which the world is torn into opposing camps by conflicting forces; finally, the human person painstakingly searches for a better world, without working with equal zeal for the betterment of his or her own spirit (Gaudium et spes, # 4), therefore, I would also emphatically mention here the need to take care today of the planet earth, “our common home”, and provision of proper healthcare as Covid-19 has “exposed our false securities…we witnessed a fragmentation that made our world more difficult to resolve problems that affect us all” (Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, # 7).