“Earthly peace is the image and fruit of the peace of Christ, the messianic ‘Prince of Peace’. By the blood of his Cross, “in his own person he killed hostility”, he reconciled men with God and made his Church the sacrament of the unity of the human race and of its union with God. “He is our peace.” (CEC 2305)
As we witness the appalling images of death and destruction coming out of Ukraine and many – including some national leaders – behave as if helpless in the face of the atrocities being committed, such an attitude of helplessness can never be the response of a Christian who lives the faith.
Christians have received from Jesus the vocation to be artisans of peace, and not pacifists or dreamers of peace. Through our baptism, we have become children of God and, as Jesus clearly said in his statement, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” the true children of God are those who restore and build peace (Matthew 5:9). .
To be a follower of the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:5) means to be a peacemaker. At the Last Supper, Jesus gave us and left us his peace (John 14:27) and confirmed this gift with his first words to the apostles after his resurrection: “Peace be with you” (John 20:19) . He sent his disciples from city to city and even from house to house to offer this gift of peace (Matthew 10:12) and spoke regularly about the conditions – such as brotherhood, humility and forgiveness – that are necessary for a lasting peace.
To be a faithful Christian is to be on the front line in the battle for peace. It means living by the terms of Christ’s definitive plan of peace and engaging in arduous community effort to lead peoples on the path to peace (Luke 1:79). This does not mean embracing utopian fantasies that disregard the consequence of the existence of evil, chosen by rulers who attack and bomb rather than love their neighbors. Nor does it mean forgetting the essential responsibilities of leaders to protect their peoples against unjust attacks and to repair the harm suffered, including, where appropriate, by trying by just and proportionate means to defeat the aggressor and to restore the justice.
But since peace is both a divine gift and the fruit of human effort, peacemaking involves two interconnected activities: imploring God for the gift of peace; and collaborate in the long and demanding battle to overcome evil with good.
This involves, first, prayer. Holy Scripture is full of believers’ prayers for peace and God’s answer. We see the miracles performed for the Israelites in Egypt, the Jews in Babylon, Samson before the Philistines, Esther before Ahasuerus, the prophets before corrupt rulers, the Maccabees before the Greeks, and so many other examples where people prayed as if their life depended on it. on it, because, in fact, they did. The Psalms are also filled with prayers that the Lord grant us peace, that we seek it and pursue it, that peace and righteousness marry (29:11; 34:15; 85:11).
In the face of war, prayer is not an escape. It is not a placebo taken as a substitute for a real drug that could treat conflict cancer. It is a recognition that only intervention from above can help untie seemingly unbreakable knots. It is also a means by which our gaze can go beneath the surface of history and entrenched animosities to a source of peace even deeper than the legacy of sin.
To bring peace to the world, as Pope Saint John Paul II wrote in his Post from 1992 for the World Day of Peace, before human resources, it takes “intense, humble, confident and persevering prayer”. This is because “prayer is ultimate the power necessary to implore this peace and obtain it. It gives courage and support to all who love this good and wish to promote it. He added that because prayer is the authentic expression of a right relationship with God and others, it is already a positive contribution to peace and a hopeful witness, even in the most seemingly difficult circumstances, that “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
In terms of the prayers that Catholic peacemakers can offer, the first will always remain the Mass, through which we enter into the prayer of Christ from the Cenacle and Calvary in which he signed with blood the definitive peace treaty for the genre human. At Mass we turn to him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world and implore: “Grant us peace. We implore him: “Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your apostles: ‘I leave you peace, I give you my peace; look not at our sins but at the faith of your Church, and graciously grant her peace and unity according to your will. We grant ourselves the peace of the Lord, and with God’s blessing we are sent back in peace to proclaim the gospel of the Lord and glorify Him with our lives.
Catholic tradition has also prized the Rosary as a prayer for peace, especially since the miraculous victory of the Christian fleet at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, apparently because of the Rosary prayers in Rome led by Pope Saint Pius V. This privileged prayer to the Queen of Peace has been effectively invoked in times of conflict and regularly offered by popes as a prayer for peace.
In his apostolic letter of 2002 on the Rosary, Saint John Paul II said: “One cannot recite the Rosary without feeling taken in a clear commitment to advance peace”. Through it, we learn the “secret of peace”, grow in “hope that even today the difficult ‘battle’ for peace can be won” and are inspired to make peace our “project of life”. In a word, he says, “by fixing our gaze on Christ, the Rosary makes us artisans of peace in the world”.
The second thing involved in peacemaking is action, which comes from prayer. Rather than “offering an escape from the problems of the world,” John Paul II insists that prayer “compels us to see them with responsible and generous eyes.” Prayer reminds us that God is always with us. It encourages us to tackle even the most intractable problems with patience, realism, perseverance and hope. It urges us to implore God to make us “instruments” of his peace and to bear witness, by all the means at our disposal, to the “gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15), cooperating with other believers. and all persons of good faith. will in the immense work to achieve it.
So, in the face of the situation in Ukraine and other conflicts in our world, we are not helpless spectators. On the contrary, through prayer and the charity that flows from it, we are influential participants as peacemakers who live up to our identity as children of God.
This is why we pray and act with confidence, as followers of the Risen Prince of Peace, who defeated the crucifixion, snatched victory from the clutches of death, and brought the greatest good out of the greatest evil.