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Father Muench Says...

We are called to be people of peace

November 14, 2012

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

“Some More Urgent Problems”

This is the title of the second part of Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Latin name – Gaudium et Spes), the document that I considered with you last week

This week I would like to share with you one of these problems. The Vatican Council speaks out on peace in the world in the chapter is entitled “Fostering Peace and Establishment of a Community of Nations.” The Council calls upon all Catholics to make the world a better place by fostering peace.

As I again read this section, I immediately thought of the Sign of Peace at Mass, a rite that was added to the Mass after the Second Vatican Council.  The Sign of Peace is a wonderful way to remind us that we are called to be people of peace. 

Each time we turn to each other and offer some sign of God’s love and peace we have a unique opportunity to recognize our liturgical family, those with us at the Mass. 

This ritual demonstrates a sign of unity – our care and concern for each other – as we prepare to unite ourselves with the Prince of Peace in the Blessed Eucharist.  As we turn to each other, we are saying that our world could be so peaceful as we are today.

The document offers a plan for peace in the Spirit of Pope John XXlll who pleaded for peace in his encyclical letter, “Mater et Magister.”

The Council includes this call for peace simply because we follow in the spirit of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.  In that spirit, we must always work, plead and speak out for peace throughout the world.  
Now, I am fully aware that this message of the Second Vatican Council was written 50 years ago and our world has not experienced much peace in the years since then.

Yet, the Catholic Church continues – must continue – to be a voice that calls for peace.  The Council Fathers made it clear that this cause for peace is important to Catholics.  Some may say that peace in our world is impossible.

I say that we, Catholics, must never stop calling for peace, nor stop believing that peace is possible.  If we ever stop believing that peace is possible, all will be lost.

The message of peace of the Second Vatican Council in this Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World is summed up in this way, “The Council proposes to outline the true and noble nature of peace, to condemn the savagery of war, and earnestly to exhort Christians to cooperate with all in securing a peace based on justice and charity and in promoting the means necessary to attain it, under the help of Christ, author of peace.”

The Council goes on to challenge the Church – then and now, especially all Bishops and priests – to preach the Gospel and make “a contribution to the strengthening of peace over the whole world and help to consolidate the foundations of brotherly communion among all peoples.

The message of peace is meant for all the People of God – you and me right now– to be people of peace.  I see this in the lives of Catholics and Christians. I see this when a person lives with respect for all others in his or her community. I see this when parents strive to make their homes the most peaceful places on the face of the earth, caring in love for their children, teaching them how to establish good relationships within their families and with others.

I see this when people strive to form a real community spirit within their parish and community.  We may not change nations yet, when we make an effort to bring peace into our piece of the world, we have truly become peacemakers.

Peace is not just some sort of sitting around quietly and avoiding others – although that may be good at times. Peace may demand that we challenge ourselves and others to do something that will make the world a better place, a happy place. 

May we strive to remove from our hearts and our world anything that is of violence.  May we pray often that our country will always work to bring peace to a torn world – and may we pray that one day peace will reign supreme in this world of ours.

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