Tag Archives: peace

25 September: Season of Creation, Blood upon the Rose.

Godshill, IoW.

I was looking for posts to mark the Season of Creation – which starts on 1 September, the Day of Prayer for Creation, and ends on 4 October, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology beloved by many Christian denominations. This poem leapt off the page.

I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.
I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice—and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words. All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.

Joseph Plunkett

I learned that Joseph Plunkett was one of those who signed the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and he was executed for his part in the 1916 Easter Rising.

Shortly before his execution on May 4 1916, he married his fiancée, Grace Gifford, in the jail’s chapel. Plunkett was just 28 years old.

There are multiple painful contradictions here. How to reconcile Plunkett the poet of creation with Plunkett the man of violence against other men, created by God?

Meanwhile, when Plunkett was fighting for an Irish Republic, other young Irishmen were signing up to the British Army to fight the Kaiser. Their recruitment was not necessarily an exercise in honesty on the part of the authorities.

When I chose the Godshill Lily Cross to head this post I was forgetting that in the churchyard there is the grave of

THOMAS FRANCIS O’NEILL
A SOLDIER OF THE KINGDOM OF IRELAND
WHO DIED OCTOBER 18TH 1918
AGED 35 YEARS
R.I.P.

DULCE ET DECORUM EST PRO PATRIA MORI

So, not every Irishman agreed with Plunkett. Thomas O’Neill saw things differently as his widow recorded on his memorial (but why did she erect this stone rather than the standard white Portland stone for War Graves?)

The Latin verse is another irony: ‘sweet and fitting it is to die for one’s country’, an irony picked up by another poet, Wilfred Owen, who saw many men endure painful ends before dying himself in the last days of the War. Violence in Ireland continued for many years, and is not yet about to be forgotten or totally set aside.

Let us pray for peace, the peace implied in Plunkett’s words, peace on earth to people of good will, and peace to all creatures that share this world with humanity.

He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. Isaiah 2:4.

Leave a comment

Filed under Autumn, Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Laudato si', PLaces, poetry

25 August: L’Arche pilgrimage I; Prayer by Therese Vanier

May oppressed people and those who oppress them set one another free.
May those who are disabled and those who think they are not, help one another.
May those who need someone to listen to them move the hearts of those who are too busy.
May the homeless give joy to those who, albeit unwillingly, open their door to them.
May the poor melt the hearts of the rich.
May those who seek the truth give life to those who are satisfied because they have already found it.
May the dying who do not want to die be comforted by those who find it very hard to live.
May those who are not loved be authorised to open the hearts of those who are not successful in loving.
May prisoners find true freedom and free others from fear.
May those who sleep on the streets share their kindness with those who do not manage to understand them.
May the hungry tear the veil from the eyes of those who do not hunger for justice.
May those who live without hope purify the hearts of their brothers and sisters who are afraid of living.
May the weak confuse the strong.
May hatred be surmounted by compassion.
May violence be neutralised by men and women of peace.
May it surrender to those who are totally vulnerable, so that we may be healed.
Therese Vanier

In L’Arche Kent Community Pilgrimage handbook 2022. Therese was one of the founders of L’Arche Kent in 1975.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, L'Arche, Mission

11 August: Feast of Saint Clare; Pope Francis meets the Poor Clares

Pope Francis visited the Poor Clares, the Franciscan enclosed sisters, in Assisi on the World Day of the Poor, 19 November 2021. The report below is from Vatican News; we can gain some understanding of the contemplative calling, but also a few challenges for our own lives. Happy Feast Day!

Pope Francis asked the Franciscan nuns to pray for the Church so that it may not be corrupted by sin, calling on them to be attentive contemplatives. Pope Francis said attentiveness to the Lord requires having peace of mind, serenity of the heart and serenity of the hands, lest we miss Him when He passes by. It is not watching the world pass by and chatting from a window, but being aware of what is going on with a pure mind, thinking well and not badly of people, he remarked.A “serene heart” implies going back in memory to the origin of religious vocation, to the reason of God’s call, to love and let ourselves be loved.

There is also the serenity of the hands: hands must move not only to pray, but also “to work,” Pope Francis said, recalling St. Paul’s words in his Letter to the Thessalonians: “Whoever does not work, must not eat”.

When mind, heart and hands do what they have to do, consecrated people may find a balance which is “full of love and passion”, making it easy not to miss what the Lord tells us when He passes by.

He pointed to the core of the Poor Clares’ contemplative work: “You carry on your shoulders the problems of the Church, the pains of the Church and also – I dare say – the sins of the Church, our sins, the sins of the bishops, we are all sinful bishops; the sins of the priests; the sins of consecrated souls … And bring them before the Lord”.

The real danger in the Church is not being a sinner, but allowing oneself to be corrupted by sin, to the point of seeing sin as “a normal attitude” and not feeling the need to ask for God’s forgiveness. Pope Francis therefore called on the cloistered nuns to pray that corruption might not affect the Church, stressing that God “only asks our humility to ask for forgiveness.”

Concluding his speech, Pope Francis asked the Poor Clares to think and pray for the elderly, who are often considered “disposable”, for those families struggling to make ends meet so they can bring up their children well, and for young people and children exposed to so many threats and dangers in today’s world.

Finally he asked them to pray for the Church, in particular for priests and bishops so they consider themselves pastors and not “heads of office”.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Laudato si', PLaces

10 August: Living in the light II

From a Pax Christi prayer car

This is a second extract from Archbishop Wester’s pastoral letter on nuclear weapons. He is Scriptural and concretely contemporary, challenging us to think, pray and act.

It is interesting to note that shortly after Jesus commanded His disciples to love their enemies, according to Luke’s account (9:54-55), they asked if they could kill their enemies. They wanted to call down hellfire from heaven on their enemies, as Elijah did. This passage is particularly important for us here in New Mexico . . .

One Samaritan village refused to welcome Jesus because He was heading toward Jerusalem where their enemies, the Judeans, lived. When James and John heard this, they asked Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” (Luke 9:54). Jesus had just commanded them to practice universal love and creative nonviolence, to love even their enemies, yet here they were—ready to kill their enemies. They preferred the teachings of the prophet Elijah, who called down fire from heaven and killed his enemies. 

Luke says simply, “Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village,” (9:55). 

Jesus rebuked the disciples because they wanted to call down fire from heaven. He absolutely forbids even the thought of it. He rejects violence of all kinds, including retaliation and warfare. He will not tolerate it among His followers. Jesus wants us to be as nonviolent and loving as He is, come what may. We are not allowed to kill people. 

Two thousand years later, here in New Mexico, we not only want to call down hellfire from heaven, but we have also actually built the most destructive weapons in history to do it, and then we used them to kill hundreds of thousands of sisters and brothers in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Since then, we have built tens of thousands of more nuclear weapons that can destroy the entire human race. We have surpassed James and John, who wanted to call down hellfire from heaven. We have done this and continue to prepare to do this.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Laudato si', Mission, PLaces

9 August: Living in the Light I

From a Pax Christi prayer card.

Within the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico, are massive research and production facilities for nuclear weapons. Archbishop John Webster has given time to reflect on the presence of such destructive power in his diocese, culminating in a Pastoral Letter he issued earlier this year, which can be read here. We publish two extracts today and tomorrow, since it was at this time of year that the nuclear bombs were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The whole document makes for interesting, but challenging, reading.

In September 2017, I travelled to Japan and visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was a sombre, sobering experience as I realised that on August 6, 1945, humanity crossed the line into the darkness of the nuclear age. We can now kill billions of people instantly and even destroy the world in a flash. 

The reality of this evil becomes very real as you walk through Hiroshima and Nagasaki today. In one exhibit, I read about school children in Hiroshima who, on that fateful morning in August 1945, ran to the windows, attracted by a bright light. I wonder how many were running to their deaths, either instantaneously incinerated or dying later in agonising pain. Normally, light brings new life and clearer vision. Not that day. Sadly, the light generated by the first nuclear explosion used in war brought only destruction and death. 

Then I remembered when I was a schoolboy in October 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I recall looking up at the sky on my way home from school to see if any Russian planes were about to drop atomic bombs on me. I became so frightened that I ran all the way home. 

Those Japanese school children had no time to be afraid. They had no time to run and there was no home left to run to. Later, when I walked through the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and stood before the incinerated Genbaku Dome, it dawned on me that I had not really thought about the possibility of nuclear war since then or felt fear over the nuclear threat. Those childhood days when we practised for nuclear war by hiding under our desks or locating the nearest bomb shelter are dim memories. But Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought them all back vividly.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Mission

8June: Vita Brevis.

Dunstan worshipping the Risen Lord.

This life is short, and we are not important. Art by Saint Dunstan, philosophising by Tagore.

What a to-do there is over this tiny bit of life! To think of the quantity of land and trade and commerce which go to furnish its commissariat* alone, the amount of space occupied by each individual throughout the world, though one little chair is large enough to hold the whole of him! Yet, after all is over and done, there remains only material for two hours’ thought, some pages of writing!

What a negligible fraction of my few pages would this one lazy day of mine occupy! But then, will not this peaceful day, on the desolate sands by the placid river, leave nevertheless a distinct little gold mark even upon the scroll of my eternal past and eternal future?

Glimpses of Bengal Selected from the Letters of Sir Rabindranath Tagore.

*Commisariat ia a military term for the supplies of food and equipment.

Did Saint Dunstan count it a lazy day when he spent his time engrossed in drawing this picture? It is a peaceful picture, with the saint content to be close to his Lord, touching the hem of his garment. (Luke 8.44) Against the events in history that he was involved with as abbot and archbishop, he chooses to show himself as a stocky, insignificant monk, seeking the grace of God to sustain him in all his works.

May we value the quiet moments that come our way, and find time to put ourselves in the presence of God when they arise … not that He is ever absent when life is hectic.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Easter, PLaces

3 June: Pope Francis sends greetings on Queen Elizabeth’s jubilee.

File photo showing Pope Francis greeting Queen Elisabeth and her late husband the Duke of Edinburgh in the Vatican

A thoughtful greeting from Pope Francis to Queen Elizabeth.

Yesterday saw the start of a weekend of celebrations across the United Kingdom on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne.

Marking this milestone, Pope Francis has sent a telegram to the Queen offering his prayers and good wishes. In it, he says: “On this joyful occasion of your Majesty’s birthday, and as you celebrate this Platinum Jubilee year, I send cordial greetings and good wishes, together with the renewed assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will bestow upon you, the members of the Royal Family and all the people of the nation blessings of unity, prosperity and peace.”

In recognition of the monarch’s commitment to the care of God’s creation, Pope Francis is donating a Cedar of Lebanon to the Queen’s Green Canopy project.  He expressed the hope that this tree, “which in the Bible symbolises the flourishing of fortitude, justice and prosperity, would be a pledge of abundant divine blessings” upon her realm.

The project invites people from across the United Kingdom to “Plant a Tree for the Jubilee”. As well as inviting the planting of new trees, The Queen’s Green Canopy will dedicate a network of 70 Ancient Woodlands across the United Kingdom and identify 70 Ancient Trees to celebrate Her Majesty’s 70 years of service. 

Vatican News.

We invite readers to pray for the Queen and the people of her realm, and especially for unity, prosperity and peace. Let us pray, too, for the people of Lebanon to recover these same gifts.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Interruptions, Justice and Peace, Laudato si', Mission

8 May: VE Day

Sheep under cherry trees, near Faversham, Kent.

I seldom revisit reflections in Agnellus Mirror but an old friend sent a springtime video with fallen cherry petals, which reminded me of this post from two years ago.

We began with lines from Edward Thomas:

The cherry trees bend over and are shedding
On the old road where all that passed are dead,
Their petals, strewing the grass as for a wedding
This early May morn when there is none to wed.

Two years ago the weddings were put off because of covid-19. In Edward Thomas’s time it was war, and today, it is war once again that darkens the horizons of our hopes and aspirations. But there will be a May wedding at St Mildred’s, and there was one on the last day of April 2022. Kentish men are not being called on to fight, but we can see the horrors of war in Ukraine. It is hard to read Bishop Claude’s words from yesterday without asking, in bewilderment and grief, ‘What is the wise course of action?’ What does a peacemaker do in these times? Please revisit the old post by the link, and then here is Bishop Claude again.

Respect for life does not stop at protecting the unborn, but must include opposing all oppression, all forms of violence and of war. The non-violence advocated by Gandhi has its roots in the Beatitudes, is part of our Gospel heritage: Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called the children of God. No war can be counted as legitimate or justified in the name of the Gospel. Non-violence is part and parcel of the creative act of God.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, corona virus, Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Mission

27 April: Tea’s company


Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
  Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
  And while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
  Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
  That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
  So let us welcome peaceful evening in.

These lines by William Cowper are taken from his long poem ‘The Task’, written in response to a challenge from his friend Lady Ann Austen. Many readers will recognise ‘the cups that cheer but not inebriate’ but perhaps, like me, did not know the source.

I’d like to put alongside Cowper’s image the photo on this book cover.

Jésus, l'homme de la rencontre

Bishop Claude Rault was a teacher of mine before he became Bishop of the Sahara, at least the part of it in the great empty quarter of Algeria. His book has been my Lenten reading this year, but what I want to share today is from the introduction by Fr Christophe Roucou, himself a missionary in North Africa.

Roucou explains why Bishop Rault chose this picture for his cover. It shows

“a teapot in the embers of a living fire, ready to make tea that will be drunk and shared in this corner of the desert between friends, or offered to the passer-by in token of welcome and hospitality.

“The tea of meeting!”

The word ‘meeting’ is hardly adequate as a translation of rencontre; ‘encounter’ does not, for me at least, convey the warmth and welcome implied in ‘rencontre’. Claude’s book is a commentary on the meetings Jesus had with people, as described in Saint John’s Gospel; and we know how deeply he welcomed all manner of people. A review will follow.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Easter, Justice and Peace, Mission

14 April, Maundy Thursday: Those who lead must serve

Pope washes feet of 12 prisoners on Holy Thursday

We follow Pope Francis to prison on Maundy Thursday.

In 2018, during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Pope Francis washed the feet of twelve inmates in Regina Coeli prison. He told the prisoners that Jesus had washed his disciples’ feet to show that leadership is service: “Those who lead must serve. If so many kings, emperors, heads of state had understood this teaching of Jesus and done this instead of giving orders to be cruel, to kill people, how many wars would not have happened!”

Pope Francis urged the prisoners not to give up hope for there always is the possibility of forgiveness; and even though society discards them, Jesus says: “You are important to me.” And he “takes a risk on each of us.” 

Francis  got down on his knees to wash the prisoners’, among them two Muslims and a Buddhist. He has in the past washed the feet of non-Christians; and the feet of women. 

“I am a sinner but come as Christ’s ambassador,” the Pope told the prisoners. “When I wash your feet, remember that Jesus never abandons you and he never tires of forgiving you.”

At the sign of peace he urged those present to use it as a moment for reconciliation and to think of “those who do not love us” and the people “we would like to take revenge on”.

(CNS photo/Vatican Media) 

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Easter, Justice and Peace, Lent, Mission