Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Testimony

My precious mother, Kathryn Grant, striken with Alzheimer's disease and unable to write, walk, speak coherently, or feed herself any longer wrote this beautiful passage in 2003 on the tragedy of 9/11 two years after the horrific event. I am led to share it with you today because the call remains to 'take up arms' and to be hope bearers in this world and I, her daughter, will issue it again now a decade later and together we will pass it on from generation to generation.

     "The heart of our nation has not fully healed since the tragedy of 9/11. The grief of the victims' families has not been assuaged, nor has the magnitude of their loss been minimized by the passage of time. Indeed, the intervening months have brought more violence and death around the globe, in spite of enormous outlays of money and arms at the disposal of those who seek peace and do not find it. Meanwhile, there is an opportunity that begs the attention of we older citizens to 'take up arms'-, our own -, that is, to put our arms around the children and young people of this nation. We have lived through a succession of wars and civil upheavals; we have seen the fall of Communism and Fascism; we have seen an earlier culture turned upside down by radical changes of every kind. We have lost loved ones, family and peers. By virtue of age and experience, we are singularly qualified to be hope bearers. Like the canaries sent down into the mine shafts to test for any toxicity, we bring good news that all is well. Not even the monstrous blow of 9/11 can bring us to our knees, except in prayer.
     So, my, dear brothers and sisters of faith, we are called to a challenging "war effort." Our weapons are our collective voices of reassurance to our children, grandchildren, all who have lost hope for the future of our beloved country which we have historically called 'invincible.' One of us repeating Jesus' words, 'Be not afraid' is good, but when we collaborate, the collective power of our voices can turn the tide of events as they unfold. We are people of prayer. How else does one survive what we have been through in our long lives? And prayer will be our greatest weapon in bringing hope to the hopeless. The dues in our organization will be steep! requiring millions of prayers for the balance of our lives for our loved ones, and others all over the world who yearn for peace and security. We will be one voice for one people!"     Kathryn Grant

My mother's (Kathryn) testimony continues to touch me powerfully and I hope it does you. Let us continue to "bring good news that all is well."

Love & peace be with you & yours from generation to generation.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

"The Miracle"

Vatican Insider Staff
Rome

Muslims and Christians came together in St. Peter’s Square today and prayed using words from their own religions. Many described this as “the miracle” of Pope Francis’ ecumenical appeal during today’s fast and four-hour long vigil of prayer which broke the barriers of faith in an attempt to stop the war in Syria. 100,000 came to St. Peter’s Square in the late afternoon to join the Pope in his appeal for peace.
 
A silent ceremony, with flags from countries all over the world lining the sides of the square: from the Syrian flag to the Chinese and Argentinean one and the one depicting the rainbow of peace. The atmosphere was meditative and almost surreal given the presence of Syrians and Muslims in the square: according to Italy’s Arab community there were several hundred who attended.  Some of them recited verses from the Koran as the sound of the Ave Maria rose from the lips of Catholics standing just metres away. A fusion of faiths and prayers in the spirit of peace.
 
But a wind of division blew across the Syrian community attending the vigil in St. Peter’s Square. A group which supports the ideology of the “rebels” moved away from the so-called “pro-Syrian people” group, and went to the other side of the square. “We fear infiltrators from the Syrian embassy, it’s best if we keep away,” they said. But for many others it was simply a moment of peace. Many Catholics called it “a sort of miracle performed by St. Francis.”

Peace Vigil


VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Tens of thousands of people filled St. Peter's Square for a four-hour Syria peace vigil late Saturday, answering Pope Francis' call for a grassroots cry for peace that was echoed by Christians and non-Christians alike in Syria and in vigils around the world.

The Vatican estimated about 100,000 took part in the Rome event, making it one of the largest rallies in the West against proposed U.S.-led military action against the Syrian regime following the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus.

Francis spent most of the vigil in silent prayer, but during his speech he issued a heartfelt plea for peace, denouncing those who are "captivated by the idols of dominion and power" and destroy God's creation through war:

     "This evening, I ask the Lord that we Christians, and our brothers and sisters of other religions and    every man and woman of good will, cry out forcefully: Violence and war are never the way to peace!" he said. "May the noise of weapons cease!" he said. "War always marks the failure of peace, it is always a defeat for humanity."

Monday, September 2, 2013

Pope Francis' Cry for Peace

"Today, dear brothers and sisters, I wish to add my voice to the cry which rises up with increasing anguish from every part of the world, from every people, from the heart of each person, from the one great family which is humanity: it is the cry for peace! It is a cry which declares with force: we want a peaceful world, we want to be men and women of peace, and we want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out! War, never again! Never again, war! Peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected. There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria, and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming.

I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from the deep within me. How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country, especially among civilians and the unarmed! I think of many children will not see the light of the future! With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons: I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart. There is a judgment of God and of history upon our actions which are inescapable! Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence.

With all my strength, I ask each party in this conflict to listen to the voice of their own conscience, not to close themselves in solely on their own interests, but rather to look at each other as brothers and, decisively and courageously, to follow the path of encounter and negotiation, and so overcome blind conflict. With similar vigour I exhort the international community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace in that country without further delay, a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people.

May no effort be spared in guaranteeing humanitarian assistance to those wounded by this terrible conflict, in particular those forced to flee and the many refugees in nearby countries. May humanitarian workers, charged with the task of alleviating the sufferings of these people, be granted access so as to provide the necessary aid.

What can we do to make peace in the world? As Pope John said, it pertains to each individual to establish new relationships in human society under the mastery and guidance of justice and love
(cf. John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, [11 April 1963]: AAS 55, [1963], 301-302).

All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace. I make a forceful and urgent call to the entire Catholic Church, and also to every Christian of other confessions, as well as to followers of every religion and to those brothers and sisters who do not believe: peace is a good which overcomes every barrier, because it belongs all of humanity!

I repeat forcefully: it is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace.

May the plea for peace rise up and touch the heart of everyone so that they may lay down their weapons and let themselves be led by the desire for peace.

To this end, brothers and sisters, I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.

On 7 September, in Saint Peter’s Square, here, from 19:00 until 24:00, we will gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world. Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace! I ask all the local churches, in addition to fasting, that they gather to pray for this intention.

Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our Mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!"