It is difficult to know how to respond to national tragedies like the bombing of the Boston Marathon on 15 April 2013.
The Eucharist, source and summit of Christian life, is a natural place to turn. Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation II acknowledges God’s role in building peace and describes a harmonious social order.
Even more, by your Spirit you move human hearts
that enemies may speak to each other again, adversaries join hands,
and peoples seek to meet together.
By the working of your power it comes about, O Lord,
that hatred is overcome by love, revenge gives way to forgiveness,
and discord is changed to mutual respect.
The Second Vatican Council, in Gaudium et Spes, acknowledges God’s role in building peace while affirming that every Christian has an obligation to help bring it about: “Peace is not merely the absence of war…it is rightly and appropriately called an enterprise of justice” that “must be built up ceaselessly” (78).
Peace begins with love. Respect for each person’s life and basic human dignity is a sure foundation for a peaceful human society.
This peace on earth cannot be obtained unless personal well-being is safeguarded and men freely and trustingly share with one another the riches of their inner spirits and their talents. A firm determination to respect other men and peoples and their dignity, as well as the studied practice of brotherhood are absolutely necessary for the establishment of peace. Hence peace is likewise the fruit of love, which goes beyond what justice can provide (78).
Christians are called to be peacemakers, to cooperate with all people of good will, and to renounce violence in fulfillment of Isaiah’s vision: “They shall turn their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into sickles…(Isaiah 2:4)” (78).
Let us bring contemplation and action together in order to build a civilization of love.
See the full text ofGaudium et Spes. The passages used above are drawn directly from the Vatican translation, which employs gender-specific language.
Submitted by: N. Rademacher, Assistant Professor, Religious Studies