Whether prelates or people at the grass roots level proclaim it, peace is the central issue of our day. Much time and effort are spent on crucial issues: abortion, capital punishment, the economy, the environment and so on. However, sometimes contradictions, or, if you prefer, paradoxes, emerge from overworking one issue at the expense of others. For example, some, who put all their energies into one of these life issues will vote for legislators who are for their cause even though the latter also insist that building up arsenals of nuclear weapons is the way to maintain peace. There is always the danger of becoming myopic in view or, as Jesus said, becoming “blind guides who strain out the gnat but swallow the camel!” The risks of accidents occurring with the storage of nuclear weapons is monumental, to say nothing of the risks involved in negotiating for peace when we have an inbuilt attitude that we can instill fear in our enemy through such competitive accumulation. In our hearts we know it is trust, not fear, which inaugurates peace. Fear causes us to become frantically defensive and to behave in volatile, irresponsible ways. Since our “enemies” are human beings too, is it possible they might react the same way? The monsters we have created which threaten to destroy not only every living creature on the earth but its history as well (for what artifacts or documents would survive a nuclear war?) may bring us to our senses and give us a more balanced view. Without a human race, what would be the meaning of any other life issues? While working to protect life—innocent, or not-so-innocent but redeemed by the blood of Jesus, or the earth which sustains life and which we have been commanded by God to cultivate—we need to take a broader stance toward all life. We need to work for peace, pray for peace, and be people of peace in the area of our own influence. Lord, give peace in our day!
—Sister Mary E. Penrose, OSB
|Sister Mary E. Penrose is a Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She edits readings for the liturgical Hours and writes reflections for the Community. And she is a tutor for the African Sisters attending The College of St. Scholastica. She was editor of a journal, Spirit & Life, for 18 years.|