This year our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, addressed the World Day of Peace with his theme, “In truth, peace.” Today, we search for that truth through prayer, preparation and action. And we find that peace when we welcome God's love and answer his call.
First, let us look for the peace of Christ in ourselves. Until we completely accept His call to follow him we cannot truly witness the truth of God's message to others. We must remove any barriers in our lives and souls that steel our hearts against the heavenly gift of divine grace.
Our personal journey to peace begins with prayer and an active pursuit of virtue. Prayer is not a luxury or a pious thought to take or leave. Prayer is essential to building a peaceful soul, because only prayer gives us answers to the trials of life.
This prayerful process is one of hope, for we know the peace we seek is already within us. As Our Lord says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (Jn 14:27).
But in this world " where the scourges of pornography and abuse shatter lives, addiction and corruption mar souls, and violence against the unborn, within families and between nations destroys the bonds of brotherhood " we are tempted to pursue the simple path of worldly pleasure over the daily striving for spiritual peace.
Far too often the fearful heart is overcome by these hardships, ignoring the unceasing effort God makes to bring us peace. Thus, we sacrifice the tranquility of true peace for the trappings of temporary gratification.
It is our active duty to find God's peaceful light through the darkness. As St. Peter, the Prince of Apostles, said, we “must turn from evil and do good, seek peace and follow after it” (1 Pt 3:11). Our souls must be strengthened to search for peace and, once found, pursue its path to righteousness. For example, through commitment to our spiritual health, we can overcome impurity in thought and action. We can also bring peace to the holy union of the family by honoring spouses, respecting parents and guiding children.
Pope John Paul II said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” And so our prayers for harmony within the home echo our hopes for humanity.
The world community prays for peace and comfort in a time of poverty, terrorism and war. Despite unprecedented prosperity in many nations, millions of people worldwide starve each day. We must not turn a blind eye to the poorest members of society, but offer them our Christian charity and service. It is our faith, combined with works, which can heal the wounds of poverty and replace suffering with peace.
There is also an affliction that does not differentiate between rich and poor a blight that threatens the accord of nations and targets the innocence of all. Continued acts of terror distort truth and degrade life. We pray that the spirit of peace might turn these hardened hearts from hatred to forgiveness.
The devastating consequences of war are felt both overseas and at home. Ongoing conflicts and international unrest define this time of peril, making the need for peace more acute. Thus we say, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Mt 5:9).
In Northern Virginia, we see many people willing to lay down their lives for friends and strangers alike. Our military families feel this so keenly. During this time of war, we commend to our Lord's protection all men and women serving so courageously in our armed services.
We continue to work for peace within ourselves, our nation and the world. This is neither a simple task, nor a temporary mission. As Pope Benedict XVI said, “Peace appears as a heavenly gift and divine grace which demands at every level the exercise of the highest responsibility.”
Let us pray that, with the strength of God's love, we may embrace our responsibility to truly become instruments of peace throughout this New Year.