By Sr. Judy Gomila, MSC
I try not to have a terminal case of negativity! The news – on radio or TV, in local newspapers and toxic personalities can make being realistic, while accentuating the positive, very difficult. Ferguson, ISIS, the Ukraine and those shootings here in the Big Easy plead for justice advocates and peace makers. At least weekly we pray in our parish churches our Archdiocesan Family Prayer. Recently, I spent the day on retreat with the leadership of the NOLA Interfaith Peace Initiative. What an uplifting, ecumenical experience for interfacing with peace before power.
The mission of the group, a collaborative effort of 40 plus organizations, is to support efforts to curb violence in New Orleans by expanding the role of faith communities in bringing an end to the epidemic of domestic violence, murder in the streets, and the general lack of dignity for the human beings, all our sisters and brothers. It is the hope of the organization that this Interfaith Peace Initiative will create a network of sustainable neighborhood peace proposals led by institutions of faith that focus on protecting and enriching the lives of our children and the prosperity of our city.
That’s the backdrop for the two day retreat held in Rosaryville. On arrival I met an array of Church leaders from a variety of religious persuasions. Mormons, Jews, Muslims and an assortment of Christians, including Catholics, had planned for this event and shared in the leadership of the sessions which included Companions on the Journey, Our Journey to the Streets, The Journey in the Public Square. I was invited to make a two hour presentation – “Walking the Journey: The Spirituality of Peace Making”. It became obvious to me in the interaction of the participants that peace principles transcend all religions.
At its best, peacemaking creates relational and structural justice that allows for social and personal well-being. Peacemaking implies the use of cooperative, constructive processes to resolve human conflicts, while restoring relationships. Peacemaking places adversary processes into a larger perspective. A PEACE-MAKER is a person who seeks to create harmony. As in music, for this to happen individuals must be true to their own notes…utilizing their personal talents and gifts while acknowledging their limitations.
1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers and sisters, be compassionate and humble.” The following prayer may deepen our appreciation of peace beginning within ourselves.
Let us walk from thoughts that weaken to promises that inspire
From apparent darkness to the reality of light
From bitterness to forgiveness
From negatives to affirmatives
From judging others to Christ present in them
From complaining to appreciating
From words that hurt to actions that help
From suspicion to truth
From unrelenting pressures to taking time to pray and to play
From personal anxiety to who’s really in charge
From self-pity to compassion for others
From constant talking to listening
From problems that overwhelm to prayer that overcomes
From discouragement to hope
From the past to the future. Amen.
- NOLA Interfaith Peace Initiative meets monthly click here for more information
- Prayer and address given by Archbishop Aymond at the November 6, 2013 opening
- To read about the origins of the NOLA Interfaith Peace Initiative and see photographs: http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2013/11/nola_interfaith_peace_initiati.html
Sr. Judith Gomila, MSC is a Marianite Sister of Holy Cross. She holds a Masters in Theology and Religious Studies from St. Paul University, Ottawa, Canada. Sr. Judy has served the Church in education/evangelization/mission outreach for 50 years. Currently she coordinates the Public Relations and Communication ministry for the Marianite Congregation and is co-director of the Marianite Associates, an organization for lay women and men who identify with Holy Cross spirituality. For more about this blogger, click here.