We All Must Appeal to Heaven for Peace on Earth

“May God banish from the hearts of people whatever might endanger peace…”

A crowd watches the ‘Miracle of the Sun’ during the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima on October 13, 1917.
A crowd watches the ‘Miracle of the Sun’ during the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima on October 13, 1917. (photo: Illustração Portuguesa)

If we want peace, pray the Rosary. That is the Blessed Virgin Mary’s instruction to us.

If we want peace, go home and love your family. That is the counsel of Mother Teresa.

If we want peace, go to confession. Go to Mass. Go to adoration. These are the cures our Church offers for our many transgressions.

If we want peace, feed the hungry. Care for the sick. Comfort the mourning. Visit the lonely. This is the preaching of Our Lord. The Kingdom of God is at hand through these actions.

If we want peace, banish anger. Banish hatred. Banish even the idea that it is okay to hate someone else for any reason. We won’t be able to bear God’s presence if we cannot love all of his creation, all of those made in his image. That is the spiritual reality of loving God and our neighbor as ourselves. 

If we want peace, we must proclaim this to be a year of charity, a year of submission, a year of humility, a year of service, a year of penance for all the wounds on the Body of Christ. These are wounds that we ourselves — and all who came before us, and all who ever were — have inflicted on Our Lord.

If the people of Nineveh proclaimed were spared for listening to the preaching of Jonah, and we want the same mercy for ourselves, we should take the same sort of action. Proclaim a fast, dress in sack cloth from the greatest to the least, and recognize that any suffering we inflict, we deserve ourselves and more. If we want peace, we will need to do more than merely want it. We must work for it.

We’ve been at the brink of war before, and Pope Francis asked us to pray for peace. We prayed for peace, and peace came. Now, we are here again, facing the possibility of war. If we want peace, we must engage in acts of mercy and penance for our sins — for our willingness to glory in the dark joy of violence, of hatred, of vindictiveness, of revenge, of words. It begins with each of us, with all of us, deciding that we will do not only our part, but seek to help others have less cause to rage and wreak havoc. If you don't know what to do, look at the Beatitudes and begin living them out today.

Pray. Pray, hope and serve. That is our call. That is our vocation. That is what’s necessary if we want the peace of Christ — a peace the world cannot give — to pour out over the whole world, and sooth the rage that threatens to consume.

“May God banish from the hearts of people whatever might endanger peace; may he transform them into witnesses of truth, justice and brotherly love. May he enlighten the rulers of peoples so that, in addition to their solicitude for the welfare of their citizens, they may also guarantee and defend the great gift of peace; may he enkindle the wills of all so that they may overcome the barriers which divide, cherish the bonds of mutual love, learn to understand one another and to pardon those who have done them wrong. By virtue of his action may all peoples of the earth become as brothers and sisters to one another, and may the peace they long for ever flower and ever reign among them.” (Pope St. John XXIII, Pacem in Terris)