On May 23, 1920 Pope Benedict XV issued the encyclical, PACEM, DEI MUNUS PULCHERRIMUM (On Peace and Christian Reconciliation). I would like to quote his entire first paragraph to put into perspective his thoughts following the end of World War One.
“Peace, the beautiful gift of God, the name of which, as St. Augustine says, is the sweetest word to our hearing and the best and most desirable possession; peace, which was for more than four years implored by the ardent wishes of all good peoples, by the prayers of pious souls and the tears of mothers, begins at last to shine upon the nations. At this We are indeed the happiest of all, and heartily do We rejoice. But this joy of Our paternal heart is disturbed by many bitter anxieties, for if in most places peace is in some sort established and treaties signed, the germs of former enmities remain; and you well know, Venerable Brethren, that there can be no stable peace or lasting treaties, though made after long and difficult negotiations and duly signed, unless there be a return of mutual charity to appease hate and banish enmity. This, then, Venerable Brethren, is the anxious and dangerous question upon which we wish to dwell and to put forward recommendations to be brought home to your people.”
There is no doubt that tensions and violence remain a significant component of life for many people throughout the world. This realization should compel Christians to live as an example of sincere love and charity so that we may effectively banish enmity. However, if the Church as a whole finds itself stuck in complacency and apathy, what are the chances we will ever experience true peace and tranquility? As members of Christ’s body we each have a role to play in bringing the transforming love of God to others. Do we care enough to put on the armor of God and get to work?
In his book, Secrets of Super Achievers, Philip Baker states the following:
"The truth is, however, most people are not lazy; they are simply uninspired. Motivation comes from having a goal that is inspirational. This, in turn, causes us to focus our lives even more and gives us the energy with which we can accomplish our dreams."
When I studied that statement from Philip Baker the question that popped into my mind was this: Are Christians uninspired? How could it be that a relationship with almighty God is not a sufficient enough goal to generate motivation within us? If that is indeed the case, what changes do we need to make in our individual lives as well in our religious institutions? If enthusiasm, zeal, and motivation are not bursting at the seams within our church congregations, what is wrong?
History has taught us some things in regard to maintaining peace in the world. Will we pay attention to the lessons? Let us not only yearn for peace when we are in the midst of war, but let us yearn for peace each and every day of our lives. May we never be content with an attitude of indifference or satisfied with mediocrity! Let pious souls pray fervently and live faithfully to light the way for a world that is sometimes enveloped in darkness. Quite simply, let's live inspired lives!
Give thanks to God this weekend for the gift of freedom and the gift of peace. Pray for all of those families who have sacrificed in the past to give us this gift as well as those currently serving our country. Pray for all those affected by the ravages of war. Pray for our veterans and their families. Pray for our government to have good leadership and function well. Pray that the issues at our VA Hospitals will be straightened out and quality health care will be provided to those who have served. Most importantly, pray for our country that we may truly become what we pledge to be, “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
I offer one word of encouragement as you offer your prayers. Pray with an immense amount of gratitude. It is easy to focus on everything that is wrong and lose the hope that we find in God. Today, focus on what is right and good and demonstrate abundant gratitude in the process. I leave you with these quotes to ponder for this Memorial Day Weekend.
"It's a sign of mediocrity when you demonstrate gratitude with moderation."
"There is real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment."
~Norman Vincent Peale
"People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents."
"Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius."
~Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen