It is a worthy endeavor for us to continue to pray for peace. The logistics and mechanisms of war have changed through the decades, but the cry for peace amidst advanced weaponry reverberates to this day. It seems we have struggled to find the key to lasting peace in our world.
In looking at the title of the encyclical letter, I was struck by three different components. Public prayers, how are we doing in that regard today? Is the only time we pray for peace publicly when a general intercession happens to appear in a Sunday liturgy? Have people of faith allowed their freedom to be squelched to a point where public prayers for peace are almost non-existent outside of church walls? Do we really believe that prayer is beneficial?
Since military conflict has been a constant staple of our consciousness, it may be difficult to even imagine world peace. What would it be like to live in a world with not simply an absence of war, but a true and lasting peace? How would that affect our travel times at the airport? How would it affect our entrance into large auditoriums and stadiums for entertainment and athletic venues? What would it do for our emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being? Would it change the way we pray? Have we simply given up on the possibility of ever experiencing world peace?
I pondered the words “social peace” for quite a while when I first read the encyclical. What does social peace look like? As we review all the social problems of modern society it is fairly easy to simply shake our heads in disbelief and give up trying to make things better. In many ways the challenges seem beyond our ability to effectively make any significant progress in improving life’s dire situations. What happens to our culture when we lose the theological virtue of hope?
I found it interesting that the pope would state the following in paragraph 5: “Factional strife ‘has been and will be to many nations a greater calamity than war itself, than famine or disease.’” Wow! Factional strife may be a greater calamity than war itself. What have we not learned or achieved in the last 66 years in regard to this one line? Factions continue to abound in modern times in our political life, our social life, our work life, and even in the life of the Church. What calamitous results has our world experienced due to factional strife?
We are a week away from celebrating the great Solemnity of Christmas once again. May our private and public prayers for peace be fervent and faithful! May the incarnation of Christ the King fill our hearts with joy! May the Prince of Peace transform our world!