Chaplain's Corner + Peace is Precious
Only God knows what the state of the world will be by the time this "Chaplain's Corner" is published. So, my spiritual reflection is really dated as of the state of the world at the writing of this article (the second week of April, 2013). News sources report an unusually high awareness among Americans of the current threat of a nuclear war crisis incited by the extreme bellicose threats and actions of North Korean leaders. Words such as "represents threat," "public pessimism" and that "Americans are listening are now being heard worldwide." Such reports also indicate that a poll across all demographic groups in the United States, is that if the North's neighbor, South Korea, is attacked, the United States should respond militarily. How close is the nuclear annihilation clock to ticking to '0?' As of this writing, very close.
All this brings to my mind the words of the psalmist: "All too long have I dwelt with those who hate peace. When I speak of peace, they are ready for war." In other words, peace is precious; it is a treasure. This reflection bespeaks the necessity for all of us at all times to preserve peace and to work and hope to bring about peace. Peace is one of the fundamental teachings of most of the world's religious traditions. An example is Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist Zen master, who, since the Vietnam War, has worked tirelessly for peace. He pointed out that “Many people think excitement is happiness. . . . But when you are excited you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace. Mahatma Gandhi points out that “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” Christ told his followers: "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God." (Mt 5: 9).
Becoming sons of God does not happen automatically. We must be peacemakers and be committed to continue to be committed to this task throughout our lives. It is in this that we find our blessedness; in this we grow into the likeness of the God of peace. Interestingly, a 20th Century scientist, Albert Einstein, points out a pathway to peace: “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding." Our Holy Church Father St. Isaac of Syria, writing centuries before, tells us that such a road to peace can be traveled, but we must first begin with understanding of ourselves. St. Isaac links the acquisition of peace to humility. He writes of ". . .the peace that is born of humility. . .the man who has reached the knowledge of the extent of his own weakness has reached perfect humility."
ii A Short Breviary for Religious and Laity. (1962) Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.
iii Thich Nhat Hanh. (2007). The Art of Power. NY: Harper-Collins.
vi Holy Transfiguration Monastery. (ed., trans.). (2011). The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian (revised, 2nd edition). Boston, MA: Holy Transfiguration Monastery.