EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 10, 2014

Column: Don't just pray for peace; go make a difference

Jane Cadarette
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — If you are a person who prays, I’ll bet you pray for peace. People of all faiths have been praying for peace for centuries, and yet there is no peace. What’s missing that keeps the prayers for peace from being answered?

I think I found what’s missing.

It’s a word from the fourth century A.D. that St. John Chrysostom actually gave away for nothing. Maybe those who heard him took it to heart for a while but they must not have acted on it or passed it on. Maybe he should have charged for it so people would know how valuable it was.

I won’t keep you waiting any longer. Are you ready? St. John’s word is … Sincerity.

Common, ordinary sincerity. Not a word to be added to one’s prayers, but a wholehearted, personal commitment backing them up.

According to St. John, “the test of the sincerity of our prayer is the willingness to labor on its behalf.”

Does St. John mean our prayers for peace are empty if we’re not working for peace? I think so.

When we pray for peace what do we expect God to do? It would be wonderful if peace was suddenly achieved everywhere in the world by divine intervention.

God doesn’t have any hands but our hands, or any voice but our voice. There is also the expression attributed to many - “No one can do everything but everyone can do something”.

Where to begin or continue? With ourselves. Here’s an exercise that environmental activist Joanna Rogers Macy recommends:

If you were fearless and in possession of all your powers, what would you do to heal the world?

What knowledge and skills do you have?

What do you need to learn?

What obstacles will you put in your way?

What can you do in the next 24 hours to achieve your goal?

At a recent, day-long conference entitled “Building a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence,” the guest speaker was John Dear, a Catholic priest, noted peace activist and staff member of Pace e Bene, an organization that began “Campaign Nonviolence” that is growing rapidly. Father Dear is traveling the country promoting “Campaign Nonviolence” and his new book: “The Nonviolent Life.”

He, his book and the campaign speak of “the three dimensions of nonviolence — practicing nonviolence toward ourselves; practicing nonviolence toward all others, all creatures and creation; and practicing active nonviolence by joining the global grassroots movement of nonviolence.” Father Dear’s book elaborates on these dimensions and will be helpful no matter where one is on the journey to a nonviolent life.

Additional help can be found at the websites of The Center for Christian Nonviolence, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Pax Christi, The Fellowship of Reconciliation, Agape Community and Pace e Bene.

To lift your spirit and inspire you, listen to a wonderful song, “Go Make a Difference,” sung by Steve Angrisano on Youtube. The lyrics are Christian, but the chorus is religiously neutral: “Go make a difference. We can make a difference. Go make a difference in the world.”

Jane Cadarette of North Andover is a member of Pax Christi and The Merrimack Valley People for Peace.