Monthly Archives: March 2015

Oscar Romero on Peace

Today is the 35th anniversary of the death of Oscar Romero, shot while celebrating mass in a hospital chapel for daring to challenge injustice and poverty.

Peace is not the product of terror or fear. Peace is not the silence of cemeteries. Peace is not the silent result of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all. Peace is dynamism. peace is generosity. It is right and it is duty.

I will not tire of declaring that if we really want an effective end to violence we must remove the violence which lies at the root of all violence: structural violence, social injustice, the exclusion of citizens from the management of the country, repression.

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Turning the Tables on Trident

We have posted about this before; but just in case you missed it or needed a reminder…

It is less than two weeks until Palm Sunday, March 29th when some of us will be gathering at Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment to mark the occasion by praying for peace. All welcome so do come along and add your prayers to this act of witness.

If you would like to know more, or to let us know you’re coming, do get in touch!

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The Mother’s Day Proclamation

I have long known that the origins of Mother’s Day in the UK had little to do with boxes of chocolate and expensive bouquets of flowers and more to do with returning to the ‘mother church’. I have also long known that numerous other countries celebrate Mother’s Day in May. Today, I discovered the origins of that May Mother’s Day in the remarkable demands of Julia Ward Howe, who fresh from the carnage of the American Civil War, greeted the beginnings of the Franco Prussian war with a call to all Mothers, indeed all women, everywhere to stand up for peace. Her call for a “Mother’s Day for Peace” has been sadly corrupted since, but its origins are worthy of celebration.

In place of the overly-commercialised sickly-sweet celebration our own mother’s day has become; here is a mothers day I can wholeheartedly believe in. Given that Julia Ward Howe’s words still sound disconcertingly relevant today, instead of taking my mother out for an overpriced meal, perhaps I will invite her to stand proud on the campaign trail for peace.

Again, in the sight of the Christian world, have the skill and power of two great nations exhausted themselves in mutual murder. Again have the sacred questions of international justice been committed to the fatal mediation of military weapons. In this day of progress, in this century of light, the ambition of rulers has been allowed to barter the dear interests of domestic life for the bloody exchanges of the battle field. Thus men have done. Thus men will do. But women need no longer be made a party to proceedings which fill the globe with grief and horror. Despite the assumptions of physical force, the mother has a sacred and commanding word to say to the sons who owe their life to her suffering. That word should now be heard, and answered to as never before.

Arise, then, Christian women of this day ! Arise, all women who have hearts, Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears ! Say firmly : We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country, to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.

From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: Disarm, disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence vindicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of council.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them then solemnly take council with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, man as the brother of man, each bearing after his own kind the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women, without limit of nationality, may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient, and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

Julia Ward Howe, 1872

The Two Faces of the Cross

Two quotes from “The two faces of the Cross” by Brother John of Taize. The whole text is available for download at http://www.taize.fr/en_article8666.html

The way we articulate the two moments of what is called the paschal mystery has incalculable consequences for Christian life. For centuries, notably in the West, the resurrection was downplayed with respect to the passion of Christ, and this tended to foster a pessimistic outlook, centred on suffering, regarding life on earth. If today the accent has fortunately shifted towards the primacy of the resurrection in the piety of the faithful, that outlook is not without its drawbacks either. It runs the risk of minimising the effects of evil in human life, of leaping a bit too quickly to the other bank of a rediscovered happiness, and consequently of cutting oneself off from all who are forced to deal with inexplicable suffering or who are caught up in the anguish of an apparently absurd existence. Can we find strength and inspiration in the joyful news of the resurrection without taking from the cross its full measure of seriousness?

And then …

Such an act of solidarity [Jesus death on the cross], by which the Innocent One identifies with the guilty, immediately does away with all the walls we erect between individuals and groups to put ourselves in the right “If others are bad, then obviously I am good” The cross puts an end to the human divisions of race and religion, and even of behaviour, to present us all to God together, prodigal sons and daughters who are nonetheless his beloved children. Looked at from the vantage point of the cross, all human pretensions are unmasked.

This solidarity that overcomes differences and creates unity before God is shown at the same time to be the authentic response to evil. By accepting to give his life for the executioners, Jesus proclaims a truth so simple that we constantly disregard it: you cannot eliminate evil by using the same weapons. Can it not be said that the history of our race, from war to war and from oppression to oppression, is a tale of how we forget this basic truth?