I practice Catholicism because it is right for me. As we approach the International Day of Peace, I cannot help but think of a practice I enthusiastically perform each day I attend Mass at the Lady of the Desert Chapel at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks.
Shortly after the congregation prays “The Lord’s Prayer,” the priest who performs the service reminds us, “Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles: I leave you peace, my peace I give you. Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom where you live for ever and ever.”
The congregation responds, “Amen.”
The priest smiles and tells us, “The peace of the Lord be with you always.”
As a congregation we respond, “And also with you.”
He then commands us, “Let us offer each other the sign of peace.”
At that important moment in the liturgy, we turn to each other and offer a sign of peace. I hug and kiss my wife on Sunday’s, and I shake my father’s hand as I tell them, “Peace be with you.” I hug my friend Walt and shake hands with others nearby. During the week, I turn around and shake hands with Jessica the dog trainer who is often accompanied by her dog Ringo, and then I hold Joan’s hand and say, “Peace be with you.” I look to the other side of the chapel, hold my hands together and bow while saying, “Namaste” to my friend Anna, a park ranger, and to Inga a holy contemplative, and to all the other people in my church community. It is a happy and solemn moment.
That will be one of my actions on the International Day of Peace on Wednesday, September 21, 2011. I will greet everyone I meet that day with a sign and a word of peace. I encourage you to celebrate the International day of Peace in your own way. If you are at a loss as to how you can make a positive contribution to the day, I encourage you to try my way and to offer everyone you meet a sign and a word of peace. WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!