by Gervase Taratara, CSSp
Today, in honour of Mary, the mother of God and the Queen of Peace, the church gives us the opportunity to thank God for the gift of peace; to reflect and pray for it; to rededicate our commitment to work for peace; and to remember and pray for those places and people who are deprived of peace due to human greed for riches, power and domination, and imbalances in the distribution of world resources.
In his message to the World Day of Peace; the Holy Father; Benedict XVI says: “peace is God’s gift and the fruit of human efforts”. He elaborates what this means by saying that peace is interior peace with oneself and exterior peace with our neighbor and all creation and that it involves complete commitment. He goes on to say that “Peace is an order enlivened (brightened) and integrated by love, in such a way that we feel the needs of others as ours, share our goods with others and work throughout the world for greater communion in spiritual values” ( Peace message 2013 # 3:3). This means that Peace does not fall like rain from heaven, but people have to work for it.
Recognising this fact, throughout its existence, and very clearly, in recent years, our Congregation, in 1987, reworked the Rule of 1849 so as to inspire the work and actions that promote justice and peace in the light of the mission of the Church in the modern world. Number 14 of the current Rule of Life (1987) inspires the Congregation as a whole to prioritise the integral liberation of people, action for justice and peace, and participation in development. It also urges every Spiritan to make himself the advocate, the supporter and the defender of the weak and the little ones against all who oppress them. To make this happen, an office to coordinate the Congregation’s engagements in Justice, peace and the Integrity of Creation was establish here at the Generalate. The office continues to draws inspiration from the mission of Jesus outlined in the gospel of Luke chapter 4 verses 18 to 19, from the Social teaching of the Church, as these are constantly interpreted by Chapter documents.
Through its members, the Congregation has been, and will continue to accompany peace and reconciliation processes in the countries where this is a need. It continues to ministering to the refugees, migrants, survivors of torture, prisoners and the sick; as well as questioning the root causes of such phenomena. While some members are engaged in development work in the field, others continue to work in and with the institutions committed to develop theories of peace and of integral human development, education; as well as in advocacy at all levels of the human society.
On the 3rd of July, at Bagamoyo, we lit JPIC Jubilee candle, to enable all the chapter delegates to celebrate 25 years of our official engagements in Justice and Peace. To inspire other Spiritan communities, and to continue what was initiated in Bagamoyo, the community here lit Spiritan and AEFJN Jubilee candles on the first day of Advent 2012. The two candles will continue to burn throughout the year as our thanks giving to God for his gift of peace to humanity; to unite us with all who work for peace, and in honour of those who have given up their lives that others may obtain and live in peace.
May Mary, Mother of God and the Queen of peace intercede for us so that throughout the year we remain firmly committed to promote peace and Justice; and embarking on actions and resolutions which bring true peace in the world.