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Peace – A Reflection

April 30, 2020
Fr Daniel Berrigan, SJ

When I first “met” Thomas Merton five years ago I was touched deeply by his passion for peacemaking. As I read his journals from 1960-1963 (Turning Towards the World: The Pivotal Years) during a class at Columbia Presbyterian Theological Seminary I was overwhelmed by his passion for peace in the midst of a difficult time in our nations history (Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement). As I began to explore Merton’s writings I began to find a brother who I could truly relate to. As I read two books by Jim Forest (a peace activist and member of the Catholic Workers Movement and Catholic Peace Fellowship) about Thomas Merton and Fr Daniel Berrigan, SJ my heart was, to quote John Wesley, strangely warmed. I had discovered in these two peace advocates kindred spirits and brothers. Fr Berrigan transitioned from this world to the next four years ago today. From his birth in Virginia, Minnesota to his death in The Bronx, New York Fr Berrigan was a force to be reckoned with (along with his brother, Fr Philip Berrigan).

As I think about the world today, I wonder what words my brothers in faith and action would share with us. Fr Daniel Berrigan’s words touched my heart today: One is called to live non-violently, even if the change one works for seems impossible.

Thomas Merton has this to say about peace in his book Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander: If you yourself are at peace, then there is at least some peace in the world.

In these challenging times, may we find that peace within us. As Jesus promises in John 14:27–Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

May we find such peace in our lives and may we, in the words of the Psalmist, seek that peace and pursue it! (Psalm 34:14b)

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