As I write these words, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is in its first days. I pray that by the time you read them, a peaceful resolution has been found and justice, security, and relief has been restored. At the same time, the situation has been brewing for a long time and a quick restoration of international order may not be so easily concluded.
Before Ukraine entered the headlines, the parishes of Sacred Heart and Annunciation were preparing for a Lent of Peace. The wounds and tensions of the past couple of years were on my mind when considering our need for peace, but the situation in Eastern Europe expands this desire for Lent to lead all of us to the peace only God can bring. While many of you have therefore seen this proposal, I share it here as our pursuit of prayer, service, and witness to peace takes on even greater importance.
At the Last Supper, as His suffering and death drew near, Jesus gave the gift of His own peace to His disciples, those He called “friends.” In that moment of sorrow and uncertainty for the Apostles, Jesus gives them His peace. He continues to do so for us through the Holy Spirit.
As a gift, we must open ourselves to receive the peace of Christ. Below are a few suggestions for accepting this gift of peace in various areas of your life. In God’s providence, our Lenten penance dedicated to peace can bear fruit beyond our imagining: as St. Paul reminds us, “Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and it has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love Him” (I Corinthians 2:9).
Seek Peace with Technology
- set a specific limit to your time each day on devices not needed for work or family responsibilities
- avoid websites, FaceBook pages, or other media that tempt to anger, lust, envy, suspicion, greed, or other faults
- delete texts, posts, emails, etc. that belittle, insult, or harm the reputation of another
Seek Peace with Family
- eat together as a family
- pray together as a family – even if you cannot be together physically, agree to pause for an Our Father or a Hail Mary at a set time wherever you are
- offer an apology where necessary, and accept apologies offered to you
- affirm and encourage each person in your family this week
Seek Peace with Neighbors
- send a hand-written card with prayers and best wishes to one or more people who live nearby
- drop off some baked goods or other treats for someone who lives alone
- return any items you may have borrowed from friends or neighbors
- make a charitable donation to a trusted organization that helps those in need, mindful of the Good Samaritan who helped his neighbor, though that person was a stranger
Seek Peace with Those in Your Daily Circle
- make a list of gratitude for what the people you encounter in your daily routines do for you
- as with family above, offer an apology where necessary, and accept apologies offered to you
- pray a Hail Mary for the person you see often in your routines that you admire the most, and one for the person that challenges you the most
- make a phone call or other contact you have been putting off
Seek Peace with the Past
- receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation
- where apologies are not possible to those who have hurt in the past, offer an anonymous donation to a worthy charity
- pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary and offer each decade for a particular loss or regret
- make a list of what painful experiences have taught you in life
Seek Peace with Anxieties
- spend five minutes a day working on deep breathing or use an app with breathing exercises and relaxation
- listen to music, draw, or pursue a hobby you enjoy
- journal your worries and fears or talk with a trusted friend as a way to surrender anxieties and release them from your mind
Seek Peace with God
- add five minutes to your prayer time each day of Holy Week
- spend at least fifteen minutes in prayer the evening of Holy Thursday in union with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
- come to the commemoration of the Passion of the Lord on Good Friday if possible, or read the Passion narrative from John’s Gospel (John 18:1-19:42)|
- fast not only from a meal but entertainment and amusements on Good Friday
- join in the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday and/or the Easter Mass
This Lent, pray for and work for peace: consume less, pray more, bestow an act of mercy on another.