A Reflection on Peace During the Dominican Month of Peace

A reflection for the first week of Advent by fr. Emmanuel Mulu, OP, Promoter for Justice and Peace for Dominicans in Africa, Vatican Representative to the United Nations in Kenya, and member of the Vicariate of Eastern Africa.

The four weeks of Advent constitute a season of expectant waiting and preparation for the nativity of Christ and His return at Parousia. Waiting is a sign of hope. Hope for healing to a broken world that needs fixing. The world is broken because it abhors waiting, preferring quick-fix solutions to issues that bedevil it. These quick-fix solutions eventually fail, hurting the world even more.

The expected Messiah gives hope because he is the only one who is able to fix our broken world. He is able to mend and repair it.

The Prince of Peace

The first reading from Isaiah draws our attention to a peaceful coexistence. “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” Peace therefore can neither be achieved through wars nor by building walls. It is a gift from God as we find in John 14:27 New Catholic Bible (NCB). However, humanity is at liberty to elect either to embrace this gift or not to. More often than not, peace is not chosen yet the fruits of not embracing this invaluable gift of peace are conflicts, violence, wars, discrimination and their attendant outcomes. Myanmar suffers due to failure to choose peace. Some leaders in this beautiful country refused to embrace peace. They have refused to allow coexistence resulting to untold suffering. Displacement of masses, homelessness, maiming, emotional disturbance and death are the results of this war in Myanmar.

Prophet Isaiah speaks to this situation. He tells nations and governments including Myanmar to turn their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks, their military budgets into development budgets and hatred into love. Although it may sound difficult, this transformation is possible through the grace of the Messiah, the Prince of peace. Christ is the Prince of Peace in contradistinction to many world leaders who inflict suffering on those they lead due to selfish motives.

Keep watch as you wait

Matthew in the Gospel directs our thoughts towards ‘keeping watch’ as we approach Parousia because the Lord will come at a time we do not expect. We therefore have to keep watch and prepare. This can seem to be a long wait tempting humanity to deviate, a dangerous path to take; a path that many nations have taken. A path that Myanmar has taken. A way of conflict. A way that seems right in the sight of its leaders “There is a way which seems right unto a man; But the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 14:12.

A ready and expectant spirit inspires careful observation of the times. Preparedness and watchfulness is accomplished through prayer. Those who are not watching are not praying, and those who are not praying are not watching. Prayer is dialogue with God. Constant communication with God keeps a person hopeful while at the same time maintaining a relationship with Him. If the world faithfully keeps watch through prayer, hope will replace despair and fear. Through prayer, tolerance, cohesion and coexistence can abound. This is possible in Myanmar. This is possible in the world and in all nations that are rocked by violent conflicts and wars.

The wars we witness in the world are reminiscent of a desperate world; a world that lacks the preparedness for the Savior, a world full of fear, a world devoid of patience and tolerance, a world that courts an attitude of self-sufficiency and locks the Messiah out of its matrix. This attitude tries to nip hope in the bud casting humanity to the mercy of fear and despair.

The time of Advent is therefore a time to stop war, discrimination and conflicts so that is can embrace the all-encompassing Christ. We are all called to wait for Christ who heals our broken world because waiting is not a waste of time but the price we pay for our healing (John 5:3-New Catholic Bible).

We are hopeful as we wait to celebrate the birth of the Messiah that Myanmar and other parts of the world that witness wars will welcome the Prince of Peace and that they will know peace.

Have an expectant waiting for the Messiah during this Advent Season, won’t you!

 

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Dominican Month for Peace 2022

Myanmar (formerly Burma) is a Southeast Asian nation of more than 100 ethnic groups, bordering India, Bangladesh, China, Laos, and Thailand. Yangon (formerly Rangoon), the country’s largest city, is home to bustling markets, numerous parks and lakes, and the towering, gilded Shwedagon Pagoda, which contains Buddhist relics and dates to the 6th century.    

CapitalNaypyidaw Population54.41 million (2020) World Bank

Click here for more information on Myanmar.

Myanmar’s people and history are a glorious mishmash of settlers and invaders from all fronts. The Mon and the Pyu peoples are thought to have come from India, while the now dominant Bamar migrated through Tibet and, by 849, had founded a powerful kingdom centered on Bagan. (Mandalay RegionThe Bagan Kingdom was the first Burmese kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute modern-day Burma, later renamed to Myanmar. For the next millennium, the Burmese empire grew through conquests of Thailand and India and shrank under attacks from China and internal rebellions.

TIMELINE OF BURMESE HISTORY 

500 BCE Iron working settlements

180 BCE beginning of Pyu city-states:  Between the 1st century BCE and the 9th century CE,  speakers of Tibeto-Burman languages known as the Pyu established city-kingdoms

200 CE The Pyu convert to Buddhism

832 Pyu city-states destroyed by Nanzhao (Tai kingdom/southern China)raids

849–1297 The Kingdom of Pagan was the first Burmese kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute modern-day Myanmar.

1277- The first Mongol (an East Asian ethnic group native to Mongolia) invasion followed by the Pinya Kingdom.  Other Kingdoms included Ava, Prome,Mongol, Pagan, et. al.

1385 Forty Years’ War

1527 Confederation of Shan States

1547 First Burmese invasion of Siam begins.   Siam becomes Burmese vassal until 1584

1600 Portugal ascends with Burmese Army – introduces Catholicism and attempts to

destroy Buddhism.  Civil war ensues

1619-1677 English East India Company and Dutch India Company establish their presence

1824 Start of First Anglo-Burmese War

1885 Third Anglo-Burmese War; end of Burmese monarchy.  Burma is proclaimed a British colony.

1937 Burma is separated from British India and becomes a separate colony

1941 Burma Independence Army formed with Japanese help

1945 Return of British rule

1947 Panglong Agreement:  independence from the British[

1947 Constitution guarantees the Federated Shan States

1948 Burma gains independence from the United Kingdom with U Nu as Prime Minister

1950 Insurgencies begin Burmese Army repels Nationalist Chinese invasion of Shan State (to 1961)

1960 U Nu’s party faction wins decisive victory in 1960 elections, but his promotion of Buddhism as the state religion and his tolerance of separatism angers the military.

1961 U Thant was a Burmese diplomat and the third secretary-general of the United Nations from 1961 to 1971, the first non-Scandinavian to hold the position. He held the office for a record 10 years and one month.[b]

1962 Democratically elected government of U Nu is overthrown by Ne Win, who abolishes the federal system and inaugurates “the Burmese Way to Socialism” – nationalising the economy, forming a single-party state with the BSPP as the sole political party, and banning independent newspapers.  Government guns down student protesters

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Celebrate the Season of Creation: A Prayer Service for October 2

In his message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation 2022, Pope Francis said that the sweet song of creation is today “accompanied by a cry of anguish…” and it is “our sister, mother earth, who cries out.”

For this Sunday, October 2, Associate Judy Hardy of the Eco-Justice Committee speaks of sadness, and of hope. 

The readings of this last of the Sundays of the Season of Creation are somber and full of warning.  They challenge us to look at, recognize and own our part in Earth’s anguish: in the waters and creatures, in the sufferings of our sisters and brothers.  But we are not without hope—we call on faith in our forgiving and restoring God who can empower us as servants who listen well to the voice of creation all around us.

A reading from Lamentations 1:1-6

  • How bitterly so many weep at the destruction they see, at the powerlessness they feel in the face of the planet’s increasingly evident stress. We weep in solidarity with those who mourn we act in hope to bring comfort and renewal.

Responsorial Psalm 137

  1. By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept.
  • Will we let our hearts be broken open so that we recognize our oneness with all that suffer?


A reading from the Second Letter to Timothy
(2 Timothy: 1-1:14)

  • Paul reminds us all that arguments over doctrine and terminology do not really solve our need for conversion. Words that we can trust are the reminder of our solidarity with the Christ who entered into Creation and gave all for its ultimate salvation.

A reading from the Gospel according to Luke (Luke 17: 5-10)

  • What if we really considered ourselves servants whose whole desire is to carry out the loving desires of the Creator: for an Earth flourishing with peace, wholeness, and abundance for all.  Will we see this dream as our duty to fulfill?
  • Paul reminds us all that arguments over doctrine and terminology do not really solve our need for conversion. Words that we can trust are the reminder of our solidarity with the Christ who entered into Creation and gave all for its ultimate salvation.

A reading from the Gospel according to Luke (Luke 17: 5-10)

  • What if we really considered ourselves servants whose whole desire is to carry out the loving desires of the Creator: for an Earth flourishing with peace, wholeness, and abundance for all.  Will we see this dream as our duty to fulfill?

Click here to download a Microsoft Word document with this service, or click here to view the PDF version.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Celebrate the Season of Creation: A Prayer Service for September 18

In his message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation 2022, Pope Francis said that the sweet song of creation is today “accompanied by a cry of anguish…” and it is “our sister, mother earth, who cries out.”

For Sunday, September 18, Associate Judy Hardy of the Eco-Justice Committee looks at the sorrow of Earth and how each of us may lead a life peaceful to those around us and to Earth.

Please click here to download the WORD version or click here to view and download the PDF version of a special service that you can use in your own parish or private worship. 

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Introductory Comments – The Season of Creation is the annual Christian celebration to listen and respond together to the cry of Creation: the ecumenical family around the world unites to pray and protect our common home

1st reading – Jeremiah 8: 18-9:1
Reflection – Where can I find a wayfarers shelter?

Responsorial Psalm – 79:1-9
Response – Help us God, our Savior
Reflection – How can we avoid the guilt of former generations

2nd reading – 1 Timothy 2:1-7
Reflection – How may we lead peaceful and quiet lives with devotion and propriety?

Gospel – Luke 16: 1-13
Reflection – What in my life am I a slave to?

Music suggestions – optional

E – entrance | O – Offertory | C – Communion | D – Dismissal

E – We Gather Together To Ask The Lord’s Blessing:
O – Here I am Lord
C – I am the Bread of Life
D – How Great Thou Art

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Celebrate the Season of Creation: A Prayer Service for September 11

September 1 begins the annual celebration of the Season of Creation, a time to renew our relationship with our Creator and all creation through celebration, conversion, and commitment together. During the Season of Creation, we join our sisters and brothers in the ecumenical family in prayer and action for our common home. As part of our observance of the Season of Creation, the Eco-Justice Committee is providing special services that you can use in your own parish or private worship. We are grateful to Sister Barbara Kane, OP, for writing this week’s service.

Season of Creation
Second Sunday – September 11, 2022

Introductory Comments
The scriptures of the second Sunday challenge the idolatry of wealth and consumption in today’s world while assuring us of God’s forgiveness and readiness to welcome our return, what Pope Francis has called our “Integral ecological conversion.” And they point us toward the mission that God is offering us despite our past destructive lifestyles.

A reading from Exodus (32:7-11, 13-14)

  • The golden calf is an apt symbol for the destructive sinfulness of these times that threatens the planet and all who call it home. What is it that we ‘worship’ that might disregard and sacrifice poor and marginalized peoples, nature, and the web of life?

Responsorial Psalm 51:3-4,12-13,17,19

R I will rise and go to my Father.

  • Can we trust that God will accept our broken and contrite hearts?

A reading from St. Paul’s first letter to Timothy (1:2-17)

  • Paul acknowledges his destructive actions before his conversions but thanks God for God’s mercy and that God chose him for mission to show how great God’s patience and mercy are for us. Can we acknowledge what we have done to hurt creation? What mission might God be calling us to?


A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (15:1-32)
 

  • The Pharisees criticize Jesus because he “welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Jesus does that because his mission is to embody God’s love and forgiveness. How do we embody God’s love and forgiveness for creation and all marginalized people?

 

Music Selections – optional

E – Entrance | O – Offertory | C – Communion | D – Dismissal

E – Sing to the Mountains (OCP)
O – For the Beauty of the Earth (Folliet S. Pierpoint)
C – Shepherd Me, O God (GIA)
D – Canticle of the Sun (GIA)

Click to download and print a PDF of this service.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog