June 2006 - Volume 10, Issue 11

Editorial – Become An Instrument Of Peace

By Rev. Mark Connolly

Photograph of Rosa ParksDuring the course of everyone's life we hear the story of individuals all by themselves affecting major changes in our society. We have all heard the story of Rosa Parks who would not go to the back of the bus that eventually led to the Civil Rights movement. We have all heard the story of Candy Lightner who lost a loved one when her child was killed by a drunken driver and she established an organization called Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). The internet is full of individual stories of individual people who wanted to make a difference and leave the world a better place than they found it.

If you study the life of St. Francis of Assisi, you might recall that he did fundamentally the same thing, going from one town to the next preaching the simple gospel of Christ and trying to make a difference in that small town. St. Francis is the author of the following beautiful prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
when there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying [to ourselves] that we are born to eternal life.

That applies to every person no matter what their religious persuasion might be. Each one of us rents a portion of God's earth. Each one of us has an obligation to God to leave that portion of earth that God has loaned us and return it better than we found it.

When you think of all the wonderful work that the environmentalists are trying to do, it is very easy to criticize them because they put restrictions on violating the world that God has created. When you analyze it, many of us might never have any great impact on the flow of the Mississippi, we might not have any impact on the global warming problem that is now going all through out the world, but each one of us can do a little more than we are now doing. When you think of the people who litter and expect someone to clean up after them, when you think of the people who drop refuse all over the place and have no problem of conscience, this is a reminder to all of us that it would be nice if each one did his share. But the tragedy is that each one does not do his share. It becomes incumbent upon each one of us to pick up the litter that others drop, to do away with the refuse that other leave. That is part of our environmental challenge. But another challenge that is in our environment is one that everyone can fulfill and it is contained in this prayer, Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Each one of us can become an instrument of peace in a very simple way. Wherever you live there is probably a nursing home where people do not get a visit form the day they enter until the day they die. Isn't it tragic today when you think of all the sacrifices our parents made for us that many parents in nursing homes, in fact almost seven out of ten never get a visitor from the day they enter until the day they die. Many of us reading this editorial will never do what Rosa Parks did in inaugurating the Civil Rights movement, but each one is capable of being a mentor to a young person that has very little direction at home. Each one of us can write a letter to a sponsor of a television program when they are putting on rotten and lewd material. Each one of us can write a note to the television or radio manager when the language that comes over the airways is foul and rancid. Each one of us is capable of becoming an instrument of peace by just taking the initiative by getting away from our sense of self absorption that always enables us to concentrate exclusively on ourselves and ignore the problems that are taking place right in your own back yard. We have such a strange mentality on our country when we want something to be done. We want the government to do it, the State to do it, the Church to do it or some other organization. But it never dawns on us that we have individual talents that God has given to us and given to no one else. Those talents, properly used, can make you become an instrument of peace to those who are in want and need.

Yes, we are all living with the tragedy of Katrina. As tragic as that catastrophe was, it brought out the fact that a lot of people from all over our country came together just to help those who were involved in this terrible catastrophe. You really do not have to wait for a Katrina in your own neighborhood. There are people in nursing homes, in hospitals, in mental institutions that would just like a kind visit and a kind word from you.

That is your way of becoming an instrument of peace.