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Thursday, 08 January 2015 22:38

Peace is purpose within the mended mind

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Fr Frank Freeman sdbPeace is conceived in recognition of human fragility and born in a change of attitude. Peace demands a mentality and a spirit which, before turning to others, must permeate the one who wishes to bring peace, writes Salesian Father Frank Freeman sdb in his editorial in the December 2014 edition of The Salesian Bulletin that resonates in this New Year, beyond Christmas.

There is a great deal to suggest that the world is becoming more violent. Statistics of crimes of violence are soaring. Terrorism has become an everyday instrument of political action. Nightly our mass media carry reports of atrocities in the Middle East, the summary executions of captured soldiers, the heartless bombing of hospitals, schools and family homes and the recent shooting down of a commercial airliner with great loss of life. Prominent among the victims are, of course, children and the defenceless. “Homo homini lupus, Man is a wolf to man” was a popular Roman proverb attributed to Plautus. Yet still so many talk of peace and I often wonder what it is that they mean by the word ‘peace’. Like other often-used words, such as ‘truth’, ‘justice’ or ‘love’, peace is a word which has many and varied meanings according to personal experiences.

Too often it is thought of as some magical gift which comes from somewhere out there, or up there, instead of being a state of mind and a sense of well being. For the truth is that, like other human attainments, peace is a result; it has to be worked for and does not come easily. Peace is conceived in recognition of human fragility and born in a change of attitude; it is the child of an honest mind and sensitive heart. Peace demands a mentality and a spirit which, before turning to others, must permeate the one who wishes to bring peace. Peace is first and foremost personal before it is social for, as the old saying would have it, “peace within makes beauty without.”

Time for sincere thought and time for repentance and amendment are necessary prerequisites for attaining personal peace and a sense of well being. “No one can give what one has not got” is an ancient philosophical dictum. So peace is purpose within the mended mind and when minds are mended, peace is attainable.

It is this belief that peace is attainable that preserves the shuddering, uncertain world from collapse. Without this belief human life would no longer count for much, and indifference to suffering would be widespread; then indeed we would have little to hope for. Fortunately, there is still much to suggest that human beings have not lost their faith in the quest for peace.

In a few short weeks, we will once more celebrate the great mystery of our faith, the Incarnation, the overflow of the mystery of the Blessed Trinity into time and space and into our history. And yet it happened so simply and in a warm, human way in the surrounds of a country stable in Bethlehem, far from the jostling halls of commerce and the political intrigue in Jerusalem.

“While all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of its course, your almighty word leapt down from heaven from thy royal throne.” The angelic choirs proclaimed peace to all of good will, those who are willing, with mended minds and purpose, to rise above the violent, bustling noise and confusing complexity of the world.

May we all, as we celebrate this ‘Christ’s Mass’, forsake many of the empty tinsel practices of the commercial world to find quietness and simple heart-warming ways of strengthening the bonds of peace, friendship and family life.

This was first published in the December 2014 edition of The Salesian Bulletin, the magazine of the Salesians of Don Bosco in Australia and Pacific.