Working in Lille in France recently and I walked into Saint Maurice’s Church on a Sunday evening for the 7 0’clock Mass. A wonderful setting (not as nice as our own Catherdral of Saint Patrick & St Colman but I declare that this is my biased opinion) and a wonderful occasion. The congregation about 150 in total and of all ages, engaged fully in the celebration of the Mass, singing praying and all gathered standing in fromt of the altar for the Our Father. After Mass soft drinks were served in the side isle and it was a real faith community occasion.
There were 4 young ladies members of the French Guides who on approaching the altar to receive holy communion genuflected and blessed themselves before receiving the Body Of Christ. A tradition I am reliably informed traverses the borders of nations, Guides, Scouts and Briginis all conduct themselves in this manner regardless of country of origin.
Now what caught my eye as I entered the Church was the banner ereted over the knave, it read Es -Tu Artisan De Paix? This translates into English as, ‘Are you a peace maker?’ Upon further examination of the banner I found that the two I’s are dotted with doves of peace. White Doves the international symbols of peace, freedom, or love, appear in the symbolism of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and paganism. But these were blue.
The banner is a wonderful statement, message and even challenge to us all. Do we make peace? Even the colour of the French language adds to the message – the use of the word artisan evokes thoughts of master crafts people, arst experts, people creating, crafting or building peace.
So the challenge for us all is how do we become peace makers? Not massive international peace makers creating harmony between warring nations, rather how can we go about assisting others, lending a hand, extending the hand of friendship, giving time, affording a listening ear and reaching out to assist others overcome troubles, worry or distress? How can we build bridges often within our own families, friends and neighbours? How can we take the first step to overcome gaps, challenges and barriers? How do act out the teachings of our faith?
How can we move to become an active acolyte of Jesus by adopting certain principles and taking specific actions to promote peace in your family, relationships, workplace interactions and communities. How can we cultivate peace?
Our first step on our Christian journey is that of self reflection, start by cultivating inner peace within ourselves. If we can achieve peace within ourselves then we have success. Take time and reflect on our own attitudes, biases, and behaviors that may contribute to conflicts, especially in today’s world of social media where our response is often immediate and not well thought out. Develop a position of iner peace built on empathy, understanding, and self-control.
As an artisan of peace work on your communication and active listening, try and achieve open and respectful communication. If we develop a skill in learning to actively listen to others, seeking to understand their perspectives and experiences without judgment then we become more aware and achieve greater inner peace. In our engagement with others, build a constructive dialogue, one that focuses on finding common ground and solutions. This approach then allows us to build common ground of understanding and empathy: We can then work to foster an environment where different viewpoints and backgrounds are respected and valued. Encourage dialogue and collaboration to bridge divides and build connections.
Each and every on of us can be leaders. We can lead by example, become a role model for peaceful behavior, communication and friendship. As we become the craftsmen and crafytswomen of peace we demonstrate compassion, respect, and fairness in our daily interactions, we show others the positive impact that peace and understanding can have.
Remember, promoting peace is an ongoing effort, and it requires patience, perseverance, and continuous learning. Small actions and gestures can contribute to a more peaceful world. It is a wonderful acomplishment because it delivers inner peace first and then radiates out to assist others.
Matthews Beatitudes caputure the essence of this perfectly
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’.Matthew 5:9
Of all the things we make or build in life would not creating peace and harmony be our best lasting testimony?