November 6, 2014 | Issue 6

Chaplains' Newsletter
Lest We Forget

 

Living out God's peace
 

On Remembrance Day, November 11, we as Canadians pause to remember the sacrifices made in order to ensure the freedom that we enjoy today. We remember and pray for all victims of war and violence and for those serving in our armed forces. More importantly, we pray that God's peace reign throughout the world. The challenge for each of us is how to carry that peace in our everyday lives.

 

There are many places around the world where there is conflict and violence - both abroad and closer to home. All you need to do is to read or watch the news on television, internet, or through social media. It is all too easy to be filled with gloom, anxiety, and fear when we hear of such tragic stories.

 

Discouragement and hopelessness can have the capacity to paralyze us, unless we hold firm to the hope that we can radiate hope and peace even in very simple and humble ways. St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan from 374 to 397, once wrote: "Begin the work of peace within yourself so that once you are at peace yourself you can bring peace to others." Here are some questions to ponder in your own reflection or to discuss with your students:

 

  • What are ways in which I can be a bearer of God's peace in the world?
  • Who in my own life are people that bear God's peace in the world? What strikes me about them
  • When I am frightened by darkness and paralyzed by fear, what enables me to realize that Christ's light and peace are near?

 

God's peace is made manifest by loving with compassion. Having compassion allows us to see others as they truly are - as God's creation. When we realize that God loves us, it allows our hearts to open up - sometimes in very unexpected ways.

 

This reminds me of a beautiful story that occurred amidst the horrific tragedy that recently took place in Ottawa with the death of Corporal Nathan Cirillo. A day after this happened, as I drove home, I listened to CBC Radio and heard the story of Ottawa lawyer, Barbara Winters, who was close by the National War Memorial when she heard gun shots - those fired at Cpl. Cirillo. She quickly ran toward the scene to offer help. While others tried to revive him, she felt compelled to hold the soldier's hand - someone she didn't know - and constantly told him how much he was loved by his family and his country. She said, "Your military family loves you. Look at these people, we're all here helping you. We're all trying to do what we can for you. We all love you." I was extremely moved by this story, by this woman's simple gesture of love and compassion which hopefully brought the gift of peace in his final moments of life. Click on this website to hear the entire interview.

 

Exploring the Saints: Saint Elizabeth of Hungary

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

On November 17, the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, religious. Elizabeth was the daughter of the Hungarian King Andrew II. At the age of four (b. 1207), she was brought to the court of her future husband, Ludwig, landgrave of Thuringia. After her marriage in 1221, she very conscientiously fulfilled her duties both toward her husband and as a servant of God. During the night she would rise from bed and spend long periods in prayer. Zealously she performed all types of charitable acts; she put herself at the service of widows, orphans, the sick, and the needy. During a famine she generously distributed all the grain from her stocks, cared for lepers in one of the hospitals she established, kissed their hands and feet. For the benefit of the indigent she provided suitable lodging.

 

After the early death of her husband (in 1227 while on a crusade led by Emperor Frederick II), Elizabeth laid aside all royal dignities in order to serve God more freely. She put on simple clothing, became a tertiary of St. Francis, and showed great patience and humility.

 

In 1228 she took the veil of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis at Marburg and there built a hospital with some property still belonging to her. She retained for herself only a small mud house. All her strength and care were now devoted to the poor and the sick, while she obtained the few things she needed by spinning. Young in years but rich in good works, she slept in the Lord in 1231, only 24years old.

 

Excerpted from  The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch


St. Elizabeth's life story is an inspiring one, as she demonstrated her love for the poor, thereby following Christ, in a very genuine way. May we learn to follow her example in our own lives. Have a conversation with your students on how they can help those less fortunate in concrete ways. Perhaps this might take on the form of volunteering at a food bank or soup kitchen, praying for those less fortunate, or starting a drive to collect funds, food, or clothing for the poor.


Prayer Resources for Remembrance Day 

 

The following prayer is taken from the website of the Canadian Catholic Bishops in which there is a special section devoted to "Prayers for the Canadian Forces."

 

God of our salvation,

we honour those who died

in defence of country and freedom.

Grant them eternal rest

and peace to us who keep faith with them.

Lead us to abhor the violence and hatred of war

and imitate the example of your Son,

who peacefully gave his life

to be our peace and reconciliation

and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Amen.

 

This site serves as a good resource of Catholic prayers, intercessions, and lectionary readings that are appropriate for Remembrance Day.

 

The Saskatoon Catholic School Board provides a model for a Remembrance Day Liturgy of the Word. 

 

For a more traditional Remembrance Day service, Veterans Affairs offers several resources on its website.
 

For Reflection
 

Finally, I leave with this beautiful setting of the "Prayer of St. Francis", arranged and performed by Canadian musician Sarah McLachlan.  Nearly 800 years later, the words of St. Francis of Assisi echo true and challenge us to be channels of God's peace in our world.

 
Prayer of St. Francis by Sarah McLachlan


May our hearts welcome God's peace and joy, so that we may fully love and serve one another.


In communion,

 

Janet Loo

Campus Minister/Director of Chamber Choir

King's University College

janet.loo@kings.uwo.ca

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King's University College
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