Margaret Anna Cusack, known in religion as Mother Francis Clare, founded the Sisters of St Joseph of Peace to promote peace in family life, in the church, and in society. I often pray with what Bishop Bagshawe, who supported the new community, said at the profession of the first Sisters in 1884:
“To secure this divine peace for ourselves and procure its blessings for others in the midst of the sin, turmoil, and restless anxiety of this modern world is the object of your institute.”
No small task, this mission of peace that Jesus speaks of in the Gospels.
And 131 years later, what would Bagshawe make of the sin, turmoil, and restless anxiety of our early 21st century. In some ways we are more familiar, too familiar with it, brought into our lives as it is each day through television screens and Facebook feeds. We look, we see, we are moved … And then what? To what end?
Fourteen years ago many of us woke up to sheer terror on our television screens, watching planes crash into towers of glass and steel, knowing that human beings were inside them.
Fourteen years ago in response to terror, we launched our wars on terror. Wars beget wars. Suffering builds on suffering. And our sisters and brothers in Iraq and Afghanistan and now Syria are caught in the mess, striving to live lives of laughter and love in peace.
Fourteen years ago today I became a peace activist, reorienting my personal life and mission. It is good to be reminded of that as I go into this day. How can I be a peaceful presence with those I meet today? Where are my opportunities to influence policies and practices that promote peace? How am I called to conversion in my own heart, my own way of being in this world?
In the midst of sin, turmoil and restless anxiety, I am called to hold fast to the vision and mission of peace, in the company of other people of peace. I have to believe that even that makes a difference.