By Sr Sheila Griffiths, The Holy Family Sisters in Bradford
Members of Pax Christi and J&P in the Diocese organised a prayer Service for Peace Sunday, January 17th, 2021. This was live streamed on Zoom that very same day. Since COVID restrictions on Church Services are at present in force, I tuned in to this service. Actually, since last March I have attended online meetings with the Pax Christi group in the diocese.
In his message for the Catholic Church’s World Day of Peace, Pope Francis appeals to the international community and every individual to foster a “culture of care” by advancing on the “path of fraternity, justice and peace between individuals, communities, peoples and nations.”
The service highlighted a culture of care for earth and humanity. In her opening introduction one of the members of Pax Christi brought out that Creation and Incarnation are an integral entity and that Christmas does not end when the decorations come down. Christ is incarnated in every event and especially in our service to one another and caring for our Common Home.
The following poem by Michael Doherty spells this out.
When the carols have been stilled,
When the star-topped tree is taken down,
When family and friends are gone home,
When we are back to our schedules
The work of Christmas begins:
To welcome the refugee,
To heal a broken planet,
To feed the hungry,
To build bridges of trust, not walls of fear,
To share our gifts,
To seek justice and peace for all people,
To bring Christ’s light to the world.
Another highlight of the programme was a rendering of part of a speech by Oscar Romero expressing his close involvement with people. Diarmuid O’ Murchu’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit, calling the Spirit to breathe down on this troubled world, followed by a moment of quiet to allow the participants to reflect on what touched them at this moment, gave time for personal involvement. A rousing chorus of the song, ‘These are the hands…’ sung by a group of school children, brought home to all the tenderness and love expressed by the many frontline workers since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, a great symbol of peace.
What impressed me a great deal was to note how the organisers were lay people, as were most of those who zoomed in. If only the clergy of our diocese could take such an interest and be creative in liturgical services.