Peace that surpasses understanding
Did you know that twenty-five years ago, Assisi, Italy became the peace capital of the world? Pope John Paul II (2R) organized the first World Day of Prayer for Peace on October 27, 1986. Spiritual leaders from around the global gathered to pray for peace including African healers, the Dalai Lama (R), Rabbi Elio Toaff, Archbishop of Canterbury Robert A. K. Runcie (L), Muslim imams, Native American medicine men, the Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain Methodios (2L), Shintoists, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, and others (see photograph above taken in Assisi).
“For the first time in history, we have come together from everywhere, Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities, and World Religions, in this sacred place dedicated to Saint Francis, to witness before the world, each according to his own conviction, about the transcendent quality of peace.” – Pope John Paul II
To commemorate that historic gathering for peace, Pope Benedict will make a pilgrimage to Assisi on October 27 with spiritual leaders from around the world. The theme for this year’s gathering is “Pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace.”
Participate in peace
As a way of participating prayerfully in the 2011 Assisi peace gathering, the Coordinating Council of Spiritual Directors International will gather near Boston for an evening of contemplative practice: Cultivating Compassion: Moving toward Peace. Please join us in Boston on October 25, or consider creating a similar interfaith gathering for peace in your home communities the week of October 27.
Another way to participate in Cultivating Compassion: Moving toward Peace is to send us your prayer for peace. By October 5, send us (email@example.com) a prayer of ten words or less for peace, along with a picture of you, your name, your state, province, territory, and your country. We will include your prayer for peace in a slideshow that will be shared on October 25 and online.
Pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace
The theme of this year’s Assisi gathering, “Pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace,” highlights the spiritual journey we each take toward truth and peace. By learning about truth in spiritual traditions around the world, we become better stewards of our human, spiritual heritage. We become pilgrims of truth.
Meeting regularly with a spiritual companion helps us to seek truth, to become peaceful within, and to become courageous peace makers in our communities. In spiritual direction, we listen with a discerning heart and learn contemplative practices that still the busy mind. Over time, our hearts and minds learn to discern truth and to trust peace.
Ultimate Reality is being peace. Spiritual direction helps us participate fully in Ultimate Reality. God calls us to be people of peace. Meeting regularly with a spiritual companion fosters our unique response to God’s call to be people of peace. Together, may we walk life’s pilgrimage toward a peace that surpasses understanding. From whatever spiritual tradition we come, may we join in our contemplative practice with our Jewish brothers and sisters during the Yom Kippur High Holy Days and join the world in praying for peace on October 27.
How does meeting regularly with a spiritual director move you toward peace? What contemplative practices help you respond to God’s call to be people of peace?