Nonviolence in the Family, in the Atrium and in the Church

Monthly letters to help put the work of the catechist of the Good Shepherd into the context of the larger world · from the archives

April 2016

by Catherine Maresca

Easter Greetings! Every year since learning to observe Good Friday in somber silence as a child, I find that day intensely grasps my attention.  This year every painful loss of 2015 seemed to gather like layers of wax into a ball of pain big enough to close the tomb of Jesus. Saturday passed quietly. And then on Sunday the choir sang the Gospel song, “The Angel Rolled the Rock Away” and my “rock” dissolved into peace. Not a perfect metaphor and not a perfect peace but it seemed to catch both the pain and joy of the season for me.

As I pondered the Paschal mystery once again this is clear: though powerful, Jesus never used violence against others to defend himself or the Kindom he proclaimed. Instead his great love transformed his death and the terrible violence done against him into new and risen life. As we share in that risen life we can invite Jesus to transform our darkness into light, and the violence of our lives into love and mercy. These three resources may help us with that transformation.  

Ann Garrido is the author of Redeeming Conflict, Twelve Habits for Christian Leaders. I’m reading it now and finding every chapter to be compelling and clear. Whether as a leader, a catechist, a colleague, or a family member we all find ourselves embroiled in painful conflict at times. This book offers 12 habits to untangle the knot, consider the problem carefully, and seek resolution. Ann is a friend, a catechist, a formation leader, and professor and organizer for the MAPS program at Aquinas University. Look for her book here.

Peg Burns and I have written and published the third Occasional Paper in her series Living the Light, exploring Gospel Nonviolence in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. This paper focuses on how CGS presentations help us and the children to internalize Gospel Nonviolence. At Weaving Our Gifts in October Peg and I met with a group of catechists in one of the breakout sessions to name the presentations related to Christian Nonviolence. In 90 minutes we had barely covered Level I and II. We are so grateful to know our catechesis embraces and proclaims the Nonviolent Way of Jesus in both direct and indirect ways. Read it here.

And finally, last week in Rome, Pax Christi (an international Catholic peace organization) and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace reexamined the idea of a “just war” outlined by Augustine hundreds of years ago.  “The participants of a first-of-its-kind Vatican conference have bluntly rejected the Catholic church’s long-held teachings on just war theory, saying they have too often been used to justify violent conflicts and the global church must reconsider Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence” (NCR August 14 2016). We also need to reexamine the “just” war theory, abandon the idea of “just” war and “renew all the best available tools to help the men and women of today to fulfill their aspirations for justice and peace” (Pope Francis). Why are we doing this now? Read this essay and others from the National Catholic Reporter here.

May the peace of Christ be with you.

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