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In this intercession for peace on behalf of our brothers and sisters, we raise our hands and voices in praise and thanksgiving to you Almighty God, King of eternity and Lord of history. Creator of all and Father of goodness, we bend our knees and humble our hearts as we contemplate the wonder of your being, the mystery of your love, and the miracle of our lives.
God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, you are not known to abandon your drowning faithful who cry to you mid-stream. Rather, faithfulness is in the very nature of your being. The Psalmist assures us that those who know you, who cling to your name, when they call upon you in time of distress, you will be at their side to save them. We read in the book of Exodus that with a mighty hand you saw the oppressed children of Israel through the Red Sea dry shod while the chariots of their merciless pursuers perished in the swamp. When on Mount Carmel the corrupt devotees of Baal and Ashterot took on your servant Elijah, you did not abandon him in the hour of need. Instead your vindication brought down a consuming fire. When at the Sea of Galilee the boat in which the disciples of Jesus were travelling was threatened by a violent storm, they were not abandoned to their fate. Your eternal Son spoke the word of power and all was calm again. And when at a time of acute persecution your servants, Peter and John, cried to you from their prison cells, you did not look the other way. You miraculously loosened their bonds and threw open the gates of their jail house.
Make all things new in our own day as you promised in the Book of Revelations. Fulfil the promise you made through the Prophet Ezekiel that "I will give them one heart and put a new spirit within them; I will take the stony heart out of their bodies and give them a heart of flesh..." In this new year, Oh God of Majesty and Rock of Ages, I pray that the dream of Prophet Isaiah concerning the time of cosmic reconciliation may come true for us in this country: that wolves and sheep will live together in peace, and leopards will lie down with young goats...that cows and bear will eat together, and their calves and cubs will lie down in peace...that lions will eat straw as cattle do...and that even a baby will not be harmed if it plays near a poisonous snake. Yes, let Isaiah's dream be realised in our day that they shall hammer their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Let the dream of the Psalmist be fulfilled, that kindness and truth shall meet, and justice and peace shall kiss; that truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice look down from heaven.
As the year 2002 begins Father of all goodness, I ask you to visit Nigeria with your gentle spirit of repentance, conversion, forgiveness, reconciliation and peace. Let your spirit of repentance and conversion pull down the mountains of hate and fill up the valleys of greed that are the principal obstacles to our national development. Let your spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation strike all vengeful hearts and like a divine shock therapy, heal the layers of resentment that are the cause of mutual acrimony and intermittent hostility in the world.
Wonderful Counsellor, as the year 2002 begins, you know how desperately the men and women of today desire peace in the world, yet we pursue a lifestyle of injustice, hatred, violence and war. Help us therefore to recognise, that peace will not result just from our wishing it. Teach us that to have peace in our society and in the world we must first have peace in our hearts. Let this generation know that we cannot shake hands with clenched fists, that just as we cannot get a rose through planting a noxious weed, we cannot have peace while harbouring hate in our hearts. Impress this truth upon the aggrieved peoples everywhere.
Disarm our hearts Lord Oh God of peace, and free our world from the circle of violence of war. Let our hearts nurture peace and cultivate love instead of hatred, violence and vengeance. Help us to recognise that the God of peace is never glorified by human violence. Help us recognise that violence is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, and destroying the very thing it claims to defend. Enable us appreciate that darkness cannot drive out darkness and so returning violence for violence only multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Help us to accept the words of Mahatma Gandhi that "counter hatred only increases the surface and depth of hatred."
God of infinite goodness, make us see clearly with Pope John Paul II that violence is the failure of all authentic humanism, for it goes against the very truth of humanity, it destroys the very fabric of human society, and it violence the work of justice. Yes help us Oh Lord to accept the truth that as a personal or social method, violence is totally incapable of changing anything. Make us heed the passionate call of this Pope who not long ago had the cause to say to the men and women of the world: "on my knees I beg you to turn away from the paths of violence and to return to the ways of peace." Grant Lord a heart of flesh to the men and women of my country and my generation, that we may heed the prophetic call of this spiritual leader.
Ah Lord show the men and women of our age that the Christian teaching of indiscriminate love, embracing friend and so-called enemy, has become a practical necessity, for with the present level and dimension of violence, humanity is on the verge of committing suicide. Show us that the basic Christian teaching of unconditional love has become an imperative, in an age when indiscriminate destruction threatens the human community and the planet entrusted to its care. Make us recognise the fact that the choice before us today is no longer between violence and non-violence. It is either non-violence or non-existence.
Help us Lord to break the cycle of violence in the world and in our society. Make the men and women of this and future generations know that the brave and the heroic are not those who can kill, oppress, dominate, and cause untold hardship for others. Make us know that the truly brave are those who can forgive, those who can love in return for hatred, those who can transform an enemy into a friend. Help us to see that it is in loving and forgiving those who tortured and killed him that Jesus revealed the full potential of humanity. Reveal to us the mystery of sacrificial love, that love which is the most subtle form of exorcism. Teach us the secret of your holy compassion that causes the devil so much distress.
Explain to us that there is another way of responding to evil and to the machinations of our enemies that has the potential of bringing peace, than the endless cycle of violence and retaliation in which we are today imprisoned. Show us the wisdom in the words of Pope John Paul II that no process of peace can ever begin unless an attitude of sincere forgiveness takes root in human hearts. Enable us to see with the late Pope what an essential condition mutual forgiveness is in the journey towards authentic and lasting peace in the world and in our nation. Make miracle-peddling Christians all over the place understand that the most remarkable miracle is not the transformation of water into wine, but the transformation of an enemy into a friend, for St. Paul did remark that what shows God’s immense love most is that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
God of all truth, make my brothers and sisters and I appreciate the fact that peace does not just happen, that it is the outcome of a sustained life of truth, justice, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and human solidarity. Make us understand that it is no use preaching peace unless we preach the things that make for peace. Help us to accept those wise words of Paul VI, that if you want peace you must work for justice. Show us that respect for human dignity and rights is the secret of peace, and that the peace of all only comes from the justice of each. Enable those who desire peace to heed the words of Prophet Micah by acting justly, by loving tenderly, and by walking humbly before you Oh Lord. Let all of us be conscious of the fact that a society cannot live in peace with itself unless every human person is treated with dignity and all human life without exception (even the life of the armed robber), is reverenced as sacred.
Merciful God, teach us the lesson that peace cannot be privatised, and that there is no room in this global village for pockets of peace amidst a world of poverty, oppression, violence and strife. Show us clearly that it is not your will that in the same society some people should live in abject poverty while others lead a life of conspicuous consumption. Enable us to know that all human beings are created in your image and likeness, and therefore each human person is inviolable. Impress upon us that "we are each responsible for all." Let us know that the fate of the politician threatened by the militant youth’s bullet is the same as the fate of the destitute poor threatened by starvation.
Make us understand that true human development is the advancement of the human person, the whole person, and all the people. Help us to recognise that the true measure of human civilisation is how the society takes care of the poor, the weak, the aged, the handicapped, the social misfit, and all those who are not “productive” in the narrow sense of the word.
Father of all goodness, preach to us once again the Sermon on the Mount. Spell out clearly for our comprehension the nine lessons that constitute the kernel of the Gospel. Help us to appreciate the fact that contrary to the general perception, the poor are truly blessed, the gentle are truly blessed, those who mourn are truly blessed, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are truly blessed, the merciful are truly blessed, the pure in heart are truly blessed, the peacemakers are truly blessed, those persecuted in the cause of justice are truly blessed, and those abused and maligned for your sake are truly blessed. Make us accept the fact that all pretensions to the contrary notwithstanding, only the meek and the humble shall inherit the earth, and that only the peacemakers shall be called sons and daughters of God. Help us to see that the religion of Jesus Christ is not what Karl Marx called the opium of the people, but rather the most revolutionary instrument of social transformation. Help us to recognise Christianity as a force that exalts the lowly and casts down the proud, a force that feeds the hungry and sends the sated away empty. Impress on us the fact that Christ did not bring peace to the world as a kind of spiritual tranquilliser.
Lord enable us to overcome the widespread illusion that life is a property to be defended, that illusion which has given rise to so much violence. Instead Lord, make us grasp the truth that life is a gift to be shared. Grant us the understanding which brings peace, and the peace which surpasses all understanding. Yes, Lord, convince the men and women of this generation that all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, peace will be the last word of history. Let many of us be convinced of this so that we may not be afraid to take a chance on peace, that we may relentlessly work for peace in a world of strife, and that we may tirelessly teach peace amidst the deafening drums of war.
Show us Lord how to take a stand amidst the pervading darkness in deliberate clarity, calmness and confidence. Teach us how to be steadfast in perfect peace and cheerfulness, in the midst of tension, gloom, selfishness, and hatefulness. Above all, Lord, help us to hold on to our ideals in spite of everything. Show us that we cannot build up our hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death. Show us that in a world of madness it is crazy to surrender our dreams, and to begin to see life as it is rather than as it should be. Help us to keep our hope as long as we live, for as Dostoevsky says, to live without hope is to cease to live.
Pour out your Spirit from on high that right will dwell in the desert and justice will abide in the orchard, that justice will bring about peace, and right produce calm and security. We agree Lord, that where there is no vision, the people do perish, that a nation without integrity cannot know peace. We accept that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And we know that unless the Lord builds a house, the labourers labour in vain. So help those of us committed to the cause of peace to acknowledge the fact that only you God can give authentic peace.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord, the Prince of Peace. Amen.
Last Updated (Sunday, 25 March 2012 12:42)