Monday, July 17, 2006

For the Peace of the World

Around the world we see conflict among the nations and between different factions in country fighting for political power. Lust for power and ignorance of Truth drive men and women to commit acts of evil against their fellow humans. The secular philosophies and false religions of those who do not know the true and living God spread destruction. Many are deceived, thinking that they are doing good when they do evil. Their hearts are full of hatred. They yearn for vengeance against their enemies when they do the same evil against their adversaries that they despise being visited upon themselves. Even those who do not fight actively sympathize with those who murder innocents because they want revenge. They blame their enemies and curse them without realizing that the forces they support are part of the same continuous cycle of savage retribution. Many gather together in the streets to cry out for retaliation. They even teach their children to hate, poisoning the pure hearts of little ones with their own self-destructive anger, prideful contempt, and disregard for the beauty of life.

The earth is full of violence. As Orthodox Christians we must stand for peace. May we condemn the cycle of brutality and call for all people to break the ever-spinning wheel with the strong hammer of forgiveness.

In the midst of war, let us pray for peace. In many of our services, we sing the Litany of Peace (or Great Litany), a prayer that begins with these words:

In peace let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For the peace from above, and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For the peace of the whole world; for the good estate of the holy churches of God, and for the union of all men, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

As we pray for peace through the Litany when we are gathered together as the Church, let's also pray for peace during our private prayers.

Through our relationship with God we can acquire true peace in our hearts, nurture it, and humbly manifest it in our relationships with others. We are called to be agents of peace in the world around us. "Blessed are the peacemakers," Christ taught us, "for they will be called the children of God."

Peace destroys the dominion of violence and chaos in our own souls and in the world. It brings forgiveness and love for our enemies. One way we can bring peace into our chaotic cosmos is through prayer. Let's pray that the peace of God will descend upon us and the nations. Let's also pray that the Orthodox Christian Church will radiate divine peace throughout the world so people will love instead of hate, confess their own sins rather than accuse others, grant forgiveness instead of retribution, and seek to heal rather than hurt.

Prayers for peace and advice from the Saints on peacemaking are available at In Communion, the website of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship. The Paraklesis to the Most Holy Theotokos, to be prayed in times of distress, is available on the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia website.

Since much violence has recently erupted in the Middle East, let us keep all Orthodox Christians in the ancient Patriarchates of Jerusalem and Antioch in our prayers, especially those in the Archdioceses of Tyre & Sidon, Beirut, Mount Lebanon, Gaza, Nazareth, and Tiberias and the Galilee, who find themselves in the midst of war.

Let's remember the words we pray when we gather in our local churches in the evenings for the service of Great Compline, singing "Lord, have mercy" after each petition:

Let us pray for the peace of the world, and for pious and Orthodox Christians, and for our Metropolitan PHILIP and our Bishop... and all our brotherhood in Christ, and for the civil authorities of this land, and for the welfare of our armed forces, and for our fathers and brethren absent from among us, and for those who hate us and those who love us, and for those who are kind to us and minister unto us, and for those who have requested our prayers unworthy though we be, and for the deliverance of captives, and for travelers by land and sea and air, and for those who lie in sickness, and let us pray also for the abundance of the fruits of the earth, and for the soul of every Orthodox Christian. Let us bless God-fearing leaders, Orthodox bishops, the founders of this holy church and our parents and teachers, and all our fathers and brethren gone before us, the Orthodox who here and everywhere lie asleep in the Lord. Let us also say for ourselves: Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Copyright © 2006 by Dana S. Kees. (The image is from the NASA library.)