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By Sister Anna Marie Reha, Provincial Councilor
Anna Marie Reha, SSND

The well-known African-American spiritual, “Peace is flowing like a river,” whose original writer and composer are unknown, echoes in my heart and mind as we acknowledge International Day of Peace.

Peace is flowing like a river

This simile, “peace like a river,” is from Isaiah 66:12 – “I will extend to [Jerusalem] peace like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.” How does a river flow? At times when we look at a river, we see it as meandering idyllically and other times, as a raging force to be reckoned with. The Río Cahabón is a 196-kilometre-long (122 mi) river in eastern Guatemala. I have seen its menacing rapids as it barrels down the mountain and crashes over rocks. At one point, the river pours into a cave beneath the limestone pools of Semuc Champey and reemerges several hundred feet downstream into a wide, flowing river. It is an impressive sight but there is nothing peaceful about it.

Some think of peace as tranquility, but to get to that place requires the driving force of a river’s mighty current. It means speaking truth to power and demanding change to unjust systems. There is no such thing as a stagnate river, just as working for justice and peace is not passive. To have peace in our world is to pray, advocate and act against violence and injustice and work to create peace.

Flowing out of you and me

2020 Prayer for Peace. Sisters at OLGC gathered around the Peace Pole on the International Day of Prayer for Peace for a simple, socially-distanced, masked prayer service.

Paul VI’s simple words, “If you want peace, work for justice,” have guided not only my life, but also the Shalom – Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation ministry of the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND). We must let the water flow through us and move us to act with audacity. We base our lives on the call of the Gospel, which is fleshed out in our rich Catholic social teaching that recognizes the dignity of each person and all of creation. Our SSND Directional Statement, Love Gives Everything, states, “We educate, advocate, and act in collaboration with others for the dignity of life and the care of all creation (YAS, C 9, 17; GD 19). We are all called to act with justice and mercy and together we can create a sustainable and equitable world.

Setting all the captives free

In Amos 5:24, we hear, “let justice roll down like water and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” The mission of Jesus is clearly summarized in Luke 4:18-19 and the call to give sight to the blind, liberty to the captives and deliverance to the oppressed. Who are the captives today? Amos call means giving God’s justice and mercy to immigrants, the imprisoned and those treated the least among us. It is advocating for human dignity, offering mercy, seeking the common good, demanding racial justice and protecting the environment.

The five areas of focus for the Central Pacific province can be found on our advocacy page. In a world plagued by violence and injustice, the International Day of Peace is about creating a just and peaceful world. One symbol of this desire is the Peace Pole, which reminds us to think, speak and act in the spirit of peace. For this reason, groups of sisters, colleagues and friends will gather around this symbol on September 21 and be reminded of our common desire for peace on Earth as we pray: May peace prevail on Earth!

 
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