‘Be not afraid!’

Before the Cross - Archbishop Robert J. Carlson's Column

‘In Truth, Peace’ For the past several years, the Holy Father has issued a special message for Jan. 1, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, concluding the Christmas Octave, which also has been designated as World Day of Peace.The Holy Father’s message is an inspiration and practical help to Catholics and to all people of good will who work for peace in their homes, local communities, nations and our world.Each year, the message has a different theme which highlights some aspect of the gift of peace and of our call to be peacemakers. "In Truth, Peace" is the theme of this year’s message, the first message of Pope Benedict XVI, for the World Day of Peace.The theme calls our attention to the irreplaceable foundation of peace, which is truth.Peace is the fruit of the order in our lives and in society, which has its source in knowledge of the truth and living the truth in justice and love. In his message, our Holy Father teaches us that "peace appears as a heavenly gift and a divine grace which demands at every level the exercise of the highest responsibility: that of conforming human history — in truth, justice, freedom and love — to the divine order."He calls to mind St. Augustine of Hippo’s description of peace, "the tranquility of order" ("tranquillitas ordinis"), reminding us that peace is the condition which makes it possible for each man and woman to be respected in his or her true identity, and to develop personally, in accord with God’s plan (n. 4). Lying, the enemy of peace Truth is a fundamental requirement for the promotion of peace.Lying, the opposite of truth, fosters confusion, disorder, violence and death.Satan deceived Adam and Eve with a lie in the Garden of Eve.Abandoning the truth from God for the attraction of Satan’s lie, Adam and Eve gave up the trust which they had with God and the peace which flows from it. Our Lord Jesus has taught us that Satan is "the father of lies" (John 8:44). Our sins are all, at root, a form of lying, deceiving ourselves and others about what is good and right.We are often most clever at deceiving ourselves, talking ourselves into doing what we know is wrong.We can become so clever that we actually begin to believe our own self-deceptions and the lies we tell to others. Christ came to save us from our sin by revealing to us the fullness of truth about God, ourselves and our world.Christ brings us the grace to overcome the temptation to lying and to serve truth, restoring trust with God and with one another. Truth and the new evangelization One of the greatest challenges of the new evangelization — of living our Catholic faith with the enthusiasm and energy of the first disciples — is restoring the respect for the truth.Our secularized society teaches us to use language which is pleasing to ourselves and others while covering our eyes from the truth.It teaches us to say whatever will advance our own interests without respect for objective reality.For instance, we blind ourselves to the reality of procured abortion by referring to it as a woman’s choice.Now, we are told that embryo-destructive stem-cell research is really about life-saving cures, and we call the cloning of human embryos, in order to destroy them for the harvesting of stem cells, somatic nuclear cell transfer.Our late and most beloved Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical letter Evangelium vitae, reminded us that a first step to restoring the respect for the inviolable dignity of innocent and defenseless human life is calling things by their true and proper names (n. 58). The whole teaching of the faith, which leads to a life of prayer and Christian witness, depends upon a deep and uncompromising respect for the truth.Saying what people want to hear is not what will draw them and our world to Christ.It will not lead them to prayer and worship.It turns prayer into "talking to ourselves."At the same time, it so compromises our Christian witness that we are the cause of scandal, pretending that we can do good by doing evil.The new evangelization, our daily conversion of life and the transformation of our world, depends upon our taking the care to study the truth of the faith and to communicate it with the greatest possible care. New evangelization and the annual March for Life The annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., which will take place this year on Jan. 23, is an outstanding form of the new evangelization, of giving witness to the truth about the inviolable dignity of innocent human life from the moment of its inception until the moment of natural death.It is a most effective way to open our eyes and the eyes of society to the truth about procured abortion, euthanasia, embryo-destructive stem-cell research and any other form of violation of the dignity of human life. Because of my conviction about the necessity to give witness to the truth about the inviolable dignity of innocent human life, I, together with many faithful from the Archdiocese of St. Louis and other dioceses in our nation, and men and women of good will, participate in the March for Life.I ask your prayers that all who participate in the March for Life may be courageous witnesses to the truth about human life and, thereby, effective instruments in bringing the gift of peace to our homes and nation. I close with an exhortation to us all from the message of Pope Benedict XVI for this year’s World Day of Peace: "When we hear the Gospel, dear brothers and sisters, we learn to build peace on the truth of a daily life inspired by the commandment of love. Every community should undertake an extensive process of education and witness aimed at making everyone more aware of the need for a fuller appreciation of the truth of peace.At the same time, I ask for an increase of prayers, since peace is above all a gift of God, a gift to be implored incessantly.By God’s help, our proclamation and witness to the truth of peace will be all the more convincing and illuminating.With confidence and filial abandonment let us lift up our eyes to Mary, Mother of the Prince of Peace.At the beginning of this New Year, let us ask her to help all God’s people, wherever they may be, to work for peace and to be guided by the light of the truth that sets man free" (cf. John 8:32) (n. 16).

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