May 21, 2024

The Interfaith Peace Project continues its ongoing observance of the International Day of Peace, September 21, by sending out a reflection on the twenty-first of every month. We invite you share in this effort by sending any articles or information that you would like to share to:

Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P
[email protected]

As the Easter Season concludes in the West and continues in the East, our friend, Brian, offers a powerful reflection in this time of trouble. We continue to observe the 21st of every month in honor of the International Day of Peace, September 21st. Let us continue to work together for the benefit, well-being, and security of all. 

Paschal candle in a majestic palace by Gefo Adobe Stock 754371444

Continuing to Honor
The International Day of Peace

The Easter Vigil has always been a high point in my liturgical year. Still, my spiritual experience of our celebration of the risen Christ has continued to evolve through the years. My life experience and, hopefully, some maturation along the way contribute to my spiritual growth and outlook. Four significant elements underscore the Vigil celebration: the blessing of the fire and lighting of the Pascal candle, stories of creation and the plight of the Israelites, the blessing of water (for Baptisms), and summoning the Holy Spirit for the breaking of the bread and sharing of the cup.

Other great spiritual traditions of the world have also used elements of fire, water, and air to celebrate the divine and sacred earth that imposes so many blessings on life and humanity. How, then, is it possible for us to celebrate a two-thousand-year-old tradition that underscores joy, happiness, and hope in our current world filled with so much division, hate, so much violence, and so much confusion in our current world? In light of my recent experience of this year’s vigil, I humbly offer some insights.

It has been a tradition of the Christian Church, originally “followers of the way,” to recall the stories of creation. While God saw each day of creation as “good,” it wasn’t until after the creation of humans that God acknowledged it was “very” good. The text of the Hebrew Scripture doesn’t state that humans are perfect; it doesn’t discriminate between sex, gender, race, or citizenship; it doesn’t even distinguish between people of different religions.

The stories of creation also invite me to bless the earth and all its splendor, which each day continues to bless us and all humanity. The blessing of the water reminds me that it is already holy by its very existence. The life-sustaining sacredness of water invites me to bless a warming planet that has continued to bless so much of humankind through the centuries. The sanctity of creation invites me to awaken each day consciously so that I might live conscientiously to protect and preserve our warming planet.

The traditional blessing of the fire used to light the Pascal Candle reminds me of the sanctity of fire for heat and warmth, but the light of the candle resembles the light of Christ in a darkened world. We, too, are that light; I am that same light. The ancient Exsultet prays the candle may be found undimmed and still burning by the Morning Star, Christ the Son, who shed his peaceful light on humanity.

The traditional pins pressed into the Pascal Candle to symbolize Jesus’s wounds and all He suffered invite me to remember all who are suffering. When we celebrate the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup, the words spoken, “Do this in remembrance of me,” invite me to remember the afflicted, especially the children in Gaza, Israel, Ukraine, the Southern border, and those displaced from their homes and families who hunger and thirst. As I meditate on the light of Christ, I must acknowledge the light that I possess, the same light that I embody as the Risen Jesus, co-heir and co-participator. If I choose, I will help fulfill the ancient tradition of Isaiah and become a part of that light on the hill for all humanity.

Suffering doesn’t have to be this way. Oppression by others doesn’t have to be this way. With truth as my guide, the personal wounds or injustices I have experienced can invite me to respond with compassion and love. Perhaps the words, “Do this in remembrance of me,” invite me to remember the afflicted and perform any small act I can to help. The ultimate question may not be, “What would Jesus do,” but “What is Jesus doing?” Rather, what am I doing? The light of hope proclaims that whoever is oppressed can be risen. As part of the same light, I can proclaim, “Alleluia!”

-Brian Padilla
Dixon, CA