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How can we find peace amidst all the noise?

It’s been more than three weeks since the bombing of Baghdad first began. It was the feast of St. Joseph and the Gospel for the day recounted the story of the angel coming to Joseph in his dream to assure him that all would be well.

Joseph heard, understood, and responded with courage in receiving Mary with child into his home.

In these past few weeks I have thought about that Gospel in light of all the “noise” surrounding the daily events of the war. I wondered if we felt any more secure or were more enlightened by the “news coverage” and the images of the embedded reporters on our TV screens.

Has the “noise” dulled our ability to dream of a world different from the one we find ourselves in? Has the coverage of war become another reality TV show? Can our children discern the difference between this real war and the new video war games? Can we protect their innocence and sensibilities from this massive attack on our senses?

We live in a world of smart bombs, chemical weapons, weapons of mass destruction and the newly developed “mother of all bombs.” We have experienced the horror of a terrorist attack on our soil, and many of us know someone who died as a result.

Were the announcements about March Madness, the Academy Awards, and the rise of the stock market meant to lull us into believing that things would be OK?

Well, we know that things aren’t OK and no amount of TV coverage will make it so.

We need to find inner peace in this time of great stress. We need to find truth. We need to find God at our center. We won’t find any of these things on television.

After all, we didn’t hear the words of Pope John Paul II in our media: “War is always a defeat for humanity.” We didn’t hear the words from Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. Bishops’ conference: “We worked and prayed and hoped that war would be avoided.” The Catholic Miscellany and other Catholic news services provide us with alternative news for our reflection.

The task now is to work and pray and hope that war’s deadly consequences will be limited … “in time of war, our first obligation is prayer and solidarity …”

We had no way of knowing that there are two convents of Dominican Sisters in Baghdad, both at the end of an army camp. We have no real way of knowing the suffering of people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and many of the surrounding poor countries; those that are not oil rich. We have had no way of knowing how many children have died during the 12-year embargo of Iraq that wasn’t successful in removing a dictator from power.

All this noise and there is still so much that we don’t know.

We are so blessed to be part of the universal Catholic Church … a church without national boundaries, a church that challenges all people, all nations to be just and to seek peace.

Perhaps it is time for silence … the silence that will allow God to be more present to us. Maybe in the silence of prayer, reflection, and the reading of the Gospel we will know more about the world we find ourselves in.

Let us pray for an end to this war, for the men and women who risk their lives in the service of our country and their families, and for the people of Iraq and the United States of America.

Maybe it is time for silence and to listen to what is not being said. May God save us all and bring us peace.

Sister Patricia Keating is a Dominican. She is the liaison for religious for the Diocese of Charleston.




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