Our prayers at work

Did anybody else notice that secretary of state John Kerry’s “slip of the tongue” suggestion that Syria give up its chemical weapons took place on the Monday after Pope Francis’ prayer vigil for peace? After a week of negotiations, the U.S. and Russia reached an agreement on Saturday to remove and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons. Suddenly, we have gone from gearing up for an escalation to potentially capping the scope of the conflict in Syria.

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Mary, Queen of Peace

I don’t believe that it was a coincidence. Led by the pope, millions of people asked for the intercession of Mary, Queen of Peace, and there appeared to be an answer. Any believer in the power of prayer would acknowledge the likelihood that Kerry did not accidentally think of a solution on his own. He has a lot of people praying for him to make the right decisions, and

Though this agreement is good news, let’s not be naive. It still has to be implemented. The Obama administration still has military action on the table. The war in Syria still rages on. Other conflicts, such as those in Afghanistan, Egypt, Israel, Iraq, Palestine and the Philippines, still plague God’s people.

We need to keep praying.

Six months of Pope Francis has shown that the Catholic Church is truly led by a man of God. This was a palpable reminder. Let us continue to follow his lead in praying for a resolution to this conflict and all wars around the world.

On the occasion of Syria: Timeline of a peacenik

I am a senior in high school. I am eating mozzarella sticks in the cafeteria. A fellow student sits down across from me. He wants to talk about an anti-war poem he found in our English textbook. He is a pacifist.

I stonewall him. I do not like this fellow student because he is scruffy. He smokes. He takes art classes. He is an atheist. He sleeps with his girlfriend. I identify all this with weakness. Therefore pacifism is weakness, and so I am not a pacifist, Q.E.D.

I am a college freshman and it is September 11, 2001. The World Trade Center disappears, and the world metamorphoses, on a cloudless sapphire Tuesday morning. I walk across my silent, mostly deserted university campus to Latin class. I wince when a military jet roars over my head. It is the only thing interrupting the no-fly zone above the Chicago lakefront.

It is September 14, 2001, the feast of the Holy Cross. I attend Mass celebrated by a Jesuit. He says governments have a right to defend their people from threats like Al Qaeda. But individual Christians should aspire to be as defenseless as Jesus was, even to the point of crucifixion.

Complexity hacks its way into my thinking. Suddenly I can break patriotism and Christianity apart. I can analyze and compare them. I can pit God against Caesar and not assume they work together. Yet my new talent lies dormant for a while.

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