Dear members of the Prep community and Dear friends of Prep,
I want to offer a few reflections which may help center us on the celebration of Christmas, as our world has been marred by the violence in a school in Connecticut – in the midst of ongoing violence throughout our world.
The following link is to a reflection on Creighton University’s Online Ministries site, which I serve as one of my duties at the university. It is a reflection on the shootings, in light of these days of Christmas. It can help us rely upon the real meaning of Christmas. I offer it as a help for our reflection these days.
A second reflection I offer is from this year’s New Year’s message of Pope Benedict XVI. Each year the Holy Father issues a message for January 1st, as a World Day of Prayer for Peace. This year’s message is especially helpful for our reflection, as we prepare for the new year. Benedict articulates extremely well the urgency of building a just society, based upon the common good of all, as humanity’s common mission.
I highlight a paragraph from the end of his message, which seems to be addressed to our Mission at Prep. After saying that schools must form a “new generations of leaders,” he spells out a “Pedagogy for Peacemakers.” It is very affirming of what we are trying to do at Prep, and a challenge for our future.
“A pedagogy for peacemakers
In the end, we see clearly the need to propose and promote a pedagogy of peace. This calls for a rich interior life, clear and valid moral points of reference, and appropriate attitudes and lifestyles. Acts of peacemaking converge for the achievement of the common good; they create interest in peace and cultivate peace. Thoughts, words and gestures of peace create a mentality and a culture of peace, and a respectful, honest and cordial atmosphere. There is a need, then, to teach people to love one another, to cultivate peace and to live with good will rather than mere tolerance. A fundamental encouragement to this is “to say no to revenge, to recognize injustices, to accept apologies without looking for them, and finally, to forgive”, in such a way that mistakes and offences can be acknowledged in truth, so as to move forward together towards reconciliation. This requires the growth of a pedagogy of pardon. Evil is in fact overcome by good, and justice is to be sought in imitating God the Father who loves all his children (cf. Mt 5:21-48). This is a slow process, for it presupposes a spiritual evolution, an education in lofty values, a new vision of human history. There is a need to renounce that false peace promised by the idols of this world along with the dangers which accompany it, that false peace which dulls consciences, which leads to self-absorption, to a withered existence lived in indifference. The pedagogy of peace, on the other hand, implies activity, compassion, solidarity, courage and perseverance. “
At this Christmas time, and in this new year, may we all seek to imitate our God in loving one another, as children of the same God. May we cultivate a culture of peace and respect – as well as a “pedagogy of pardon” – in our hearts, our families, and in the students and families we serve. May we encounter the child in the stable, who is God with us, in our poverty.
Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!
Andy Alexander, S.J.