Monday, October 29, 2012


The Prayer for Peace below was written by Thomas Merton, read in the House of Representatives by Congressman Frank Kowalski [D-Conn.] on April 18, 1962 the Wednesday in Holy Week, and placed in the Congressional Record.  It may have helped some form consciences for the Cuban Missile Crisis six months later.  A long prayer--to counter Congress’ short experience of peacemaking.  Half appears today, and the rest next week.

This week we commemorate 50 years of surviving that nuclear weapons crisis ending October 28th —by the grace of God, and a dash of political courage.  As we contemplate our new-found perpetual enemy of War on Terrorism, and the current political elections climate that multiplies division and negativity, let us turn back to this prayer.  May we not blow ourselves and everyone else up, nor squander our wealth, fighting for freedom and righteousness.  God gives us these when we follow the Gospel of the Servant King. 

Prayer for Peace
Almighty and merciful God, Father of all people, Creator and ruler of the universe,
Lord of all history, whose designs are without blemish, whose compassion for
the errors of humankind is inexhaustible, in your will is our peace.

Mercifully hear this prayer which rises to you from the tumult and desperation
of a world in which you are forgotten, in which your name is not invoked,
your laws are derided and your presence is ignored. Because we do not
know you, we have no peace.

From the heart of an eternal silence, you have watched the rise of empires
and have seen the smoke of their downfall. You have seen Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Greece and Rome, once powerful, carried away like sand in the wind.  You have witnessed the impious
fury of ten thousand fratricidal wars, in which great powers have torn whole
continents to shreds in the name of peace and justice.

And now our nation itself stands in imminent danger of a war the like of which has never been seen.  This nation dedicated to freedom, not to power, has obtained, through freedom, a power it did not desire, and seeking by that power to defend its freedom, it is enslaved by the processes and policies of power.  Must we wage a war we do not desire, a war that can do us no good, and which our very hatred of war forces us to prepare?

A day of ominous decision has now dawned on this free nation.  Armed with a titanic weapon, and convinced of our own right, we face a powerful adversary, armed with the same weapon, equally convinced that he is right.  In this moment of destiny, this moment we never foresaw, we cannot afford to fail.

Our choice of peace or war may decide our judgment and publish it in an eternal record.  In this fatal moment of choice in which we might begin the patient architecture of peace, we may also take the last step across the rim of chaos.
Save us then from our obsessions!         [To be continued ]

Thomas Merton--photo by Sybille Akers
Above link on Merton in first paragraph is for PBS documentary on Merton--'Soul Searching'
Another link on the Cuban Missile Crisis from Harvard University--

No comments:

Post a Comment