December, 2016

On the Road to Peace


Dear friends, Advent Peace be with you!


Wow, do we need Advent! I invite everyone to use this holy season wisely as a time of peace, hope, repentance and preparation for the coming of the nonviolent Jesus all over again in our hearts, our lives, and our poor world.


We have only a short period of time to get ready spiritually for the Trump Administration and all the injustice, racism, greed and war it promises.


My Advent began with a beautiful day long retreat with my friend Fr. Richard Rohr. He offered reflections on the Trinity, the love of God, and its implications for us. It was helpful to hear a sane, peaceful, wise priest point us back to God and invite us to focus our lives on the God of peace once and for all.


In mid-December, I will be in Amsterdam, meeting with my friend Jim Forest who is writing a book on our friend Daniel Berrigan. I’m off to help him, answer questions, and support his writing.


Then, I go to the Vatican for two days of meetings, along with my friends Ken Butigan, Marie Dennis and others. We will be encouraging Vatican officials to write a new encyclical on Gospel nonviolence, as a follow up to our April conference. We hope to meet with Pope Francis, but we won’t know until that day if the meeting will happen.


While we are in Rome, Pope Francis will release his annual January 1st “World Day of Peace” message. I was asked to submit a draft text for the Pope last April. Ken, Marie and others did another draft in September. We don’t know what it will say, but we are excited. It will be the first official Church document on nonviolence in history. Please stay on the lookout for it!


Ken and I are working hard with our colleagues at Pace e Bene to prepare for Campaign Nonviolence in the upcoming year. We hope to organize over a thousand demonstrations in September; help organize “Nonviolent Cities;” organize hundreds of nonviolence trainings; and give talks and write on nonviolence throughout the year to help build the grassroots movement of nonviolence.


The best response to the Trump Administration’s greed, wars, violence, and racism is daily prayer, regular fasting, community building, movement building, full-on nonviolence, and steadfast resistance to every facet of systemic violence. Now more than ever, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus, and do what the Gospel calls us to do.


Our all lives have led us to this time. We are being called to follow the nonviolent Jesus, resist the culture of violence and death, say our prayers, love one another, and proclaim God’s reign of peace and nonviolence here and now. This is the most important work to be done in these times. This, to me, is what discipleship to Jesus looks like these days.


Thank you for all you do for justice, nonviolence and peace. I hope and pray that you too find Advent a time of strengthening, mindfulness, hope and peace, that together we can focus on the nonviolent Jesus, prepare anew to do his will, and join his campaign of Gospel nonviolence with renewed vigor.


May the God of peace bless us all with the gift of peace on earth.

A blessed advent and a happy Christmas!


–Fr. John