The day of Prayer of Peace in Enugu Diocese
By Chukwu Anthony
To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Assisi declaration (Prayer for Peace) initiated by Pope John Paul II on October 27th, 1986, His Holiness, Pope Francis on Tuesday, 20th September, 2016 presided over an interreligious meeting in Assisi for world Peace and in the same vein, requested the Universal Church to join in the day of prayer.
To that effect, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria participated actively by enjoining their dioceses to partake in this special day. Following the request of the Pope and towards the journey and prayer for Peace and unity, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu held a Mass in union with the Church throughout the world. Present at the fellowship of the Catholic Christian community on peace were the Bishop of the Diocese, Most Rev. Dr. Callistus Onaga with a host other Priests, Religious and of course, the lay-faithful.
This prayer for peace started with a benediction at 11:45am on the 20th of September. Some chapters of the Psalms were prayed alongside the benediction. Lasting for 20minutes, the benediction ended as the Mass began at 12:15pm with a long procession. The Celebrants were on red vestments because of the memorial of the day, St. Andrew and companions, Martyrs of the church.
The chief celebrant, the Bishop, started with an opening reflection on the need for peace. The gospel reading was taken by a deacon, Igwesi Emmanuel precisely, while the homily was taken by Bishop.
In his homily, His Lordship reiterated his earlier statement which centered on the theme of praying for World, Continental, Christian Community, Catholic Fold, State and even societal peace. In the year 1986, Pope John Paul II initiated the prayers of St. Francis of Assissi and Pope Francis decided to celebrate the prayers worldwide this year., we have forgotten that though we are different, we were all created by one creator and this was the reason behind the Pope calling together all the world Religious leaders to discuss how peace and sanity can be brought back to the face of the earth.
Every one of us can feel the impact of this chaos, there is war in most parts of the world, people have lost the meaning of peace, justice and brotherhood. Certain things cause the quagmire amongst men, the killings all around, the injustice perceived everywhere, the hatred and the struggle for power hovering all over. All these and many more others, the Bishop enumerated, dispel peace from among us, from our families, states, country and the world at large. Thus, the Pope requests of us all, to go into prayer, for peace in our lives, peace in our countries and in the universe. Emphasizing on the killings at Oruka village in Enugu State, he asked, if we kill ourselves over land, pride, wealth; to who then shall leave them to? How then do we enjoy them?
There isn’t any gain in creating problems for ourselves all the time, he continued, we only end up creating an unstable society and a community based on chaos, thus without peace. “Here is the time when all the people of God should go into prayer for peace, for through prayer we come to know that Christ Jesus is the pre-condition for peace”.
Bishop Onaga went on to remind the people of the biblical quotation which states that, “Unless the Lord watches over a nation, in vain do the watchmen keep watch”. People fight for power, authority and wealth forgetting that it is God who is the owner and giver of all those things and that one day, every one of us will die. Therefore, Prayer is the key because it is only God that can take charge of the situation.
The Prayer for Peace (also known as the prayer of St. Francis, because he formulated it) was prayed and it goes thus:
Prayer of St Francis…
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness light, where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. Amen
He concluded the homily with few words of admonition that all the faithful should take up their Rosary in prayer for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary in our society, and in the world at large.
After the homily came the prayer of the faithful taken by Rev. Anthony Aneke, a deacon, the response was Oh Lord hear our prayer, “Oh Lord grant us your peace”. The prayer for Nigeria in distress was prayed.
The bishop ended the mass with the admonitions; “take these Prayers to your home, to your place of work, to your businesses, pray them always and try to put them into practice”.
With the final blessing by the Bishop, the mass ended at 1:20pm with a long procession of dismissal.