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On the Road to Peace

Hildegard Goss-Mayr: The greatest living peacemaker

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Who might be the greatest living peacemaker? I acknowledge the question is a bit impertinent. It conjures competition, while by its nature, the word "peacemaker" bespeaks humility, equality, warm humanity. Even so, for the title of greatest I place my money on Hildegard Goss-Mayr of Vienna. If you don't know of Hildegard, I urge you to get the first biography ever written of her, Marked for Life: The Story of Hildegard Goss-Mayr, written by Richard Deats, published by New City Press.


She was born in Austria in 1930, and grew up in an unusual Catholic family dedicated to peace, even while under the Nazi regime. Early on, she studied the philosophy and practice of nonviolence, and with husband, Jean Goss, became an apostle of nonviolence.

The blessings of John O'Donohue

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"As high over the mountains the eagle spreads its wings, may your perspective be larger than the view from the foothills. When the way is flat and dull in times of gray endurance,
may your imagination continue to evoke horizons."


As Barack Obama made his way to Washington D.C. for his inauguration last week, he stopped in Baltimore to greet a crowd of well-wishers. At the event, Maryland's Governor Martin O'Malley offered this blessing. It's from "For One Who Holds Power," (part of the collection To Bless the Space Between Us) by John O'Donohue, the Irish poet, philosopher and spiritual writer, who died a year ago.

The politics of universal love

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While hiking the other day in the high desert of northern New Mexico, I met my neighbor, a Native American elder who gives workshops around the country on Native-American spirituality. When I asked him for his thoughts on President-elect Obama, he said that Obama had already given us a great gift. “He has liberated white Americans from their role as oppressors. Not all have understood this or accepted it,” he said, “but it is a great gift.”

Stop the U.S.-backed war on Gaza!

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The bombing and invasion of Gaza should stop now. It is immoral and impractical; the indiscriminate wounding of children and civilians makes the heart sick. And as is often the case, here is bloodshed and mayhem funded and aided by the United States.


Joining my voice to those of friends around the world, I say: Stop the killings, end the occupation and pursue nonviolent methods of dialogue and cooperation toward a just, peaceful co-existence.

Stop the U.S.-backed war on Gaza!

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The bombing and invasion of Gaza should stop now. It is immoral and impractical; the indiscriminate wounding of children and civilians makes the heart sick. And as is often the case, here is bloodshed and mayhem funded and aided by the United States.


Joining my voice to those of friends around the world, I say: Stop the killings, end the occupation and pursue nonviolent methods of dialogue and cooperation toward a just, peaceful co-existence.

The Global Zero campaign

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One day, the nations of the world will beat their swords into plowshares and study war no more, the holy prophet Isaiah wrote 2,700 years ago. On Dec. 8, hundreds of politicians and leaders from around the world gathered in Paris to launch the Global Zero campaign, a new call for the abolition of nuclear weapons. As a new year of the perilous nuclear epoch begins, I regard the gathering as a rare sign of hope. The campaign is calling for millions to join their movement and sign their petition. I did and hope you will too.

A Christmas prayer for peace

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God of peace, to begin, a trove of gratitude. Thank you for the nonviolent Jesus, his arrival among us, his exemplary life of love -- a love that risked death, a love that raised him again to new life. It was a life, all told, that bespoke peace. He came to us in peace, for peace, as peace. In him we see peace first hand. And my heart brims. For in Jesus, our North Star, you have marked our way in a trackless world. A world of violence and inhumanity, chaos and distress. Because of Jesus, it lies within our grasp to know better now.

The lifelong Advent of Thomas Merton

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I've been reading the new collection, Thomas Merton: A Life in Letters, (Harper One, 2008) a gathering of his “essential” letters, to mark Dec. 10, the 40th anniversary of Merton’s death. On the tenth of this month, I offered the Dharma talk at Upaya Zen Monastery near Santa Fe, New Mexico. As Buddhist teachers do, I began the lecture by invoking one of my teachers, in this case, Merton, the peacemaking monk. I’m astonished that he continues to inspire and challenge me and so many others.

Advent Peace at Jonah House

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Last week after speaking in Baltimore, I spent the night at Jonah House, the long time peace community that embodies the Gospel message of love and nonviolence. They live it out constantly in the form of nonviolent resistance to war and nuclear weapons. It was a blessing beyond measure to share stories with my friends there, to pray through the Advent readings, and to experience again their community of hope and peace. Jonah House remains for me one of the brightest beacons of hope in the country.

Advent: Time to be on the look out

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Advent begins this year in Mark's Gospel with Jesus' command to wake up, stand on guard, be on the look out, and keep watch. It's a strong reminder, perfect for such fearful times as these. As we begin this holy season of preparation, renewal, and prayer, we're urged to awake from the American nightmare, deepen our contemplative roots in Advent nonviolence, reclaim our souls, restart our search for the God of peace, get ready for Jesus and prepare for his Christmas gift of "peace on earth," with all its glorious social, economic and political implications.

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