The Mission of Arnoldus Family in Violent Conflicts

Author: Jurgen Ommerborn
Subject: Mission in violent conflict
Language: English, Spanish
Publisher: Vivatdeus.org
Year: 2022
Love of the Father

THE MISSION OF THE INTERCULTURAL ARNOLDUS FAMILY (SVD, SSpS, SSpSAP and their respective Lay Partners) 

IN VIOLENT CONFLICTS BETWEEN STATES, GROUPS OF PEOPLE/TRIBES OR POLITICAL GROUPS 

 

OUR MISSION

  • SOLIDARITY IN PRAYER WITH SUFFERING PEOPLE

Jesus said: Ask and you will receive, knock and the door will be opened

Believing in the power of prayer and “that every authentic prayer comes from the Holy Spirit” and that “prayer unites profoundly people of the different religions in the world” (John Paul II in Assisi [1986]), the Arnoldus family joins the prayers of the people of any religion in the conflict / war torn countries: 

  • Silent prayers from and in the hearts of people suffering psychologically and physically from the cruelty of war; prayers expressed with words, 
  • prayers in the form of  cries of pain, prayers in the form of tears, prayers in the form of anger with God [ prayer of Job] 
  • prayers begging God for help and protection, 
  • prayers to help the people at war to find ways leading to lasting peace.

 

CONTRIBUTING TO  PEACE 

BUILT ON RECONCILIATION

 

Difficulties on the way to reconciliation

Thinking of all those people living in regions of war or violent conflict who see their children, even babies, their parents and grandparents, their friends and relatives being killed by bombs or shot dead while fleeing or raped or otherwise tortured, it is understandable that traumatized victims of war nurture thoughts of hate and revenge rather than of reconciliation. 

But in the end hate must not have the last word.

  • For hate is a disease which destroys: it destroys the enemy and at the same time it destroys ourselves, as a 98 year old holocaust survivor told young people at the end of his life which had known  unspeakably cruel and unjust suffering at the hands of the Nazis.
  • The deepest reason, however, that hate must not have the last word, is our human identity: All men and women in the world have the same Father and Mother: God. And God is reconciling and life giving love. God’s children’s mission, the mission of the God created “family of humanity” (Giora Feidman) therefore is to be in the service of life and to overcome evil by doing good (Rom 12.21),  even “to forgive the unforgivable” (Gertrud von le Fort). This particular kind of forgiveness is the result of a long process of reconciliation consisting of different stages:

The long and slow way / process to reconciliation 

Our STARTING point is: “All of us must be willing to do our part to contribute towards reconciliation”.

And we do contribute:

  1. “when we disarm our hands, our thoughts and our hearts” 
  2. and so create a climate and atmosphere favorable for achieving justice and peace built on reconciliation.

And that means concretely:

  1. ‘we patiently plant the seeds of love and forgiveness in our own hearts and around us’, 
  2.  ‘we refuse to respond to provocation and violence and we persevere in non-violence in our words and in our thoughts’.
  3. ‘we try to understand the pain of the other side (Pope Francis) and their concerns.’
  4. ‘Slowly we then will grow in love, compassion and the capacity to forgive’. 

The emphasis is on slowly; forgiveness and reconciliation do not happen overnight; they are a slow process. 

This process can be compared with climbing a high mountain, like Mt. Everest.

Love of the Father

The weapons being silent, an armistice having been agreed upon is like having established a base camp at the foot of the mountain. From there the slow climb begins. Unlike climbing Mt. Everest, in the process of reconciliation we cannot forecast how long the process will last. But what we can forecast is: 

The reward of reconciliation – of forgiving the unforgivable is breath taking

The experience of reaching the top of the mountain and coming to the end of this very difficult and slow process of reconciliation will be just breathtaking; in the latter case it will be a new life for the enemy groups involved: a life in peace and something more and very beautiful as the following two examples will show:  

  1. On March 28,  2022, one of the German TV channels showed pictures of a kindergarten in the Ukraine, bombed and destroyed the previous day. In the ruins of her kindergarten stood its directress. And with a tearful voice she spoke these moving words:
    “My only wish is peace and friendship.” This wish fulfilled is like the breathtaking view when reaching Mt. Everest. It is the breathtaking result of the long process of reconciliation and forgiving the unforgivable: PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP!
  2. Good Friday evening, April 15, 2022, Pope Francis together with a huge crowd of people prayed the stations of the cross in the Roman Colosseum. At the 13th station two women were accepting and carrying the cross: Irina from the Ukraine and Albina from Russia. They were colleagues in work in Rome and had become friends. Many Ukrainians had protested against this before the prayer, their argument being it was too early for such a sign; first the weapons had to be silent and the killing had to stop.  But the two women did receive and carry the cross anyway: And the accompanying words were:

“In the face of death, silence says more than words. Let us therefore remain standing in silence and prayer and let us pray in our hearts for the peace in the world.” (Right now there are more than 200 violent conflicts all over the world!)

Like the directress of the destroyed kindergarten so these two women carrying the cross were a PROPHETIC SIGN of what hopefully one day will happen:

THE FORGIVENESS OF THE UNFORGIVABLE 

PEACE

FRIENDSHIP (for some people at least)

 

The Arnoldus Family’s Mission

And what can the  intercultural Arnoldus Family do in this situation? What is our mission?

The short answer is:

Be companions on the journey to and in the climbing of the mountain whose name is

MOUNT RECONCILIATION – MOUNT FORGIVENESS OF THE UNFORGIVABLE! 

Strengthen and recharge the peoples’ determination to reach the top of this mountain by over and over again sharing with them our belief: what is impossible for human beings is possible for those who believe in the God who is Love and Reconciliation (cf. Mk 9:22).

With God everything is possible for God is ALL POWERFUL!

The indispensable part of fulfilling this mission is PRAYER. 

Knowing that peace begins with us individually and believing in the power of prayer, in the first place we should follow the example of the people in the Colosseum: with the people in the war torn countries we should pray in silence in our hearts for peace in the world and particularly in Ukraine ,  – hoping at the same time that in the Ukraine and wherever there are violent conflicts the time of the miracle of reconciled peace through “forgiveness of the unforgivable” won’t be too far off. 

So let us pray for instance that we  become doers of justice, reconciliation:

Lord,

In all the injustice of this world

Make us doers of your justice.

In all the untruthfulness of this world

Make us doers of your truth.

In all the mercilessness of this world

Make us doers of your mercy.

In all the feelings, thoughts and actions of revenge 

Make us doers of your reconciliation

In all the unkindness of this world

Make us doers of your love.

AMEN

 

(unknown author, transl. Jurgen Ommerborn)

—————————————————————–

Jurgen Ommerborn
Jurgen Ommerborn

(sources: Comboni Missionary/Bishop elect Carlassano of Rumbeck in South Sudan, shot at and wounded in his mission, in Dom Radio, March 25, 2022; The Pax Christi Vow of Non-Violence; Decalogue for a spirituality of Non- Violence; a survivor of the holocaust; Pope John Paul II; Pope Francis;  DER DOM, Katholisches Magazin im Erzbistum Paderborn, Nr. 13, 3. April 2022, S. 12 – DER DOM, Catholic Magazine in the Archdiocese of Paderborn[Germany], No 13, 3 April 2022, p.12)

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