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Our Lady of Peace, Please Pray for Us

September 7, AD2013

Lately, I feel like I’m living in Middle Earth; J.R.R. Tolkien’s mythical world where death and destruction abound. For anyone who has read Tolkien’s trilogy (The Hobbit, The Twin Towers, and The Return of the King), or at the very least watched Peter Jackson’s film adaptations, you can appreciate this reference. Our world today appears to be a bastion of Gollums and Sarumons and Ocres…..oh, my! All motivated by the Dark Lord and Necromancer, Sauron. Meanwhile, the age of man is in desperate need of an emancipator.

Although countless analogies have been drawn between Tolkien’s work and the Catholic Church, or Christianity in general (e.g., Dr. Peter Kreeft), much of what Tolkien found distressing in his world in 1930 is still just as relevant today. In fact, Tolkien’s theme of moral authority in his books was inspired by his service in the British army during WWI. (1914 – 1918) He witnessed lethal chemical weapons used in that war, killing many of his friends and comrades.

To date, the turmoil in Syria has heightened the world’s anxiety. All eyes are on United States’ President, Barack Obama, as he champions support for a military strike against the Syrian government as justifiable punishment for Syria’s use of chemical weapons in their civil war. Although hard evidence has not be verified, Obama feels it is the duty of the American government, or the United Nations, to hold Syria accountable for presumably violating the chemical weapons ban. The 1929 Geneva protocol first prohibited the use of poisonous gas as a weapon of war. Then in 1993 the Chemical Weapons Convention went a little further and outlawed the production, stockpile, transfer, and use of chemical weapons. Countries that ratified the treaty pledged to destroy their existing stockpiles. Not surprising, not every country signed that treaty including North Korea, Egypt, Angola and…yes, you guessed it…Syria.

Aside from any obvious, or ulterior, motives for launching a military strike against Syria, military action should never be a knee-jerk response, or entered into without prayerful guidance. If military action were the preferred choice of God, He never would have armed Moses with nothing more than a big stick and sent him back into Egypt to free the Jews. Instead, God would have instructed Moses to amass an army and return in revengeful fury. Based upon good counsel with his Heavenly Father, and armed with the power of God, Moses walked back into Egypt and simply negotiated the Jews’ release. Of course, he had a little Divine assistance.

Don’t we possess that same Divine assistance today….if we will only seek His counsel?

Every good leader who has been genuinely concerned for the welfare of mankind has sought good counsel before taking action. Consider Abraham Lincoln. Now there’s an American President that was not ashamed to profess that he sought God’s counsel before every decision he made. Humanity can only hope that President Obama, and other nations’ leaders, are seeking the same resolution before acting. In reference to Tolkien, personally, I hope and pray that Obama doesn’t have a Wormtongue whispering in his ear, manipulating the outcome for the destruction of mankind.

In an effort to offer President Obama good counsel, the Syrian-born leader of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Patriarch Gregorios III Laham, has called on the United States, and other countries, to avoid military action. In an interview with the Catholic New Agency, the Patriarch said, “The tragic situation that Syria has been experiencing for the last two and a half years is the strongest evidence of the primary importance of seeking the earliest possible peaceful, diplomatic resolution of the crisis.” He further emphasized that global involvement has only caused the conflict to escalate.

Likewise, Pope Francis has asked the leaders of all nations to embrace efforts for peace first and foremost. In response to the world’s distress in this matter, Pope Francis has called for a Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace in Syria, the Middle East and the world on September 7, 2013, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace. Pope Francis reiterated in this request, …”peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected”…..”all men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace.”

Could our Blessed Mother, Mary, the Queen of Peace, truly aid us in this time of need?

It is interesting to note that while J.R.R. Tolkien was serving in the Great War, half way around the world in a little village in Fatima, Portugal, three children were communing with the Queen of Peace that Pope Francis asks us to seek now.

On May 13, 1917, Our Lady appeared to three children in a place called Cova da Iria. It was noon, and Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco were shepherding their sheep. Suddenly lightening flashed across the sky, so the children ran for cover thinking it was going to rain. In their haste, they stopped and saw a beautiful lady made of light hovering above an oak tree, holding a rosary in her hands. She asked the children to pray and make sacrifices for sinners. Our Lady asked them to come to the same place and meet with her on the thirteenth day of the next five consecutive months, which they did. While these precious children prayed the rosary every day and met with Our Lady once a month, the world around them was in chaos. Our Lady told the children that WWI would end (1918), but “if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI.” Obviously, mankind didn’t pray hard enough, because the second world war broke out just as Our Lady proclaimed. This was only the first of many messages that Our Lady would deliver to the children; messages that would eventual hold true. (TimeLine)

It has always appealed to me that in Tolkien’s novels it is merely an unassuming hobbit that is able to reverse the fate of man. In our world, God has always chosen the humblest among us as our guides. Throughout history, it is the selfless, the often uneducated that God solicits through Our Lady of Peace. The messages they deliver to us, through God, clearly shows us a more Divine path to peace in this world; Marie Bernarde Soubirous (St. Bernadette), Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu (Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta), Zoe Labouré (St. Catherine Labouré) the three children of Fatima (Lucia, Jancita and Francisco).

Like all the conflicts that preceded us, humanity now stands upon a threshold. Which direction will we choose in this dilemma? If the first and only response that our leaders will embrace is military action, such recourse will surely ignite a deadly war that will draw more conflict beyond Syria’s borders.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis recognizes and reminds us that Our Lady is waiting patiently to help us, if only we will seek her intervention. Her prayers before the Father on behalf of humanity and our world have always been good and fruitful counsel. Our prayers to Our Heavenly Father through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, have always been heard. He wants to see peace on earth. But we have to be willing to ask for His help, for His forgiveness, and His mercy.

“Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and He brought them to their desired haven.” – Psalm 107:28-30

Our Lady of Peace, please pray for us. Amen.

© 2013. Diane McKelva. All Rights Reserved.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Recognized as the former Editor in Chief, Diane McKelva is now the Editor Emeritus of Catholic Stand. You can learn more about Diane and her work here.

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  • Robbe Sebesta

    “Every good leader who has been genuinely concerned for the welfare of mankind has sought good counsel before taking action.”

    Very good article and how timely with our present day administration. I re-posted the above quote because Obama is simply not genuinely concerned for the welfare of mankind, nor do I believe he would ever seek “good counsel” before taking any kind of action regarding our nation. Ergo, he’s not a good leader. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but just wanted to concur basically on how narcissism can only get a person so far before he begins to crumble.

  • nannon31

    I don’t know the answer in Syria but the Old Testament has God ordering a number of real wars so I’d urge you not to reduce the complexity of the OT on war to Moses and his staff. God wanted the Chaldeans to war against the Moabites and Jeremiah warns the Chaldeans that they better not shrink from the job in Jer.48:10 “Accursed is the one who is slack in doing the work of the Lord; and accursed is the one who keeps back the sword from bloodshed.”
    At the end of 2 Kings 13, the prophet Eliseus (Elisha) is dying and he enjoins (with a Divine sign) King Joash to conquer Aram which was habitually attacking Israel and had taken some of her cities.
    The dooms of the Amorites whereby God had Israel massacre many are separate from ordinary war and were only done after God had given the Amorites 400 years to repent ( see Wisdom 12 and Gen.15:16)…. they did not…and only then did God order the dooms.
    The Pope is right to long for peace; he is incorrect to say that war never brings peace. The Nazi domination of Europe ended only because men gave their lives. War prevented the Japanese from enslaving China which was their goal in the 1940’s. Men gave their lives and women gave their men to stop that slavery from happening and it worked.

    • Diane McKelva

      Thank you for your response, nannon31.

      You are correct. Scripture holds many events other than Moses where God prompted war in response to man’s inhumanity toward his fellow man, or man’s lack of follow God’s laws. I used the story of Moses to make a brief point about God’s desire for negotiations versus war. Although not in all cases, more often the conflict was preempted by God giving man a chance to redeem himself.

      Regarding Pope Francis’ statements – – – what he actually said was, “Violence never brings peace: war brings war, violence leads to more violence.” I don’t presume to be a translator for the Holy Father, but I will say that he is correct. If we attack Syria, Russia will attack us, Iran will attack Israel… attack leads to another. When does it end? Using an “eye for an eye” approach merely leaves the world blind.

      Read article here:

      The first World War in Europe actually set the stage for WWII. WWI left Germany economically and politically unstable. Thus entered Adolf Hitler and his organized National Socialist Party (aka Nazi Party). The Germany people, not all of them, saw Hitler as a visionary, and someone who could pull them out of financial and political deficits. However, Hitler’s desire for world dominance, and his sick “Final Solution,” is what prompted this global war.

      In response to your statements about WWII, and the necessity for war – – – – -full disclosure here. My father served in WWII at Normandy and freed a concentration camp, and my uncles fought in the Pacific. I respect and appreciate your passion for the men and women who served for bring us freedom and freedom for others as well. Their selfless sacrifices were not in vain.

      No question, war was necessary in that situation. However, all the red flags of what Hitler was doing, and going to do were ignored. Even when Jews were being targeting and exterminated, no one wanted to believe the truth. The United States was a latecomer to the defeat of Hitler. There have been countless books and essays written about how the outcome might have differed, if the world had been more aware. Have you read Erik Larson’s, In the Garden of Beasts? Here’s a link: This book gives you a clear appreciation for how out of touch the US was at the time. ” William E. Dodd, a mild-mannered history professor from Chicago who, much to his surprise and everyone else’s, was chosen by Roosevelt to be America’s first ambassador to Nazi Germany….” Dodd was more interested in returning to the US than serving as Ambassador. His daughter was more interested in her sexual encounters in the Third Reich than in what these men were actually doing. The Dodd family were there representing the US and they were completely out of touch with reality.

      Regarding the necessity of war, you might find this article from American Catholic interesting reading: When is War Justified?
      It outlines when war is justified after considering all options and evaluating the conditions.

      Like you, I don’t presume to have an answer to the Syrian conflict. But I will say this. The conditions in Syria are much different from WWII. In that war we could identify the enemy. We knew who we were trying to remove and why. With Syria, our target is a little more complex and confusing. That’s even more reason to seek God’s counsel before acting.

      Peace be with you, nannon31, I hope you will continue to give us your feedback. It’s always welcome.

    • nannon31

      The Vatican website translates the Pope from Sep.1…” Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence.” That is a general statement not simply a remark on Syria or the ending of WWI…and it is incorrect in light of scripture, God’s choices in scripture, and in light of WWII’s ending. Popes are not pan infallible. We constantly imply they are. That will and does dissuade some very intelligent people from taking Catholicism seriously.

    • Howard

      The metaphor of “a wake of war” is not the end of a war. It is the increased destruction that occurs as war escalates. This speech was a call to do something other than escalate in trying to save face over drawing a nonsensical red line.

    • Diane McKelva

      Thank you for clarifying.

      It is the Pope’s responsibility to promote peace. He is a man of God. Jesus tells us — ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “And a second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” ( Matthew 22:37-40) The Pope is following that law and asking us to do the same.

      Jesus also said when he gave us the Beatitudes….. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. ” (Matthew 5:9) Again, the Pope is obedient to God, through His Son, Jesus Christ. He seeks to be a peacemaker.

      Consider this….If the Pope is a man of God and is trying to shepherd God’s children, would not his declaration of war be contradictory to Christ’s teachings? The Church takes the position that peace should be promoted first and foremost. However, the Church also recognizes, and make provisions for circumstances when war may be necessary for man to protect himself from evil.

      Again, here is a link to an explanation of the Church’s teaching in justifiable war, (Just War Doctrine).
      The Catholic Church promotes peace. They are not opposed to a “just war.” WWI and WWII were just wars.
      As for the Pope’s infallibility, please note this means that the pope is protected from error when he “proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals” (CCC 891). His infallibility should not be confused with meaning that he is impeccable (incapable of sin) or inerrant (incapable of error). People often confuse this issue.

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  • Diane McKelva

    Thank you, Jeff, for your kind compliment. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. I assure you, it was the Holy Spirit dictating to me. 😉 I have a passion for history and my faith – – – and an ardent desire to use both to inspire others. Peace be with you. Diane

  • Jeff_McLeod

    This is wonderful. I love your sense of history, and the parallels to the early 20th century are undeniable. Utterly undeniable. Every word of yours is inspired.

    Just a few months ago, Catholics were put on the defensive by the government’s encroachment on religious conscience. Today the tables are turned. The Blessed Mother confronts the conscience of this government. As they used to say in the 1960s: the whole world is watching.

    Pray for us, Blessed Mother!