Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Christ is in our midst!
"Blessed are the peacemakers for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
The pursuit of peace is a major tenant of our Faith. This means peace within and peace without. Peace is in the heart and mind for our neighbors. We pray for it in every service because we are commanded by God to "seek peace and pursue it." St. Seraphim's famous advice that makes peace in our own hearts will bring thousands around us to salvation seems to encompass the whole of the Orthodox spiritual life.
In this time of tragic war and the growing threat of even more conflict we need to bear witness to the Gospel of Peace with our actions and our words. Peace is not a partisan issue. For us it has nothing to do with politics or parties. Our Lord is rightly called "the Prince of Peace." Our witness for peace has everything to do with our deep reverence for Him, His commandment to love even our enemies, and our position vis a vis the sanctity of life itself.
The pursuit of peace is risky business, but the alternative is hideous. Violence breeds more violence, hatred more hatred. Have we learned nothing from history? aggression is what men turn to when they have lost all reason. Peace is hard work and it demands more sustained effort than aggression if, for no other reason, than dialogue calls for a great deal more creativity than bombs, but the fruit of peace is more than worth the price.
A major concert for peace was held recently in the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. Religious leaders from many faiths, including Orthodoxy, were there to present a unified voice for the cause of peace. Metropolitan PHILIP has often spoken plainly of his opposition to the war in Iraq. It is time for us to do so without fear. I say it is way past time. Religion, at its best, is the conscience of society calling everyone to higher and better purposes.
I hope that all of you will join me in praying and working for an end to the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur, Palestine, and Burma, and that the threat of war in other places does not take root and grow.
Yours in Christ,