Peace Tree 2021
Each year as darkness shortens daylight hours, the Sisters of St. Agnes light a Peace Tree at their Motherhouse to display during the Advent and Christmas seasons.
The Peace Tree is a 31-year-old CSA tradition, initiated by Sister Marie Scott, during the Gulf War known as Desert Storm. The war lasted from August 1990 – February 1991. Unfortunately, since that time war has continued almost unabated, often with United States involvement. Our ongoing commitment to peace in our world is needed now as much as ever.
Advent brings us closer to Christ who is with us. We are reminded that no one is beyond the reach of God’s love. We are called to reach out with love to our sisters and brothers in need, sharing our hope for a world transformed.
The Lord comes that we might find him in this world of ours.” - Laudato Si’ #236
As you bring your own symbol of hope and peace, or gaze at the image below, we invite you to pray for peace
Click here to download an Advent calendar with reflective prompts for each day of the season.
We look to you during this time of global climate, human, and health crises; war and violence; and a divided country plagued with deep history of racism and white nationalism. Be with us as we place our anxieties, frustrations, and fears in your hands.
Free us from the illusion of invincibility, so that we might remember our actions effect others, especially the most vulnerable.
Free us from anthropocentric thought, so we refuse to set human dominance or intrinsic value over the rest of Creation.
Free us from the fear of scarcity, which leads to competition, hoarding and waste.
Free us from painful anxiety, so that it can be transformed into caring actions for ourselves and others.
Jesus, our brother,
As your ministry of healing brought physical wellness and connection and restored community, help us remember that we are not alone.
As you mourned the death of your friend Lazarus, be with those who grieve the loss of loved ones. May they feel your presence and peace.
As you experienced death, be with those who have died from the coronavirus and other disease, suicide, homicide, execution, hunger, war, natural and accidental causes. May they be in your eternal embrace.
As you challenged your disciples to act for the common good, be with national and local leaders who have the power to ensure that the “least of these” have their basic needs met. Inspire them to have a global vision of solidarity.
Spirit of God, breath of life,
Thank you for the countless nurses, custodial staff, doctors, receptionists, therapists, healthcare providers, and all others who are working to care for those who are sick and suffering. As they live their vocations, may they be sustained by your Spirit.
Open our eyes to see the devastating implications of economic and racial injustice during this crisis. Be with the vulnerable populations who are unable to have social distance from others, receive proper healthcare to include vaccines, and are more likely to spread and suffer from disease.
We pray for all the men, women, and children who have died after leaving their homelands in search of a better life. We entrust to you all those who have made the journey at great risk in order to reach a place of safety and hope. Especially watch over the unaccompanied women and children traveling in a dangerous world.
Reading: Philippians 4:6-8
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, Sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Blessing of the Tree:
O ever-living and ever-loving God, we praise you for the light of creation:
the sun, the moon, and the stars of night.
We praise you for the light of Israel:
the Law, the prophets, and the wisdom of the Scriptures.
We praise you for Jesus Christ, your Son:
who is Emmanuel, God-with-us, Prince of Peace, Light of the World
who fills us with the wonder of your love.
God who dispels the darkness, let your blessing come upon us as we contemplate this tree.
May the light and cheer it gives be a sign of the joy that fills our hearts. May all who delight in this tree come to the knowledge and joy of salvation. We ask his through Christ our Lord.
CSA's Commitment to Peace and Non-Violence
During the civil war in Nicaragua in the 1990s, three members of the Congregation of St. Agnes were killed. These tragedies, together with the 9-11 terrorist attacks on USA soil, heightened the Sisters’ consciousness of violence both at home and abroad. Instead of retaliation, they expressed their belief in nonviolence and committed to become peacemakers (like Jesus and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.).
The congregation released its Stance on Peace and Non-violence on January 20, 2002 to coincide with the feast of their patroness, St. Agnes, and the national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his commitment to nonviolence. They committed to living the gospel values of love and forgiveness, to be peacemakers, and to promote justice.
In addition to living out these values in their own community and personal relationships, sisters and associates have participated in peaceful demonstrations, vigils, and some in non-violent civil disobedience.
More information on peace and nonviolence can be found at the following websites.
Pax Christi USA — Catholic Peace and Justice Movement
Fellowship of Reconciliation — An interfaith organization
Friends Committee on National Legislation — A Quaker social justice group
Pace e Bene — an independent, non-denominational organization
Washington Peace Center — organizing group for economic and social justice
Peace Pulpit: Bishop Thomas Gumbleton — blogs regularly for the National Catholic Reporter