By Petra Alexander
We dedicate the traditional Day of the Dead offering in our Diocesan Pastoral Center to the 'Builders of Peace.' Fortunately, there are men and women who have earned blessings through their work in building peace.
Although in the graves of the deceased, names and dates are accompanied by the abbreviation RIP, which means 'Rest in Peace,' peace is not the silence and tranquility of cemeteries. Peace has to do with life, harmony, justice, fullness, and happiness. Jesus called 'Blessed' those who are capable of contributing elements of peace to the lives of others and to social peace. That's why current conflicts alert us because we know the fragility of peace. Why, if we desire peace, do we not safeguard it? Peace has weakened due to the accumulation of many small and large conflicts: polarizations, abuse of power, racism, violence, and hatred. Now our news is filled with explosions and cries, brutality and tears, dead children, and hostages. We would like to understand the reasons for this breakdown of peace, and the reasons are complicated because they have their roots in history, in land as property or acquisition, in ethnicity, and religion. If global warming was already threatening peace in the world, wars accelerate ecological disasters.
Resting in Peace is the last wish that overwhelms us when we say goodbye to a loved one who dies. To rest in peace, we must build peace while we live. The lives of the Builders of Peace have not been easy; it has demanded fidelity to their values. It has taken them time and energy in their causes. The Builders of Peace have sustained themselves in respect and dialogue against all hope.
We want our offering, beyond a remembrance of those who have already passed away, to present us with models to emulate in the enormous task that challenges us. Let us pray for peace, starting by declaring an amnesty for our small or large personal enemies. Let us investigate the history of conflicts, advocate for victims, and build the piece of peace that corresponds to us.
Petra Alexander is the Director of Hispanic Affairs for the Diocese of San Bernardino.