Greetings of peace during what is a difficult and anxious time. Earlier today, I sent an email out to all of our various levels of leadership in Pax Christi USA — local group leaders, campus leaders, regional leaders and representatives, National Council members — and I wanted to share with you what I have shared with them.
First, I want you to know that all of us at the Pax Christi USA national office are holding you, your families and your communities in prayer during these days of disruption, uneasiness and uncertainty. We and our families are experiencing the same reality as you, and we stand in solidarity with you and everyone whose lives have been turned upside down, especially our sisters and brothers who are most vulnerable, both physically and economically.
I believe that one of the greatest strengths of Pax Christi USA has always been our commitment to community. Our relationships with each other are what make us strong. We are bound to one another because of our faith in God, our trust that together we are the body of Christ in the world, and that this makes us really and truly “family” to one another. I know that for many of us, Pax Christi USA — and the relationships we have found here — is “church” in the best and deepest way that we understand what it means to be church. We see ourselves as heirs to that original community of disciples and the early church communities of the Acts of the Apostles where recognizing each other as “sister” or “brother” was an expression of just how much these relationships have made us family to each other. I hope these bonds give you strength and courage as we walk together through these trying times.
To help resource you during this crisis, we are pulling together items for prayer, study and action and we’ll share them over the website (we’ll set up a dedicated page by tomorrow), the email network and social media. Please pass them on and share them with whomever you think might draw some measure of peace and fortitude from them. Shortly, we’ll be circulating a new prayer from one of our National Council members, Michelle Sherman, that folks throughout the Pax Christi USA community can pray daily during this crisis with the knowledge that we are speaking the same words and lifting our voices together as one. When we send out our weekly “Pray-Study-Act” e-bulletin for this upcoming week of Lent, Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace Marie Dennis will share a new, original reflection on Sunday’s readings framed by the context of this pandemic. While most of us cannot gather together this Sunday, we hope that Marie’s reflection will help us to focus and meditate together on that intersection between our current moment and our scriptures.
I also want to let you know that the staff at the national office are now working from home mainly. We’ll still be available by email but there may be a lag in returning phone calls left on the office voicemail. If it is an urgent matter and you need to speak to someone, you can call me directly. My cell phone is 352-219-8419. If I don’t pick up immediately, I’ll get back to you as soon as I am free.
I also want to encourage you to keep being the “peace of Christ” in the world as you are able to in your own communities during this time when we’re rightly being asked to limit our contact with others and take up other practices to slow the spread of the coronavirus and allow our hospitals and medical practitioners to prepare to care for those who will need lifesaving measures. Keep in touch with one another over email and by phone, checking in with those you know are most likely to suffer from the experience of isolation. Look for opportunities for digital activism to hold our elected officials, especially at the federal level, responsible for enacting policies and taking steps that will help those who are suffering the most as a result of this crisis. (We’ll find ways you can do this and send them your way through the email network and social media.) And do the things which keep you emotionally and psychologically healthy: prayer and meditation, exercise, yoga, good rest — whatever works for you. Be gentle with yourself and others. And wash those hands (smile)!
Thanks as always for being the peace of Christ in our world. I am so grateful to count you as friends and colleagues and am so appreciative of your support of Pax Christi USA.
Executive Director, Pax Christi USA