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Making Real the 100 Days of Peace
09 July 2012

Carmel in the City, London’s Carmelite Spirituality Group, met on Saturday 7th July to reflect on the meaning of the 'Sacred Truce' associated with the Olympic Games, and to ‘Release Peace’. The meeting reflected on the '100 Days of Peace' which began 50 days before the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games and which will close 50 days after the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games. The following summary of the meeting is shared by Sylvia Lucas, the Group's convenor...

A member of the community, Dot Wade, having completed the initial formation programme for Lay Carmelites deepened her commitment to Carmel by making her first Profession in the Carmelite Third Order, during a Mass for Peace and Reconciliation presided at by Fr. Desiderio García Martínez. Father Desiderio (Desi) is a Carmelite friar from Spain who is spending a year at Aylesford Priory to assist in forming the novices there.

Dot Wade (centre) with Fr. Desi and Sylvia Lucas.

Dot with Fr. Desi and Angela Bergström-Allen, who first introduced Dot to the Carmelites. Behind them in the beautiful icon of Mary as 'Our Lady of the City'.

Father Desi spoke about the example of a priest in Rwanda during that country's genocide whose devotion to the Eucharist taught the people that by receiving the Body of Christ they were enabled to be Jesus to others, especially strangers and those who might think they are our enemies. Father Desi said that we, too, must become like Jesus for others in our world if there is to be peace. We must make peace a reality and be able to look into people’s faces and eyes and see friends not enemies. This, he said, is the vocation of a Lay Carmelite: not to strive to be a 'mini friar or nun', but to be such a person in the world as a lay person.

At the end of Mass people were encouraged to look at a map of the world, identify the places they come from, and add a sticker to those already put there by members of St. Joseph’s Parish where the Spirituality Group meets. The map will stay in the church for the period of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to remind the community of the many countries from which London's residents come and those who will be visiting the City.

Participants identifying places on the world map.

Parishioners of St. Joseph's Church who joined the Carmelites for reflection.

Those attending the meeting were also invited to take a paper dove and write on it anonymously a prayer for peace. These were taken by each person at the end of the afternoon, to be prayed for throughout the duration of the '100 Days'.

After a shared lunch each person was invited to say their name and country or region of origin, and one memory about that place which gives a sense or thought of peace. The countries of origin of those taking part included the Philippines, Malaysia, Guyana, Madeira, Spain, France, Germany and Ireland as well as all areas of England, Scotland and Wales.

Fr. Desi enjoying lunch with group members.

Participants shared memories of the peace of gardens, green spaces in London, music, mountains, mist, sunshine, the sea, rice fields and love of family and friends, including growing up in a Moslem family where Allah (God) was at the centre.

Sharing faith and friendship over food.

Sebastien Chapleau, who has been a Community Organiser for London Citizens and very involved with the 'City Safe' campaign, recalled his childhood in inner-city Paris on a troubled estate. That experience, and his grandparents' memories of the Second World War, has led to him make a commitment to work for peace by building relationships between people in city neighbourhoods and those of different faiths.

Sebastien is now working as a teacher in London and has helped schools and colleges develop ways of celebrating the '100 Days of Peace' which derived from the ancient tradition of keeping the 'Sacred Truce' that enabled athletes to participate in the ancient games in safety. This tradition has been further developed for the London Olympic Games by London Citizens with the encouragement of Barry and Margaret Mizen, the parents of murdered school-boy Jimmie Mizen.

Some membes of 'Carmel in the City' who live in the Shoreditch area are already involved in the City Safe campaign to make our streets safer places and to set up City Safe Havens where young people who feel at risk of violence can be safe. Others were interested in taking the campaign into their own areas and it is already spreading across the country to other towns and cities, particularly where there were civil disturbances last August.

The day ended with Lectio Divina, a time of reflection and silence using the Gospel from the Mass. The next meeting will be on 4th August when we will meet at The Friends’ Meeting House on Euston Road at 11am for a Peace Walk to the Imperial War Museum, visiting places along the way which commemorate peace heroes.

St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Bunhill Row offers a haven of peace
all year round; its garden, dedicated in memory of Cardinal Basil Hume,
is visited by workers from the local area seeking a quiet space.