‘Blessed are the peacemakers’


A stack of passports sat atop a security officer’s desk in the crowded reception room where visitors waited for an audience with the Dalai Lama at his temple in the Himalayan foothills of northern India. After 60 years in exile, the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of the Tibetan Buddhists, continues to draw people from around the world, inspired by his example in cultivating inner peace and world peace.

The spiritual leader of the Diocese of Davenport, Bishop Thomas Zinkula, was among those whose passports sat atop the security officer’s desk that morning. Kudos to the Pacem in Terris Coalition of the Quad Cities, on whose behalf Bishop Zinkula readily traveled halfway around the world to present the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award to the Dalai Lama. That journey sent a message that the faithful in eastern Iowa and western Illinois join in solidarity to foster peace at home and abroad.

Four years after the Dalai Lama fled for his life from his beloved homeland, Pope John XXIII released his preeminent encyclical “Pacem in Terris” (Peace on Earth), which motivated creation of the award. In his encyclical, now-St. John XXIII wrote, “The world will never be the dwelling place of peace, till peace has found a home in the heart of each and every man, till every man preserves in himself the order ordained by God to be preserved” (#165).

During his 10-minute audience with Bishop Zinkula, the Dalai Lama said, “Today’s world really needs (the) peace message.” Tensions between India and Pakistan underscored that message. The plane in which the bishop flew home had to be diverted from flying over Pakistan’s air space. The brief audience didn’t allow time for the bishop to discuss the crisis between Pakistan and India, but the Dalai Lama’s words and actions serve as a blueprint for nurturing peace in our hearts and in the world.


Nurturing requires time, patience and practice, great skills to undertake this Lenten season in the following ways:

• Prayer and meditation. The Catholic Church offers a plethora of prayer practices and meditation, such as: Scripture reading and reflection (Lectio Divina), the Liturgy of the Hours, the rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, eucharistic adoration, extemporaneous prayer, the Daily Examen.

• Listening. Give full attention to the person who is talking. Don’t be thinking ahead about how to respond or rebut. The Dalai Lama and Bishop Zinkula made eye contact and sustained it. Each took away the other’s message. The Dalai Lama expressed appreciation when the bishop shared the interfaith composition of the Pacem in Terris Coalition.

• Patience. This skill can be practiced in our interactions with others, especially in our willingness to try to understand what the other person is going through. The Dalai Lama takes patience to even higher heights. He visualizes his enemies deliberately trying to make his life miserable to help him cultivate patience in adversity. (“The Wisdom of Compassion,” His Holiness the Dalia Lama and Victor Chan)

• Education. The Dalai Lama believes that it is essential for children to learn “the indispensability of inner values such as love, compassion, justice and forgiveness” as part of their school’s curriculum. Education helps to nurture and sustain compassion. (“The Wisdom of Compassion”)

For adults, that education can include attending peace-oriented events in our diocese. On March 21, St. Ambrose University in Davenport will present the Wilber Symposium at 7 p.m. in the Rogalski Center. Professor Duk Kim will address the successes and failures of peace-keeping efforts. The Pacem in Terris Coalition will present a local celebration of the Dalai Lama as recipient of the 2019 Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award on April 9 at 7 p.m. in the Rogalski Center. Also check the calendar in The Catholic Messenger for additional peace-related programs and events.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches his disciples the nine Beatitudes, one of which states: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Bishop Zinkula handed over his passport in a crowded reception room 7,200 miles from home to demonstrate his commitment to being a link among the peacemakers. How will the rest of us respond as Jesus’ disciples today?

Barb Arland-Fye, Editor

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