The Return of Peace, Theodoor van Thulden
Perhaps I will give up television again. After a three-year fast, I am four days or so into being mesmerised by programmes in which young people and pensioners are filmed cavorting around various holiday resorts, ‘comedies’ about teenage ‘romance’, sombre documentaries about World War One and news reports on the pick’n’mix of wars around the globe.
I am forced back to sentimental songs.
The painting above by Theodoor van Hulden recalls the ancient teaching that justice and peace must be sought together. We note, as well, that the figure of Peace carries the cornucopia, the horn of plenty. In some paintings we see Peace and Abundance together. The painting is an allegory for the hoped-for effects of the Peace of Westphalia ( a.k.a The Peace of Exhaustion) after decades of bloody wars across Europe. Sound familiar?
In our modern world, the question is always – and is most terribly pertinent at this time: Whose justice? Whose peace? I was considering this yesterday, whilst reading a piece about the Middle East which quoted the provisions of international law, jus ad bello and jus in bello. These precepts are derived, as the non-Christian writer acknowledged, from the old teachings of the Catholic Church.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs us as follows:
2304 Respect for and development of human life require peace. Peace is not merely the absence of war, and it is not limited to maintaining a balance of powers between adversaries. Peace cannot be attained on earth without safeguarding the goods of persons, free communication among men, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, and the assiduous practice of fraternity. Peace is “the tranquillity of order.” Peace is the work of justice and the effect of charity.
That’s about all there is to say. I, alone on the Internet, it seems, have no temporal solutions.
And here’s a plug for my favourite website about devout priests in the First World War: Remembering Father William Doyle SJ.