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The Pax Christi Icon is off to Brazil.

O Risen Christ,

You breathe your Holy Spirit on us and you tell us: ‘Peace be yours’.

Opening ourselves to your peace -letting it penetrate the harsh and rocky ground of our hearts -means preparing ourselves to be bearers of reconciliation wherever you may place us. But you know that at times we are at a loss. So come and lead us to wait in silence, to let a ray of hope shine forth in our world.

Brother Roger, Taizé

For further information and excellent reading on Icons follow this linkhttp://reinkat.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/what-is-an-icon/

Fifty days before the Olympics 2012, I received this prayer card with the above prayer on the back.  Why do I mention the Olympics? The ancient 9th Century BC Greek tradition of Ekecheiria (“Olympic Truce”), calls for a truce during the Olympic Games to encourage a peaceful environment and ensure safe passage and participation of athletes and relevant persons at the Games.

Pax Christi is an international Catholic movement that promotes peace and they decided to use it over the 100 Days of Peace to promote their cause for peace. The idea of the Pax Christi International Icon comes from the work for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East.

A little background to the paining of Icons: In the Eastern Christian tradition an icon is the visible image of the Divine. The iconographer, who creates the icon, is instrumental in bringing about the spiritual process. The icon is the meeting of heaven and earth.

The Peace Icon is a sacred painting made at the Monastery of St John in the Desert, near Jerusalem, and given to the Pax Christi movement in 1999. Its panels represent scenes of reconciliation and figures associated with peace. Each aspect leads to meditation on the ‘deep movements of the heart necessary for peace and reconciliation’.  As part of a Pax Christi initiative, this Icon travelled to seven parishes in the Diocese of Southwark over the 100 days of Peace, and I am lucky enough to work in close proximity to one of the parishes who played host to the Icon. And what a spectacular Icon it is to see up close! Meditating on the stories chosen for this Icon I found my self ‘warmed’right-through and felt a sense of assuredness in the Bible that promoting Peace is the way to live.

It has two central pictures. At the top Esau and Jacob who are seen embracing and standing on a sword at the time of their reconciliation. (See Genesis: chapters 27,32,33) At the foot of the picture the title of the Icon, “ Christ our Reconciliation” is written in Greek. Latin and Hebrew.

Underneath, the risen Jesus is teaching the Our Father to the disciples in the heavenly Jerusalem. (See Revelation: chapter 21 and Joel: chapter 4:16-17)At the foot of this, the words of the Our Father are written in Aramaic the language which Jesus is thought to have spoken.

 Other pictures show the biblical stories of Sarah and Isaac, Hagar and Ishmael (See Genesis: chapters 16 to 21.), the woman at the well (See John 4: 1-42) and the Syro-Phoenician woman (See Mark: chapter 7: 24-30.).

The saints include: Mary Magdalene (See Luke: chapter 8: 2 and Mark chapter 16:9), St Sophia, St Clare, St Boris and Gleb, St Stephen (See Acts: chapter 7) and St Francis.

(I use this site to read the Bible when workng online: http://biblia.com/books/esv/article/TITLE. Easy to use.)

This Icon of of beauty, was handed over to the Brazilian community at a Mass this past Saturday at St. Georges Cathedral, as their home country begins preparations to host the Rio Olympics in 2016. Brazil. What a beautiful idea to pass on.

Image @http://www.rcsouthwark.co.uk/

Olympic AND PARALYMPIC Games 2012

Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern...

Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, also helped found the USFSA. At various times he served as the federation’s president and secretary general (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Something new I learned today:

The founder of the modern Games was a Jesuit-educated French aristocrat and school reformer, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who saw sport as a means of reviving his country’s prowess after defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. Impressed by his visits to English public schools, which showed, he wrote, how “organized sport can create moral and social strength,” he tried without success to persuade French education to incorporate more sport. That failure led to a new idea: a festival of international athleticism modelled on the competition held every four years in the ancient Greek city of Olympia. Coubertin wanted it to promote the values which he saw in the ancient Games: competition among amateur rather than professional athletes, peace and understanding between nations and the idea of a struggle to overcome our own limitations as being more important than winning. (Quoted from OSV)

Catholicism really does encompass all parts of our personal and social lives as individuals and as communities. I read this article today and was uplifted by this paragraph from the same article: 

But the Church has stressed that this message is as relevant to the Paralympics as the Olympics. Speaking at a Catholic conference dedicated to the theme of disability on July 11, Cristina Gangemi, disability consultant to the bishops of England and Wales, said the Paralympics enact the message of the theology of the body. Pope John Paul, she said, “was always in shape, firmly disciplined and allowed the Spirit to guide him in sport,” while showing in his later life that “there is continuity between health and illness” and “the body must be respected and honored at all stages.” The Ancient Games were a holy event, an opportunity to heal social divisions and repair the fragmentation of society.  

I have been aware of some negativity from bloggers regarding the hype and hero-worship status of the Olympic games and didn’t really understand why. What could possibly be better than having 200+ nations on this earth participating in peaceful ‘combat’ for the sake of sport, national pride and the improvement of self? After reading the above article I understood… I had a light-bulb moment: I looked back on the Olympic games as I was growing up I remember thinking it weird that anyone would possibly want to participate in the Games when disabled or physically challenged. Surely there is no more perfect body than those of Olympic athletes?

The fact it, the body should be respected always. The body encompasses the soul and the Spirit. Not just the outer shell. We are not just our body.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games are about much more than sporting excellence. Underpinning the Games is the philosophy of Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the Modern Olympic Movement.

These Values are:

  • respect – fair play; knowing one’s own limits; and taking care of one’s health and the environment
  • excellence – how to give the best of oneself, on the field of play or in life; taking part; and progressing according to one’s own objectives
  • friendship – how, through sport, to understand each other despite any differences

The Paralympic Values are based on the history of the Paralympic Games and the tradition of fair play and honourable sports competition.

They are:

  • courage
  • determination
  • inspiration
  • equality.
Paralympic Movement flag

Paralympic Movement flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)