By Fiorella Capasso,Fiodanice-Cultures en dialogue
Since 1968, the New Year, on the first day of its first month, opens with an anniversary that calls everyone to make peace: the World Day established by Pope Paul VI with the aim of dedicating New Year’s Day to reflection and prayer for peace.
As far as secular institutions are concerned, it took more than ten years after that for the United Nations General Assembly to establish in 1981 the International Day of Peace, which invites us to celebrate, in a somewhat restrictive way, September 21st of each year as the day of the “ceasefire”.
Yet, the source of inspiration of the invitation of January 1st was not restrictive: to find or rediscover one’s own way of participating in the profound yearning of human beings of all times . This is how, in 1963, Pope John XXIII expressed himself in his Pacem in Terris, considered a sort of spiritual testament left to the Church and to all men and women of good will to whom, for the first time, an encyclical was addressed, believers and non-believers alike. Without controversy or condemnation, the “good Pope” offered a different point of view with respect to peace: proceeding from the deep yearning of human beings of all times, rather than from the classical notion of peace as the absence of war.
Pacem in Terris draws a line from peace to be built in people’s hearts to a new vision of our model of development and action at all levels: “On political, economic and social matters it is not dogma that indicates the practical solutions, but rather dialogue, listening, patience, respect for others, sincerity and also the willingness to review one’s own opinion. After all, Pope John XXIII’s call for peace aimed at directing the international debate according to these virtues .
Later, in the midst of the Cold War, in the Holy Year 1975 dedicated to Renewal and Reconciliation, Paul VI would strengthen the primacy of spiritual guidance in peacebuilding: “Today, too, we are living through a painful and not unique episode of war. We are humiliated and frightened. Is this an incurable disease for humanity? We answer: no! Christ our peace makes the impossible possible… we must strive for a beloved, free, fraternal peace, that is, based on the reconciliation of souls”
This insight into the origins of the World Day of Peace 2020, together with the message of Pope Francis that invites us to live this anniversary as a journey of hope: dialogue, reconciliation and ecological conversion ,comforts us and makes us more aware of the relevance of the charism of justice and reconciliation of our founders : “I wish that the most tender charity and the most intimate cordiality were the rule of all your thoughts and actions”. Every day, starting from the Liturgy, we are invited to exchange a sign of peace and every day offers us opportunities to make peace. This complex time calls us to “respond more urgently to the cry of our wounded world” through unconventional choices: “Peace is built from the chorus of differences. Unity always comes with diversity”.
Let us continue to nurture, in us and for future generations, “the dream of a reconciled world”. Our “mission of reconciliation” (Constitutions, 1) […] requires the awareness that we ourselves need continual conversion. (Constitutions, 4). The courage and audacity of St. John Eudes and St. Mary Euphrasia, their zeal to practice peace according to Jesus Christ, travel through time and push us to challenges (visit the page Challenges of the Strategic Plan by clicking here) that would otherwise be impossible… and they make us “dream this way, shamelessly, brazenly”, as Pope Francis exhorted during a meeting with young people and the elderly. 
As at the time of the founders, “making peace” requires us to grow in our capacity of acknowledgement and reconciliation with one another to turn fears and hostility into empathy and hospitality, as a condition for embracing the world. Today we are walking in line with the Position Papers of the International Justice and Peace Office of the Congregation (visit the page Positions of the Congregation by clicking here) and we put into circulation “strategies of justice and reconciliation for the good of people and for the common good…with gentleness, care, tenderness, dedication, passionate responsibility”.
Let us hope for a beloved peace. Let us bind ourselves, let us connect with each other and outside of us, in the world. Together, let us contrast with synergistic actions the current humanitarian drift. Let us give continuity to the charism and sustainability to the mission. Let us meet, “we are here for this. Let us shake our hand, on the stands of peace,” says the poet.