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Pax Christi

Pax Christi by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM

Artist Narrative:

Religions inspire humankind in its pursuit of illusive ideals. They do this by providing systems of myths and symbols. These myths and symbols are poetic and are not usually meant to be taken literally. They beckon cultures forward to higher moral accomplishments and challenge individuals to greater personal growth.

Peace has been an illusive ideal for most of human history. Christians and Jews find inspiration in their pursuit of this ideal in the imagery surrounding their promised messiah. Throughout their sacred scriptures, the coming of the messiah is described in terms of a reign of peace. Perhaps the most beautiful description is in the prophecies of Isaiah 11, where the messiah is a tiny child surrounded by traditional enemies who now live together in peace. The child messiah plays over the viper’s den, and none of the animals do harm to one another.

This icon depicts the vision of Isaiah. A peaceful Christ child stands above a coiled rattlesnake. Both are surrounded by mandalas of light, to emphasize that the snake too, is holy -- that being powerfully dangerous does not make it evil. The child is comfortable in his nakedness, inviting humankind to make peace with our own bodies. Shame leads to violence, and countless millions feel shame towards their very selves. A rainbow surrounds the mandala of the Christ, a reminder of the sign of peace given to Noah in another beautiful biblical myth. The inscription at the bottom is Latin for “Peace of Christ.”

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Pax Christi is a Movement basically spiritual and ecumenical, born in the midst of a civilization-consuming crisis. It calls to all Christians, in the name of Christ their personal Savour, seeking to create and maintain in them a continuing awareness that His claims have primacy. Pax Christi has one central, all-consuming objective. It seeks to rally the united, massed strength of the whole body of Christians to speedily destroy War -- the destroyer of the Unity of the Body of Christ.

It is a peace action Movement. Every believer is needed. You are needed, and called to begin at once to work with your fellow disciples until every member of the Body of Christ is enlisted for simultaneous action -- “that the world may believe.” When disciples act together to rid the world of War they will manifest the Unity of the Body of Christ in a way that the whole world will understand.

Then the world shall know the power and the victory of the Prince of Peace in the fulfilment of the ancient Prophecy: “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2: 4). People of all nations have always responded to the call of their governments to make War. Shall not believers of all nations respond to Christ’s call to make Peace?

—Excerpts from Pax Christi International