Christians, Muslims promote peace through “harmony chain”

ZAMBOANGA CITY, May 25, 2008—Twenty Christians and Muslims from Mindanao recently pledged to promote peace in the region through sharing of faith and spirituality.

“The first experience in my commitment, the harmonious relationship of my mind and my heart make me a better person. Dialogue becomes an attitude, it helps me to establish harmonious relationships with others. Every day I am confronted on how to purify my thought, my interpretation,” said Aileen from Cotabato a participant.

Aileen and others who hailed from Antipolo, Basilan, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Cotabato, Davao, Ipil, Kabasalan, Zamboanga and Canada, gathered to share their experiences in the own areas on the journey proposed by initiative of prayer for peace, called Harmony Chain (HC), May 8.

The theme was “to link the link persons” to know Muslims and Christians, united by God and religious experiences.

The Silsilah Dialogue Movement in Mindanao started the HC initiative as a response to the declaration by the government of a “total war” against the Moro rebels in 2000.

The HC links people of every age, nation and religion—praying for and building peace. It is an inter-faith initiative of meditation and prayer for dialogue and peace. Because the people who hold hands together in prayer, with hearts burning for peace, are in different places in different time zones, the HC is a continuous prayer for peace, 24 hours a day.

It is a chain of friendship, freedom and respect—a chain of prayers to break the chain of violence, hatred, biases and fears. Besides the 36 localities in the Philippines (mostly in Mindanao) where the Harmony Prayer is already well known , there are small groups in 14 countries—Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Egypt, France, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Myanmar, Pakistan, South Africa, Thailand, USA and Vietnam—linked in prayer.

“Cry peace with your prayer and your life-in-dialogue” is the slogan of the HC.

“The recent development of the HC inspired us to gather in order to define better the role of the link persons, as animators, bridges between the members, to care for the spiritual growth of the committed members,” said Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra, founding director of Silsilah.

The HC initiative is neither a movement nor an organization with a heavy structure. An attitude of volunteerism, of service, is a characteristic of the link person moved by their spiritual commitment made of faith and conviction. “We love peace, and we entrust our mission to God,” said D’Ambra.

Ms. Minda Saño, president of Silsilah, said that the development of the HC would reach out many people of many organizations and living faiths.

“Prayer is power, God’s power! It is important to achieve peace; it is a contribution to peace in Mindanao and in the world, transforming the lives of those who pray,” said Fr. Vincent, a resource person.

The HC links both Christians and Muslim by the same spirit and the will to spread the prayer and dialogue for peace in each own area, challenged by the commitment of each one to learn more and more how to bring peace with spirituality, said Fr. Vincent.

“We want to start from the spiritual values of each people and religion for a more sustainable peace,” according to Saño.

Where there is lack of faith in God, an absence of a spiritual dimension, there is also lack of comprehension and harmony. Tension, division, violence, conflict in the families, communities, friends, societies and nations will surely follow, Sano believes.

“Prayer for peace is good, but not enough! “The goal of peace on earth will come not without some personal pain. But the effort to make peace in our homes, in our personal relationships and at work, puts flesh and bones on our prayers for peace,” said Ms. Lilhy, a participant.

“To pray for peace is demanding and at the same time transforming our lives. If we are unwilling to work to help peace break out in our homes and lives, then why should we be surprised that our prayers for peace seem to go unheard by God? Lilhy asked.

The harmony prayer is an answer or prevention to a conflict. Reconciliation is necessary after a conflict to build peace. Let us not wait for war to think about peace. Accumulating offenses, hurts and unforgiveness will only escalate conflicts and accompanying terrible damages. Accumulating seeds of understanding, patience, attention to the needs of the others, sharing and solidarity will preserve peace in families, working places and communities, explained D’Ambra.

“HC is not only in the context of Christian-Muslim dialogue; it is also in the context of every intercultural and inter-religious dialogue. We need dialogue in the life of couples, families, communities (whether civil or religious), groups and movements, in a pluralistic society with many nationalities living together in our global village. Dialogue for better understanding is a present necessity of our world and peace of heart above all, peace in the family to avoid conflicts,” Aileen said. (Santosh Digal)(CBCPNews)

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