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Center for Action and Contemplation
The Spiral of Violence
The Spiral of Violence

The Spiral of Violence: Weekly Summary

Saturday, May 7, 2022

The root of violence is the illusion of separation—from God, from Being itself, and from being one with everyone and everything.
—Richard Rohr

If violence is met by violence, the world will fall into a spiral of violence. —Hélder Câmara

If we really want an effective end to violence we must remove the violence that lies at the root of all violence: structural violence, social injustice, exclusion of citizens from the management of the country, repression. —Óscar Romero

Violence encourages the wrong kind of world, a world that creates conditions for violence against bodies instead of one that seeks to suture the cultural pain and create conditions for bodies to exist without the threat of violence. —Robyn Henderson-Espinoza

I am convinced, with Pope Francis, that even owning nuclear weapons is a spiritual problem. The way forward will depend on spiritual transformation at a corporate level. —Richard Rohr

All violence begins with the personal, with the I, and with a point of decision, a crossing of a line, where each of us chooses momentarily to view another living being as an It rather than a Thou. —Pamela Cooper-White

Contemplative Nonviolence

Father John Dear has dedicated his life to nonviolent activism and teaching peace in the manner of the nonviolent Jesus. Inspired by the witness and writings of Thomas Merton, Dear urges us to renounce our violence and take up a contemplative practice of nonviolence:

Through contemplative nonviolence, we focus on the nonviolent Jesus and the Holy Spirit of peace, love, and compassion, and in so doing, we undergo a lifelong, daily, ongoing conversion to nonviolence, a new beginning that starts every time we sit to meditate. In this contemplative practice, we deal with our inner violence and surrender ourselves to the God of peace, even if we do not want to or do not understand why we should. We undergo a cold-turkey withdrawal from violence. . . . It’s painful and uncomfortable—and literally our salvation. This journey for the sobriety of nonviolence will continue for the rest of our lives. . . . It’s a long-haul, ever-deepening awareness, a daily surrender of our violence to God, so that over time we are transformed by God’s disarming love and sent into the world of war as God’s peacemakers. . . .

This form of contemplative prayer allows the peace of God to slowly overtake us. We die to ourselves and all that the culture of war could offer, surrendering into the abyss of God. . . . We give God our inner violence and resentments, our hurts and anger, our pain and wounds, our bitterness and vengeance. We grant clemency and forgiveness toward those who have hurt us, and move from anger, revenge, and violence to compassion, mercy, and nonviolence. This quiet, daily, uneventful experience of contemplative prayer transforms us into peacemakers. Though it might feel like sitting in darkness, it enables us to walk in light.

Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.

John Dear, Thomas Merton, Peacemaker: Meditations on Merton, Peacemaking, and the Spiritual Life (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2015), 15, 16.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Frank J. Aleksandrowicz, Clark Avenue and Clark Avenue Bridge (detail), 1973, photograph, Ohio, public domain, National Archives. Chaokun Wang, 轮胎 tyre (detail), 2021, photograph, Pingyao, creative commons. John Messina, Drainage of Marsh Leaves (detail), 1970, photograph, Louisiana, public domain. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.

This week’s images appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image inspiration: War, bitterness, consumed and discarded goods. Why are we sustaining the spiral of violence? Do we not see that we are part of the creation we are destroying?

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.

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This year’s theme

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Radical Resilience

We live in a world on fire. This year the Daily Meditations will explore contemplation as a way to build Radical Resilience so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or burning out. The path ahead may be challenging, but we can walk it together.

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Our theme this year is Radical Resilience. How do we tend our inner flame so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or out? Meditations are emailed every day of the week, including the Weekly Summary on Saturday. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time.
In a world of fault lines and fractures, how do we expand our sense of self to include love, healing, and forgiveness—not just for ourselves or those like us, but for all? This monthly email features wisdom and stories from the emerging Christian contemplative movement. Join spiritual seekers from around the world and discover your place in the Great Story Line connecting us all in the One Great Life. Conspirare. Breathe with us.