Bringing peace to the world

Fred Cavaiani

I just returned from a two week trip to Italy. It was a visit to Venice, Florence, Padua, Siena, Assisi and Rome. The highlight was four days in Assisi. Assisi was a violent city in the 13th century until a man, Francis Bernadone, came along. He created an atmosphere of peace by his simple lifestyle. His total immersion in God allowed him to see and experience the Presence of God in everything and everyone. I was impressed by the beauty and peace of Assisi. Everyone seemed to exude a sense of peace. I talked with a man who had lived on the outskirts of this small medieval town all of his life. He stated that Assisi has always been a peaceful town.

A few days later in Rome, a very busy ancient city, the Paris attacks by terrorists happened. Security in Rome and in Vatican City were on high alert. With all the busyness of this large ancient city and now on high alert, I thought again of the peaceful atmosphere of Assisi. But I then realized that this peaceful town became this way by the presence of a very loving and peaceful man. Francis of Assisi lived in an age of violence and corruption. He treated everyone with respect and compassion so that to be in his presence was to experience the Presence of a Loving God. His peaceful and loving spirit created an atmosphere that allowed individuals to face their own internal demons without criticism.

The violence at the time of Francis of Assisi and the conflicts between Muslims and Christians were very similar to the conflicts of today. This Francis of Assisi embraced conflicts with compassion toward others and the desire to hear another person's story. He was against crusades but for compassionate dialogue and understanding with those who thought differently. It is as if his city became absorbed in his peaceful presence and in his deeper surrender to a God of love and understanding.

In this world of quantum physics, Francis sent out a peaceful presence to the whole world. It is as if this presence radiated into everyone and influenced them to treat one another with compassion, love, and understanding.

I listened to a man who had visited the Middle East a few years ago. He said that he experienced tension in the air as he visited some of the Christian sites. He stated that in Assisi he felt none of this tension but only a sense of peace.

This two-week journey to many different sacred places in Italy made me realize that the tension we experience today can only be overcome by a peaceful presence toward other people. I got tense for awhile when I was in Rome and saw on CNN that Isis considers Rome a new spot for their hatred. It has called for the "Conquest of Rome." Indifferent and hating people become immobilized when they are surrounded by a group of people who seek only peace. Hatred is overcome through love. Indifference is overcome with kind actions. When we start treating everything and everyone with love and respect we send out a peaceful energy into the world that can make things better.

This two-week pilgrim journey through Italy has reconfirmed for me that we all are searching for a Divine Love of Peace and Acceptance that will never end. Assisi had a powerful saint so many years ago. His legacy of peace remains and is powerfully present in this town.

We will change the world by becoming a peaceful presence to everyone through our kindness and compassion. But this takes a determined effort to spend much time in quiet receptivity to the Presence of a God who always loves and at every moment is pouring this love and wisdom into us.

It takes holy men and women to keep reminding us of this so we can begin to reflect on what is most important to us in life. Francis Bernadone of Assisi is one of those people who can have a great influence on us. I have seen the results of what happens to a town when one person starts a movement of total surrender to God and total giving to others in love and compassion. Bullets are only overcome through compassion and love. Enemies are overcome through simple acts of kindness and mercy.

This sounds simple and idealistic. My two weeks Italy has convinced me more than ever that it works.

Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage counselor and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeast Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: Fredcavi@yahoo.com and his website is fredthecounselor.com.

Published: Tue, Nov 24, 2015

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