Homily of the Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles J Brown
On the Occasion of the 35th Anniversary of the EDSA Revolution
Holy Mass Live from the EDSA Shrine
24 February 2021
Transcription: Gel Katalbas
Photos: Juni Amora Alexander
My dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, as I said at the beginning of the mass today, it’s a tremendous joy for me to be with you in this historic shrine to our Lady, the shrine dedicated to Mary, Queen of Peace.
Our Lady, Regina Pacis, Queen of Peace
Today, we think about Mary, Queen of Peace.
Mary, Queen and Mother of Peace.
Her title as Queen of Peace (Regina Pacis) was added to the Litany of Mary. All of us pray the Litany of Loreto, all these beautiful phrases, beautiful appellations, beautiful names for Mary.
The name Mary, Queen of Peace (Regina Pacis) was added by Pope Benedict XV in 1915. It was added temporarily in 1915. Why? Because Europe convulsed with a terrible struggle, a terrible war which had caused the deaths of countless young men and women all over the continent of Europe. And in 1915, in a provisional, temporary way, Pope Benedict the XV added this title to the Litany of Loreto.
And then in 1917, he confirmed the title to be perpetually said — Our Lady, Regina Pacis, Queen of Peace.
And then, as we know, that war subsided. So we can really believe that Mary interceded at that moment in history, in 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918 to bring a terrible blood-letting, a terrible violence to an end.
We can contrast that in our minds, can’t we, with what we celebrate 35 years ago here in Manila and in the Philippines. The EDSA Revolution, the People Power Revolution which was able to accomplish a change in government without the terrible violence and blood-letting that had accompanied the moment in which Benedict XV had put this title of Our Lady into the litany many years before.
We thank Mary for her intercession at that moment, for her intercession as a Mother of Peace in order to allow a peaceful transition of power here in the Philippines.
As all of you know, Cardinal Sin had the inspiration to build this Shrine in the place where those demonstrators gathered in prayer to pray and to manifest their solidarity with the entire Filipino people for a transition of power in 1986.
The Cardinal had the idea of putting a shrine here in this very place where we celebrate mass today, some 35 years later.
And at this corner, as all of us know, there were two big billboards. We have new billboards now that are advertising commercial products but in those days two big billboards which had phrases from The Family Rosary Crusade.
Two phrases: “The family that prays together, stays together” and “A world at prayer is a world at peace”. Those were phrases of a now venerable Irish priest, Fr. Patrick Peyton, who popularized all over the world praying the rosary for peace.
And so this shrine was formally consecrated some three years later in 1989 by Cardinal Sin who I can say incidentally was a very dear friend of the archbishop who ordained me to the priesthood in that year 1989 in New York City, Cardinal John O’Connor.
Cardinal O’Connor and Cardinal Sin were very dear friends and they worked together in the Church in those years in order to propagate the Gospel of Christ and the message of peace around the world.
Three Circles of Peace
So our message today, our thoughts, are about peace - how much we need peace.
When we reflect on peace, I think we can reflect on three, we can say, concentric circles. That means three circles one inside the other. Three of them.
Justice in Society
First, the biggest circle is peace in SOCIETY.
Peace in society. In which we live.
And for there to be peace in society, there needs, brothers and sisters, to be love, but there principally needs to be JUSTICE.
Justice is the foundation of peace in society.
When there isn’t justice, when people can’t receive justice, they react in violent ways.
So whatever we can do to promote justice in society, we are promoting peace.
This is so important in our world today. To promote justice, fairness. Fairness in society.
That doesn’t mean that everyone is needed the same way. Because all of us are different. With different gifts, different backgrounds. We’re not all identical, but we are all equal in dignity before God. And fairness and justice means that that equality of dignity is respected. We are not identical. We are not like Legos, those little tiles that children play with that are interchangeable. We’re not interchangeable. Each of us is a beautiful creation of God. We're different. But in order for there to be peace in society, there needs to be justice. People need to b treated fairly.
Love in Family
So the next circle is the circle of our family. Our family.
Don’t we want peace in our families? So in the first circle of society -- I’m emphasizing the importance of justice. Where there is no justice, there is no peace. And in the family, I think we can concentrate more on love.
Because family relationships are not really dictated by justice but by love.
Family is a place where love flourishes.
We need to love one another in our families. We need to forgive each other in love when we are offended against and we'd ask for forgiveness when we offend others.
Then our family becomes an oasis of peace.
So even if peace is not existing in society, we have a small oasis, a small garden of peace in our families, if in our families we learn how to love. We learn how to love with the love of Jesus.
Christ in Our Hearts
And finally, we need to find the third concentric circle. First, society. Then our families. Then peace in our hearts.
Peace in our hearts. And where does that peace come from? That peace comes from Christ.
That peace comes from our closeness to Jesus.
Remember, Jesus tells us, “My peace I give you, my peace I leave with you.” He says (this) in the Gospel of John.
“Not as the world gives it do I give you peace.”
So Jesus is telling us we can have peace in our hearts if we’re close to him, if we’re praying to him, if we adore him. Even if we have difficulties in our family and a lack of peace. Even if we have difficulties in our society and a lack of justice.
Peace can reign in our hearts not as the world gives but as Jesus gives.
If we pray, if we are close to the Lord.
And isn’t that what our Lady is constantly telling us to do?
And isn’t that what we see in the Gospel today? Mary, in a spirit of prayer, receiving the message of the angel. The angel tells Mary, “Nothing will be impossible with God. Do not be afraid, do not be disturbed. Nothing is impossible with God."
God’s peace, the peace of God comes into the heart of Mary because when the message came to her, her initial reaction was one of disturbance. “How can this be? How can I be the mother of a child? I do not know man. But the angel reassures her and tells her that nothing will be impossible with God.
Brothers and sisters isn’t that the most fundamental message for each of us in our own hearts today: that God can do all things if we completely surrender ourselves to Him as Mary did. If we follow her example that we read about and we heard in the gospel today.
She hears those words, “Nothing is impossible for God." And then she says to the angel, “May it be done to me according to your word.”
She surrenders herself to the plan of God, and in that plan she finds peace.
There are famous words of the Italian poet Dante...Dante wrote this amazing poem. He traveled through hell, through purgatory, and into paradise, into heaven. And he says he hears the words when he’s in heaven about God. In His will is our peace.
In God’s will is our peace.
When we surrender ourselves to God’s will, when we understand that "God’s will" will bring us peace, then a peace comes into our hearts.
And then, going back to the image of our three concentric circles, that peace in our hearts gets radiated to our families expressed through love.
And then it gets radiated further into society expressed by justice.
Peace in our hearts, the peace that comes from Jesus.
Mary says, “Let it be done to me according to thy Word” and at that moment the Word who is Jesus became flesh in her womb.
Peace Be With You
Brothers and sisters, in our mass today we will offer peace to one another. “Peace be with you,” we will say.
What are we praying for? We’re praying for that peace of heart that Mary knew, that she received from God.
The peace that comes into our hearts that the world cannot give and that the world cannot even understand. But it comes to us through Jesus.
We wish that to one another at mass today. And then we also pray, “Your will be done” in the Our Father. “Your will be done”.
Those two things - peace and God’s will.
That is what the Lord is asking us for today.
So, dear brothers and sisters, (as) we celebrate this amazing day, this vigil of the anniversary of the People Power Revolution, we ask Our Lady to continue to intercede for us as she always does, as our tender, loving, merciful Mother.
But Our Lady of Peace, Queen of Peace. She who has conquered violence. She who loves tenderness. She who gives us Jesus.
And from Jesus we receive peace.
Brothers and sisters, I ask you as I always ask do, please pray for Pope Francis.
When I was with him in October and told him and recounted to him my experience of his call to me to come to this beautiful country, the Philippines, the Pope remembered his trip here. He is always asking, especially the Filipino people to pray for him. So, me as his representative, I'm renewing that call.
Please pray for Pope Francis.
Please pray for me as your Papal Nuncio here in the Philippines.
And please pray for the gift of peace in our hearts, in our families, in our societies, especially as we come, God-willing, to the end of this Covid pandemic.
May God bless you and give you His precious peace.