Photograph by Giulietta Riboldi

The Possibility of Peace in Life

Jonathan shares his experience of gathering with his friends in Times Square to respond to Pope Francis' invitation to accompany him in the prophecy for peace.

"I invite you to accompany me in the prophecy for peace – Christ, Lord of peace! The increasingly violent and belligerent world really frightens me; I tell you truly, it frightens me" (Francis, Audience with Communion and Liberation, October 15, 2022).

It has been a few years since I perceived a judgment so urgent.

There are so many little wars, starting from ourselves, our workplaces, our families, our communities and our countries and this plea seems to consume them all.

It is time to move out like the Israelites from Egypt, to sacrifice our comfortable lives to embrace the depth of the call of God within the signs of these times.

But what can move us from our lackluster positions so filled with fear, consumed with our day-to-day struggles and trapped in our own feelings, opinions and even spiritual torpor?

Photograph by Giulietta Riboldi

On Saturday December 18th, on a beautiful winter day, about seventy of us traveled to Times Square from all corners of New York City: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island, and from Westchester, Connecticut, and New Jersey. A small representation of the Metropolitan area that counts 20,000,000 people in its populace.

In NYC on weekends, with the trains running slowly, it takes one to one and a half hours to reach midtown from the outer boroughs. Our families with small children in tow wrapped warmly to brave the cold and our elderly (me included) hoping to brave it as well gathered in our Times Square location to fill it with the singing of Christmas Carols and readings of the Pope and Fr. Giussani.

Times Square during Christmas is an amazing expression of the glory of commercialism. It is overwhelming yet in some way ordered and beautiful. But more impressive was the sea of people from the ends of the earth making their pilgrimage to the center of the modern world.

As we began to sing the fun stuff, “Jingle Bells”, “Rudolph”, etc., people spontaneously joined in with us. Many booklets with the song lyrics, the readings, and the flyer from CL on the war in the Ukraine were handed out, making it easier for people to participate.

As the event went on, looking out at our people, listening to the unity of singing voices and seeing the joy of the people who participated with us in the heart of the city, a kind of silence fell upon the noisy chaotic scene; a silence that seemed to embrace Times Square in its glory and ugliness.

We didn’t think to reach out to the press until the last minute. Nevertheless, we spoke before the event emphasizing that the New York media is always looking for news, and we have something valuable to announce to the world! Yes, we are late, but what is the risk in trying? In fact, many were the challenges we faced in organizing the event, but we went ahead keeping faith in our desire. Our unity grew with every step. CBS News, a major TV outlet, in fact, came and did a news segment!

I am a New Yorker and I love this city and its people with all of my heart. I had a burning desire shared by a few friends to bring to these people that gift I treasure in my heart: the love of Jesus, the mercy of Jesus educated in me by an Italian priest whose movement saved my wandering life so many years ago. It is the only thing I have to share, everything else I possess – my family, children, community, and work – seem to vanish into thin air as phantoms without this awareness.

Slowly, through many years, I have grown in this awareness that He speaks to me through this hard and lovely world. I have learned to hear His voice more and more, and going with my friends to share this gift opens my heart to the possibility of peace in my life. My hope is that I am always helped by my friends to perceive this Voice, this Peace, even in the midst of the chaos of life, like in Times Square.

I believe this experience can move us to risk something new for the world and each of us.

Photograph by Giulietta Riboldi

Merry Christmas from NYC,

Jonathan, Brooklyn, NY