Time for Reflection

– in the Scottish Parliament at 2:00 pm on 18th September 2002.

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Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament 2:00 pm, 18th September 2002

To lead our time for reflection, we welcome the Reverend Father Paul Fletcher, minister at the Sacred Heart church in Edinburgh.

Reverend Father Paul Fletcher (Sacred Heart Church, Edinburgh):

Peace! I thank Sir David and all the members of the Scottish Parliament for inviting me here. I come as a deaf Jesuit priest ministering to the Roman Catholic community of the Sacred Heart, Lauriston and the Edinburgh deaf community. I will share a few personal reflections on how we communicate peace in our lives.

As I am deaf, touch is important to me, as it is to many deaf people. Touch brings acceptance and reassurance. Deaf people are naturally tactile; their hands express and mean so much. Yet I am aware how easily touch can leave us feeling fragile. Naturally, all of us resist being vulnerable—so much so that we live in a society that is afraid to touch, afraid to reach out to help people in need and afraid that our gestures and actions may be misinterpreted or misunderstood.

Fear does not help. We need peace. In the deaf community, we express "peace" in sign language by a gesture of two hands coming together and drawing a line of harmony, of calm and of peace. In Catholic liturgies, we express peace by shaking hands or embracing each other, especially before communion in response to the prayer for peace. That is a simple gesture of touch that involves reconciliation, forgiveness and acceptance. With the right attitude, touch can heal many of life's hurts and bring inner peace. Try it and see.

Jesus's touch brought healing to many people on earth, and we all know that actions speak louder than words. On 1 January, for world day of peace, Pope John Paul II reminded us that there can be

"No peace without justice, no justice without forgiveness".

It is hard to forgive when one feels victimised, marginalised or discriminated against, because the feeling of injustice is such that one feels paralysed—numb to the point of fear. Injustice begets helplessness, inertia and negativity.

However, we need to be positive. Appropriate justice, tempered with forgiveness, brings a chance for atonement and being one again. It enables wholeness and acceptance and ultimately promotes lasting peace.

Before the start of business, let us consider how we bring peace to our world, our workplace and our neighbours, homes and families. May we reflect in the stillness of this moment and thank God for the gift of peace.

Loving God, Creator of us all, look down on your people in their time of need, for you alone are the source of our peace. May we share in the peace of Christ who gave his life in the service of all. May our touch bring reassurance and new confidence as we continue to pray and work for peace in our world.

May the touch of God Almighty and the peace of Christ be with you all.