Non–Violence from a Good Shepherd Perspective

Good Shepherd Institute for Mission
Non–Violence from a Good Shepherd Perspective

Sr. Claudia Palacios


Lately I have been thinking a lot about how to be more aware of the gift that we as Good Shepherd Sisters and Good Shepherd People have in regard to our Good Shepherd Spirituality as it relates to the topic of non-violence. Naturally, I have turned to St. Mary Euphrasia. 


Mary Euphrasia is certainly a good model of non-violence for us. She herself experienced the consequences of war and violent events in her life, such as the sudden death of her father, separation from her family, difficulties at boarding school, etc. Yet Mary Euphrasia chose not to respond to life in a violent way. She managed to overcome the pain that she had experienced and transformed it into kindness.


Through the beauty of creation and the experiences of love and affection from her parents, teachers and friends, Mary Euphrasia began a journey that led her to a deeper experience of love and transformed her into a “Peace Maker”.  She knew that the signs of love and affection from the ones close to her came from a Goodness that is in each person and comes from God.  She entered into a deep and intimate relationship with this Goodness in solitude and prayer. She was aware that this was the only way to carry out the mission. She said to her religious sisters: “I beg you, dear sisters, work hard to develop an interior life – a life hidden with God….” “Prayer also helps to acquire good judgment and to make wise decisions”


Today we say “as we speak so we move”. Language and the careful use of words are qualities of a “Peace Maker”.  Words can make an impact on our life, but it is more than just carefully chosen words -- it is the “giving from our heart” that makes the difference. The interior disposition that accompanies our words is the real quality of a “Peace Maker”.


St. Mary Euphrasia reminds us: “When the Good Shepherd speaks to his own, he never uses words of despair, hopelessness, frustration, defeat, discouragement, fear confusion or failure. Instead he gives his sheep words of hope, rest, victory, peace, power, joy, triumph and love”.  These words awaken in us the strong interconnection that peace has with our Good Shepherd spirituality. St. Mary Euphrasia became a “Peace Maker” through the experience of being shepherded by God and being a Good Shepherdess for others.


All of us who share this call and passion to heal the wounded, bring back the lost, serve those in economically disadvantaged situations, advocate for women and human rights, etc., have the responsibility to do it in a peaceful, non-violent manner toward the people we serve and those who inflict the pain and suffering. But non-violence does not mean passivity. 


To be “Peace Makers” we must be humble and let God shepherd us, taking time to develop our relationship with Him from whom our strength comes.  We must acknowledge our mistakes and be the first to seek reconciliation when it is needed.  We must recognize our gifts and talents and use them in the service of others.  To be “Peace Makers” we must have the courage to be Shepherds and Shepherdesses and give from our heart words of hope, rest, victory, peace, power, joy, triumph and love without judgments. We must be strong to stand for those who are oppressed, to be the voice for those who cannot speak, to protest with our hearts and our lives against the violence that so many people are suffering. We must persevere with our deeds and words to accomplish our mission, without complaints and with peace.  


St. Mary Euphrasia says to us today: “Let us rouse ourselves and go forward! As we are all Shepherds, or if you prefer Shepherdesses, no small corner of the earth should hold us back.” The witness of our interior disposition, of our life, toward all issues of social justice should be a powerful, peaceful testimony to the world that we want to build, free from oppression and violence. Whatever we do -- counseling, teaching, maintenance, childcare, serving those in need directly or indirectly -- we do it living out our call to be the “living image of the Good Shepherd in the midst of your dear flock”.   And like Mary Euphrasia, we are becoming “Peace Makers”.