January 12, 2015

VATICAN CITY – Peace is a gift that comes through prayer and through small daily efforts to sow harmony in one's family, parish and community, Pope Francis said.

"At the beginning of this new year, we are all called to reignite in our hearts a spark of hope, which must be translated into concrete works of peace: You don't get along with that person? Make peace. In your home? Make peace.

"In the community? Make peace. At work? Make peace," he said Jan. 4 during his midday recitation of the Angelus.

"Peace is not just an absence of war, but the general condition of the person who is in harmony with him- or herself, in harmony with nature and in harmony with others," he said.

Everyone says they want peace, Pope Francis said, but they continue to make war, even on a small scale.

"How many families, how many communities – even parishes – are at war?" he asked.

Describing Mary as the "queen of peace," the pope said that during her earthly life she knew difficulty, "but she never lost her peace of heart, a fruit of having abandoned herself with trust to the mercy of God.

"We ask Mary, our tender mother, to point the whole world to the sure path of love and peace."

Reciting the Angelus Jan. 1, he reminded people that the theme of his 2015 message for the World Day of Peace was No Longer Slaves, but Brothers and Sisters.

In that message, the pope urged everyone to help fight the evil of modern-day slavery.

Nearly 30 million people worldwide are estimated to be living in slave-like conditions.

"We are facing a global phenomenon which exceeds the competence of any one community or country," he said.

"I urgently appeal to all men and women of good will not to become accomplices to this evil, not to turn away from the suffering of our brothers and sisters, our fellow human beings, who are deprived of their freedom and dignity."