Evensong for Peace

-- by Sister Elise Garcia

A Reading from Job

Where were you when I founded the Earth?
Tell me if you have understanding.
Who determined its size; do you know?
Who stretched out the measuring line for it?
Who counts the clouds in his wisdom?

Or who tilts the water jars of heaven
So that the dust of Earth is fused into a mass
and its clods made solid?

Do you give the horse his strength,
and endow his neck with splendor?

Is it by your discernment that the hawk soars,
that he spreads his wings toward the south?

Then Job answered God and said :
I know that you can do all things
and that no purpose of yours can be hindered

I have dealt with great things that I do not understand;
things too wonderful for me, which I cannot know.

I had heard of you by word of mouth,
but now my eye has seen you.


How beautiful is this day when so many of us from different parts of the Dominican Family are gathered together in this sacred place to pray for peace – to pray for an end to violence and war on our Earth.

From throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Iraq, Argentina, Germany, and elsewhere, we are here … adding our voices to those of our Dominican ancestors … forming an unbroken 800-year stream of prayer to God … for an end to war, for reconciliation, for freedom, for forgiveness, for justice.

For 800 years we have been praying. And yet wars continue. Violence is unabated. Systems of domination oppress people and ravage Earth. “Why?” we ask, often in desperation. Why doesn’t God intervene?

Job was a man of prayer who walked humbly with God. A righteous man, Job was totally confounded by the sudden and terrible turn of events that saw him lose his wife, his children, his lands, his health.

As we know, when Job finally asked to see God and hear the cause of his suffering, Job was given no direct answer. Instead, he was given a glimpse of “things too wonderful for him to know” about God’s majestic work of Divine Creation. Job came to understand that “God can do all things” and that no purpose of God’s “can be hindered.”

Job came to understand in an entirely new way that he was one part of a much, much bigger story.

Today, as the U.S. war in Iraq continues to claim so many lives and wreak such havoc … as warfare in Darfur leaves thousands homeless and brutalized … as fighting is renewed in the Holy Land … and as the violence of our mindless and sacrilegious exploitation of God’s creation imperils the very life that sustains us … we continue to pray, knowing there is a much, much bigger story going on.

Thanks to study and the probing of our God-given intellect, we now have empirical knowledge, for the first time in human history, about the way God created our Earth, our universe. Our eyes now see.

It is a 14-billion-year story of such majesty and awe that it leaves us, like Job, marveling at “things too wonderful for us to know.”

This Universe God created is immense, spanning billions of light years – totally beyond our fathoming. And yet it is also minutely calibrated. If the universe had expanded one-fraction of a second faster or one-fraction of a second slower, we would not be here today.

Our scientific knowledge now affirms many insights of our mystics … of our faith. In the profound immensity of God’s creation, the most minute detail counts. The sparrow matters. As do we.

As does our prayer, in ways we cannot fathom. In ways, perhaps, “too wonderful” for us to know.