Peace is defined as “a state of tranquility or quiet.” As believers, we know that true and total peace can only be found in a relationship with Christ. It’s easy to have inner peace when things are going well. But when we experience fear, anxiety, depression, and other tumultuous emotions, we struggle to hold on to peace. Having inner peace doesn’t mean that we are happy with everything in our lives — that would be unattainable for most. Rather, peace is a state of being in which our minds are at rest with divine calm.
Today, in the midst of worldwide suffering and conflict, we are far from a state of public peace. The coronavirus pandemic is claiming lives and changing society as we know it. Racial divides and tensions are coming to a head in pursuit of justice, dignity, and equality. The chaos and gravity of these external circumstances inevitably disrupts our inner peace. More than ever, we need to turn to Christ as the source of our hope and peace. We can also look to the saints who lived through great distress for wisdom and guidance.
Inner peace is often associated with self-improvement. There are countless books, articles, and classes that offer strategies, tactics, and tools that aim to help calm our minds and be peaceful. These resources can be useful and productive, but we don’t need to read a book or take a class to find peace. It starts with love. Viewing peace as the result of self-improvement keeps the focus on us when what we really should be doing is loving others.
St. Teresa of Calcutta spoke about peace often, emphasizing that peace starts with love: “Works of love are works of peace.” It’s easy to sit in our feelings and think inward, but we need to get outside of ourselves to reach a place of peace. Inner peace starts with an outward display of love. The more we focus on others, the more peaceful we become. St. Teresa said, “Whenever you share love with others, you’ll notice the peace that comes to you and to them.”
It’s easier said than done, but we must hold on to trust in God and his plan for our lives and the world. A trusting disposition will help us persevere. When we are faced with uncontrollable things that threaten our peace, we need to hand it all over to God. St. Leonard of Port Maurice offered four rules for achieving peace, the second is “surrender to divine providence.” Surrendering isn’t giving up, it’s trusting that God’s way is the best way.
St. Leonard continued, “Sanctity and inner peace are attained only when God’s will holds sway. The Lord knows best.” He makes the distinction that accepting God’s will isn’t “reluctantly putting up with it.” Instead, it’s the trust that no matter what happens, God will sustain us. Even when we don’t understand the divine intent, we need to realize that God’s hand is in it all and he will never abandon us. Hand over all your worries to him in prayer.
Loving others and trusting God requires both prayer and action. St. Leonard’s first rule for peace is “be attached to God.” He writes, “The soul’s primary need is communication with its creator.” We are called to a deep prayer life to nurture our faith and relationship with God. At the same time, we are called to take action to help others. To accept God’s will is not to be idle. We can all contribute to positive change and spread the love of Christ. Even now, peace is possible.
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