How often in the history of our nation – indeed the world – has there been civil strife? How often has there been threat of contagion and disease? Who found peace in those times? Where did they find true peace – in their own hearts? The ones whose focus was Jesus Christ.
In our own country a few come to mind: Fr. Andrew White – who was taken from Maryland to England in chains for exercising his priesthood, St. Junipero Serra – who spread the Faith to over 6,000 Native Californians and defended them against Spanish oppression (his statue was just desecrated in California), Fr. Augustus Tolton – the first black Catholic priest in our country who had been born into slavery, St. John Neumann – who regularly had his parish church attacked when he was pastor in Buffalo, St. Damien of Molokai – who took care of the lepers on Devil’s Island in Hawaii, Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini and Mother Katherine Drexel –who established schools, hospitals and missions for African Americans and Native Americans, and Fr. Vincent Capodanno – who laid down his life on a Vietnamese battlefield to give the final sacraments to dying Marines. There are so many more in our country and throughout history.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (John 14:27).
It is only in Jesus Christ that we find peace – His freedom in our hearts. Often I quote from Fr. Jacques Philippe who is a contemporary French writer. In his book, Nine Days to Welcome Peace, he gives very practical guidance for obtaining peace and making decisions. If you will permit me to again cite his wisdom for our times.
Fr. Lorenzo Scupoli, a 16th century spiritual writer, said: The devil does his utmost to banish peace from one’s heart, because he knows that God abides in peace and it is in peace that He accomplishes great things (p. 24-25).
Fr. Philippe continues,
Trying to keep the peace of our hearts and fighting against worry, trouble and spiritual agitation are indispensable conditions for letting God act, thus allowing us to grow in love and in giving our lives over to the fruitfulness to which we’re called.
I would add that it’s only in peace that we can discern rightly. When we’re not at peace, when we’re filled with worry, agitation, or trouble, that’s when we’re at the mercy of our emotions, and we don’t have an objective or accurate outlook.
When a problem comes up that makes us lose our peace, the urgency is not in resolving the problem in the hope of regaining peace; rather, the urgency is in first recovering some minimum amount of peace, and then seeing what we can do with the problem (p. 26-27).
What is the predominant emotion in our country – maybe in the world – over the last few months? How about FEAR: fear of disease, fear of my fellow man, fear of the future, etc?
Fear does not give peace. It causes anxiety, worry, agitation and trouble. Philippe’s words are good advice: . . . the urgency is in first recovering some minimum amount of peace, and then seeing what we can do with the problem.
And, how do we recover some amount of peace? One has to re-focus on and love Jesus and not the problem that is causing the worry, agitation and trouble. Get to Mass, Confession, Adoration, pray Mary’s peace plan daily – the Rosary, etc. And, SHUT OFF THE SOCIAL MEDIA! How can you possibly think you will be able to focus on Jesus when you are bombarded with FEAR!
Then, focus on being a saint today in your vocation – marriage, single life, or consecrated life.
The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything (Philippians 4:5).