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True Peace

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They have treated lightly the injury to my people: "Peace, peace!" they say, though there is no peace — Jer 6:14; see also Jer 8:11; Ez 13.

Have you ever been on the phone with a computer help person, staring at the error message on your screen, only to be told, "Everything should be fine. There's nothing wrong with your system"?

You really want to put the phone through the computer screen at that point.

Or you're on the line with your health insurance, only to be informed that the very necessary procedure isn't covered as a necessary procedure.

Or you're in serious pain in the doctor's office, only to be told that you're fine, there's no sign that anything's wrong, and here's the bill.

Nothing infuriates a person more than to be told, "Oh, stop fussing! It's not that big a deal. Besides, it's impossible that things could be as bad as you are saying."

That was how people often received news of the way people were being treated in Nazi Germany, or Stalinist Russia, or the South under Jim Crow. They didn't — couldn't — wouldn't believe.

They cried, "Peace! Peace!" But there was no peace.

See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil. Nothing's wrong. Everything's fine.

The same sort of lie appears in relativism, in the belief that all beliefs are equal, no objective standard exists by which to judge the rightness or wrongness of anyone else's words, deeds, or thoughts.

That, also, is the cry of "Peace! Peace!" when there is no peace. Relativism allows a person to turn a blind eye to the slaughter of the unborn, to the abandonment of the elderly, to every evil under the sun because a relativist no longer believes in the existence of evil.

Instead of these sources of false peace, Christians are called to trust in the source of true peace: the Lord Jesus Christ.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid — Jn 14:27.

How do we find that peace of Christ? How do we maintain it in this valley of tears in the face of so many real evils?

Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you — Phil 4:4-9.

Christians are not called to be blind to the evil abroad in the world, but rather to fight it, to face it with the name of Jesus on our lips, the crucifix in one hand, and the Rosary in the other. We are to perform the works of mercy, and so set a limit on evil. We are to pray in all our needs, trusting in God to provide, and be the merciful face of Jesus turned to the suffering face of Jesus in our neighbors. Do this, and there shall be peace.

How do we know that this is a true promise? We can look to the testimonies of the saints such as St. Faustina, who endured all sorts of trials and sufferings, but who could still write:

The barque of my life sails along
Amid darkness and shadows of night,
And I see no shore;
I am sailing the high seas.

The slightest storm would drown me,
Engulfing my boat in the swirling depths,
If You Yourself did not watch over me, O God,
At each instant and moment of my life.

Amid the roaring waves
I sail peacefully, trustingly,
And gaze like a child into the distance without fear,
Because You, O Jesus, are my Light.

Dread and terror is all about me,
But within my soul is peace more profound than the depths of the sea,
For he who is with You, O Lord, will not perish;
Of this Your love assures me, O God.

Though a host of dangers surround me,
None of them do I fear, for I fix my gaze on the starry sky,
And I sail along bravely and merrily,
As becomes a pure heart.

And if the ship of my life sails so peacefully,
This is due to but one thing above all:
You are my helmsman, O God.
This I confess with utmost humility (Diary, 1322).

This peace is the fruit of the prayer, "Jesus, I trust in You." This peace that surpasses understanding is the fruit of passing through the darkness while clinging to the Cross, while holding fast to faith in Jesus, hoping in His mercy, and loving God and neighbor. It is a hard-won peace, but as we can see from the lives of the saints, well-worth the price.

Lent Spirituality Series


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