“Christians must lean on the Cross of Christ, just as travelers lean on a staff when they begin a long journey. They must have the Passion of Christ deeply embedded in their minds and hearts, because only from it, can they derive peace, grace, and truth.” St. Anthony of Padua
With every passing year, in every byline and relationship encountered,the awareness of the world and our place in it reveals one constant- humanity’s profound desire for happiness and need for love. The difference in each life is just how we seek happiness and where we believe that we have found it. In my youth I relished in the art of winning a good debate, evidenced in the ground of gaining one more in support of a cause and perceiving each incidence as a battle won. What has become more clear is that the goal of our Christian life cannot consist only in these small victories, or simply out of prideful motivation or righteous indignation but from a true desire for peace.
Not an easy path
“If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.”
–Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Take a glimpse even at our daily interactions with our family or colleagues, to work for peace may at times place us at the front lines of contentiousness and disagreement. Make no mistake, not everyone is readily interested in the real work of peace. Why on earth not? For a variety of reasons, there are many who either cannot see how their happiness is connected to a greater plan or to a community beyond themselves. And yet, this path isn’t about solely convincing the other the error of their ways, but walking with and slowly discerning how to lead and witness to a greater truth. It is often imperfect and messy, as we are imperfect in understanding and discerning how best to move ourselves. Yet, if we invite God to be the principal mover and seek to take the back seat to the Holy Spirit then we begin to see the hope in the way ahead.
“With firm purpose you maintain peace; in peace, because of our trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3
Not quickly achieved
Peace is not just the absence of war. Like a cathedral, peace must be constructed patiently and with unshakable faith.
–Pope John Paul II
For me, this is perhaps the most difficult realization of the day-to-day endeavor towards peace. Steps taken to find common ground, sincere overtures at reconciliation albeit concessions and acceptance of one another fall back into familiar patterns. There are honestly times we might wonder why we try at all. Yet, this isn’t anything new to humanity or even to the early Christian communities. Inclinations to division, personality preference and disagreements over direction has beset us since the beginning of time. Truth is we may not ever witness the efforts of our labors in our lifetime. And still, each day presents a gifted opportunity to offer a smile, a touch of mercy, a word of kindness – an imparting of a moment of grace to someone who has a great need for peace.
“Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My mercy.”
–Diary of St Faustina, Divine Mercy in my Soul
May this moment be an invitation to discover peace and place within you a desire to cultivate and extend this peace to all that you encounter in your day.