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Peace is fruit of love and prayer - Peace in the world depends on our response

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When someone asked St. Ignatius how he would react if his order broke up, he replied that it would take him no more than "an hour of prayer" to get over the shock and disappointment. Anyone who prays - not just this saint - is able to experience that the fruit of prayer is peace. When a spiritual man pours out his soul to God through prayer (encounter with God), his restless heart finds rest. Just as it is the nature of fire to burn upwards, so do man's desires tend to go upwards. And it is in following this order of things, to which man is destined by the bonds of charity, that he finds peace.

To the contrary, a restless man is ruled and misdirected by his own sentiments which instead of tending upwards, lead downwards. Basically, he is spiritually immature, and is often without peace. He is like a boat for ever on the verge of sinking, menaced as it is by winds and waves. We could say that on his boat Jesus is still asleep.

I wouldn't like anyone to think that earthly sentiments are to be condemned, that only one's affection for God is justified. This is wrong, for God Himself ordered us to love others; and this was a commandment, not an optional. However, God asks us to love with divine love. This makes us think that human happiness is imperfect, and unable to fully satisfy man's heart. With this in mind, we can conclude that a restless heart finds rest only in God.

There is another error related to our search for peace, which must be avoided: we mustn't allow peace to become an "absolute." In the past there was a mystical movement called Quietism, its followers spent all their energy seeking peace, and in a certain sense God became of secondary importance, where the Lord became an instrument in this search for peace. But Jesus tells us: "I came to bring war, not peace." The peace Jesus talks of is a false peace, gained without the cross, without the dying to oneself. It is egoistic and an indication of fear, and a form of escape.

Peace is always fruit of something, such as fruit of the Holy Spirit's presence, but also fruit of our good works. This peace - fruit of our good deeds - is known as the repose of the soul, since it abstained from evil works and is not laden with sin.

In doing good works we imitate the Creator, Who after having made creation (a good thing in His eyes) rests on the seventh day. So it can be said that peace without the realization of good works is apparent peace. It is also true that a Christian's search for peace is also paradoxical because he has to look up at his cross from which peace comes.

God's mercy is the fount of all peace. With man's fall he lost his sense of justice and his capacity to establish peace on the earth. It is only through the intervention of Grace (the new order of creation) that peace can be had on the earth. Ever trustful, we must seek our peace in the Father's forgiveness; through confession, the greatest fount of peace.

We should ask for this grace from the Queen of Peace, who for twenty years has been teaching us that peace is a personal thing between God and man; it is so personal that it depends on man's response: God places His peace within man's heart; from where he can pour it out onto his family and from there it can shine out over the world.



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