I apologize for not having written in a while. I’ve just been so busy, and as the title implies, have had only fleeting experiences of peace. My little brother was born on the 2nd, the 8th child in my family. As you can imagine, trying to maintain a calm household with my parents gone can be a very challenging task. Anyway, since peace is extremely valuable and precious, I believe it would be good to learn more about it.
The Catholic Bible Dictionary defines peace as ” The harmony between persons and especially between God and man.” Not to be confused with concordance (agreement). Two evil men can be in agreement about the murder plot, but it is anything but peaceful. As already stated, peace is especially harmony with God and man. This generally means that your will lines up with that of God’s will. So, unity brings about peace, which makes a lot of sense. As Ol’ Abe said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand”. It seems that it can’t be very peaceful in its not-standingness either. It seems to me that concordance is not peace, but the beginning of peace. Since peace is a Fruit of the Holy Spirit, it can only really be achieved as an effect of the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life. That’s most likely why retreats are so peaceful, they’re quiet and you’re surrounded by the Holy Spirit.
So, we have begun to establish the meaning of peace. Now, how to come about it. After all, “elusive peace” is extremely sought after in society, and rightly so. In modern times, all of us are constantly busy. We have to get here by x time, and then from there have to meet up with so and so and this place. Even when we have time to ourselves it seems that something has to be going on. So, if you’re going to build something, you have to lay down the foundation first. In life, your foundation is much like trust. It keeps you rooted in reality. Imagine a life where you couldn’t trust anything, not even this blog. You would always be afraid of everything, and would never let yourself be around others. The exact opposite of peace. Since the majority of us don’t live like that, we all trust something. If you’re around someone you don’t trust, you at least trust the probability of that person not killing you. If you’re smart, you’ll place your trust somewhere that you can rely on, no matter what, like a family member or a close friend. If you’re even smarter, you’ll put your trust in God.
I heard a really good story when I was on an Opus Dei retreat. There was a passenger plane that was going through a storm. At one point they hit extremely rough turbulence. Every passenger on the plane was petrified. They were silent and barely dared to breathe. Well, almost everyone. There was a little boy, around 6-ish years old, who continued playing with his action figures. Still making those cute little noises of battle while his two toys fought each other. A woman sitting across from him was astonished, not to mentioned annoyed. She said to him, “Kid, why are you still playing? Don’t you know the plane could go down? Aren’t you scared?”. The boy continued playing and replied, “Nope”. The woman was even more annoyed and asked him why. The boy replied, “The pilot is my dad.”
I think we could all use some of that boy’s trust. Remember how Jesus said that we must become like little children? I would be willing to bet that includes child-like trust. If my dad told my 3-year-old brother that we were having pizza for dinner, it would never cross his little toddler mind that my dad was lying. I’m not saying you need to be naïve, but have a rational trust in a reliable source. The most reliable of which is of course God. Did you notice how scared and agitated the people on the plane were compared to the serenity of the boy? They didn’t trust the plane or the pilot, but guess who did? That’s right, the little kid. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
We can’t put some of our trust in God, and some of it in the world, because you won’t end up with God, but the world. Remember when Abraham was told to leave his homeland and go somewhere else, leaving everything behind? But Abe didn’t fully trust God yet, so he brought some insurance, his nephew Lot. Eventually Lot ended up in a very bad place, and so did Abraham. It doesn’t make sense. Here you have a all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good God, Lord and Creator of the Universe, and He wants to protect and guide you, and you only give him part of your trust. You definitely should still trust people, but rely solely upon the Lord. As humans, we will always get messed up, especially when it comes to trust. But try to do your best, and God will reward you for it. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).
We have covered peace with God (which will usually get you that good feeling of peacefulness), but peace with man (along the lines of world peace) is a little different. It still begins with putting your trust in God, but it requires a little more to achieve, since one party isn’t God. I think the easiest way to explain it is Pope Paul IV’s famous dictum, “If you want peace, work for justice”.
Now, with both kinds of peace, you have enemies that try to stop the process. Peace with God will be opposed by the devil, who wants you as far away from God as possible. Don’t be afraid, God only allows temptations into your life that you can overcome. If you trust God, this shouldn’t be a problem. Now, peace with man will also be opposed by the devil, but it is more common for your enemy to be other men. You can’t necessarily make the sign of the cross with holy water to make them go away usually unlike the devil, but they can be beaten. First Step, defend the weak and innocent. To defeat something, you first must protect what they try to destroy. In The Dark Knight, Batman didn’t relentlessly go after the Joker, his first priority was the safety of the Joker’s hostages and targets. And eventually, in doing so, he captured the Joker. He did kind of change his tactics in the next movie, but that doesn’t matter.
The military can have a great impact on peace, for good or bad. In the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, it says this:
The requirements of legitimate defense justify the existence in States of armed forces, the activity of which should be at the service of peace. Those who defend the security and freedom of a country, in such a spirit, make an authentic contribution to peace . . . The right to use force for purposes of legitimate defense is associated with the duty to protect and help innocent victims who are not able to defend themselves from acts of aggression. (502ff.)
One of the things I love about Captain America is his shield. For starters, it’s indestructible and is red, white, and blue. But my favorite is the fact that it is a shield. A shield is used in defense, which is what the military should be used for.
So, “elusive peace” isn’t so untouchable as we think it is. It’s hard yes, but with God, all things are possible. Stay peaceful my friends, just like this chicken: