Are you at peace? With the current pandemic and all that has come with it, many people are finding it difficult to maintain a sense of peace in their interior lives. But it’s important to note that peace isn’t merely the absence of conflict, anxiety, or chaos.
St. Paul writes about the peace of Christ, which is a “peace that surpasses all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) If this is the peace that you are searching for, Msgr. Stuart Swetland, host of Go Ask Your Father™ , recently offered a reflection on peace, and how to maintain it in our own lives.
“The French spiritual writer Fr. Jacques Philippe says that any reason that disturbs our peace is a bad reason,” Msgr. Swetland told listeners.
You may hear that quote and think that there are plenty of good reasons why your peace could be disturbed. Illness, death, a job loss, a broken relationship – these are all serious things that can easily disturb your peace. But Msgr. Swetland clarified that the peace he is talking about is not an absence of worry, but a gift that is given to us.
“What he’s speaking of there is the peace that we have with God, the peace that St. Paul talks about, the peace of God that surpasses all understanding,” Msgr. Swetland explained. “That peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Meaning that, if we’re in the state of grace, the Holy Spirit is dwelling in us. And if the Holy Spirit is dwelling in us we have the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the fruits of the Holy Spirit. And some of the fruit of the Holy Spirit is peace and joy. That’s why the Christian should always ‘swim in joy,’ as St. John of the Cross put it.”
Msgr. Swetland pointed out that while St. John of the Cross said this, he did not live a life that was free of struggle. He suffered greatly in his lifetime, yet he still maintained the joy of Christ. Similarly, St. Teresa of Avila lived at the same time as St. John of the Cross (in fact, they were dear friends!) and she also went through great pain and suffering in her effort to restore her Carmelite order.
“These saints understood peace,” said Msgr. Swetland. “They understood peace in a profound way, and they understood that it came from God. Peace is a gift from God, and since it’s a gift from God, nothing should ever disturb it. If we’re living in grace, we have it. So any reason that would disturb it is a bad reason.”
Drawing from an excerpt of the writings of St. Teresa of Avila, Msgr. Swetland pointed to a particular quote from her which says, “Let nothing trouble you. Let nothing frighten you. Everything passes away. God does not change. Patience achieves everything. He who has God lacks nothing. God alone is sufficient.”
Reflecting on this quote, Msgr. Swetland said, “It is reminder that we have this great gift: the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. And it’s a gift of God. It’s a gift of the Holy Spirit, and it is there and we have access to it. And that’s why even in the midst of suffering, and pain, and the craziness caused by this virus and everything else, we Christians must be people of peace, people of joy, people who experience that supernatural reality of who we are and why we are. We are God’s children.”
“Knowing that we are God’s beloved children, that we are sons and daughters in the Son, and have him that gives us peace and joy, it allows us to then deal with anything that comes our way. Because we know who we are and why we are.”