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And the Lord Said…

31 Aug

Heavenly Sun Beams

St. Augustine wrote in his “Confessions:”

“I have tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst for more. You have touched me, and I burn for your peace.”

An Allegory

I sat and fumed about the violence and wickedness in the world. I was angry and afraid and I felt hatred for those who created such havoc.

Somehow, at some point, I began to realize that my anger, hatred and fear were part of the problem.

I thought I heard a voice say:

“Do you love as I love? Or is hatred your response to my love for you and for everyone I have created–even for those who do evil and for those whom you have hated?”

Then, I had to admit that utter folly was my self-righteous judgment of others.

“Lord, my God, have mercy on me!”

The comforting whisper came again:

“I love you.” Then:

“I want you to bring my love to others.”

I balked:

“I cannot. I am not wise enough, not learned enough. And besides, I am a sinner.”

Then there was a grave, deep and still silence. I longed to hear God speak to me. So, I began to pray, over and over again:

“Please Lord, help me. Direct me. Save me.”

At last the Lord said:

“It is so easy to help others come to me. Just love them as I love you. Live for them, work for them, die to self for them—and for me.

“As I have so clearly said, the one who keeps his life will lose it; the one who loses his life for my sake will keep it.”

I asked:

“Dear God, How can I share my faith in my own home, with my neighbors?

“They know the real me.

“How can I, a sinner, share your love?”

The Lord of salvation said:

“I love you. I have redeemed you, as well as those who do harm to others.

“You belong right where you are among family, friends and coworkers.

“I am with you. Do not fear and wonder what to say. The Spirit will tell you what to say.”

Once again, in blessed silence, came the Great Truth:

“The Lord God is with me!”

Now, I no longer suffer that lonely silence.

I hear him in the cry of the poor, the groans of the imprisoned, the voices of my wife, children and friends.

I hear him in the Scriptures and the moans of the sick.

I hear him in the gurgling laughter of toddlers.

Now, I know:

“Where I am, he is, and where he is, I am also meant to be.”

Today, I pray with great joy,

“Oh Lord, my God, I do love you!”

The Holy Spirit caresses my heart and soothes my soul.

“Divine Mercy, I trust in you!”

Oh, blessed peace!

The Holy Whisper came again:

“Wonderful, is it not? But you have only tasted the beauty of my love. You will thirst for more. And there is so much more—so much more.”

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In Search of Peace

4 Feb

 

005

 All-powerful and ever-loving God, direct your love that is within us, that our efforts in the name of your Son may bring mankind to unity and peace.[i]

I cringed when I read these lines in the breviary during Morning Prayer. Perhaps you are not plagued, as I am, with a tendency to fly off the handle when I feel threatened. For example, I feel both dread and fear when I see national “leaders” vying for supremacy, and fostering angst, insecurity and division. I am now old, but I fear for our family—children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  

This fear is unreasonable in the light of faith.

When the light begins to shine on the man who sat in darkness and the shadow of death, in the darkness of evil and the shadow of sin, he is shocked, he calls himself to account, repents of his misdeeds in shame, and says: The Lord is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear? … Even though the dark shadows of evil suggestions crowd about, the Lord is my light.[ii]

If I am afraid and filled with anger and fear, how can I foster peace and unity?

How I wish I had the courage and faith of those who can see “this mess” and still remain totally at peace.

Maybe, instead of wishing, I need to pray more. But I do pray. Why this restlessness within me—a restlessness that is part zeal for the mission of Christ, part impatience and a feeling of helplessness?

Yes, zeal. For the Gospel of the Lord and the entire history of salvation excite me in the depths of my soul.

And yes, I feel impatience, because the needs of the Church and society in general are so urgent. And in spite of the urgency, so many people seem to be oblivious of their ability to change things with God’s guidance and help.

And I often feel helpless because of the enormity of the challenge and my sense of finiteness and weakness as I face the challenge before us.

And here we go!

Is it not pride that fuels my impatience and feelings of helplessness?

Is my impatience not rooted in a sense that it’s up to me to be the knight on the white charger going into battle to save the day? And does this pride suffocate the truth that each and every one of us is graced by God as we suffer together the pressures of each day?

And do I have a pure zeal for the Gospel? Am I truly motivated by a pure desire for the conversion of the world to God, or is it in part the personal satisfaction I experience when others recognize me—or when I praise myself?

Maybe, just maybe, I am crossing the threshold of peace.

[i] Liturgy of the Hours Book III, from prayer on pg. 131, Catholic Book Publishers, New York, 1976.

[ii]Ibid, pg. 128,  John the Serene, Bishop