Peace is a beautiful condition of the human soul. Mankind longs for and strives to obtain it. Every human effort is dedicated to the goal of making it ours. Every thought, word and action exercised by each person is done so to accomplish emotional contentment. Wars are fought for it, love is sought for it, poems are wrought for it and Guardian Angels are beckoned for guidance and protection against that which seeks, in any way, to disrupt or lead us away from mental serenity. Yet for some reason, what we seek is rarely found.
Think deeply for a little: Why are we attracted to nature? Why do we watch television? Why do we insist on having conversations with others? Why do we exercise? Why do strive for education and money? Why do we vote in elections? Why, pray tell, do we do anything at all? The answer is simple: we seek peace. If anything of Heaven can be known, we can know that He is peace and all longing will be satisfied.
Alternatively, why do we get angry? Why do we envy? Why do we lust? Why do we accumulate possessions and why do we sometimes step on others to obtain them? Why do we gossip? Why do we hurt? We do we do bad things and why do we suffer bad things? The answer is simple: we seek peace. If anything of Hell can be known, we can know it is the absence of Him. We will be unable to know peace for eternity.
Why can we not have peace? The land of eternal youth, Tír na nÓg, evades us. That place of beauty, abundance and joy is ever on our minds yet rarely in our lives. Occasionally, it appears, but it is brief and fleeting. How is it so Ireland that we cannot rest? So many questions and yet the answer is simple: because we flee from peace. Human beings never find emotional peace because, although we think we are moving toward peace with our efforts, in actuality, we are running away from it. We may not even realize, but we make every effort to avoid the very thing we crave. Such a paradox is hard to grasp so let me explain.
If we are not running toward Him, we are moving away from Him. If we are not focused on Him, we are focused on something else. If God exists (and he does) what is the point of being focused on something else? What logic in the world can deny it? If we are created by God and we are not striving to be completely immersed in Him at every moment then we are seeking fulfillment in something that is not him. That something, apart from him, can bring no eternal peace. So what is the point?
Already at this stage of the article, half the people who began reading have now stopped. For some reason we are conditioned to immediately turn away or stop listening as soon as ‘God’ is mentioned. When you think about it, it is lunacy that something which is affiliated with eternal goodness can be such an aversion to people. How many times when sitting in the pew at Sunday Mass do people listen to an interesting tale told by the priest during the homily, then as soon as he begins linking the story to Jesus we switch off? Something about God makes people try to escape, mentally or physically. Why? The answer is simple: Although the perfection of God leads to peace, the demands of following God require us to recognize and amend the imperfections in ourselves and we see that as limiting, rather than liberating. We want the choice to live as we wish, not according to the wish of God. We think we can do it all without Him. We try so hard.
Fortunately for us, in this life, we cannot escape. He is always calling. Even those who are most lost are being called always and every person has this inner longing which pulls at them constantly. Some ignore it, some involve themselves in ever more activity and others get angry or envious or seek the aid of others through gossip and direct attacks against anything or anyone who represents that good God. Some rebel by insisting on doing the opposite of what he wills. People are not at peace and they seek to find peace by ignoring or fighting that which ultimately gives peace. It is insanity.
But the words of Saint Augustine resound like a gong through the ages:
“Despite everything, man, though but a small a part of your creation, wants to praise you. You yourself encourage him to delight in your praise, for you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you”
Why is seeking God so hard? Peace does not always mean we will be without suffering. The hardships of living are inevitable with God or without Him. We cannot avoid them forever. There is really only one choice. Embrace them and give them to Him in union with His sacrifice on the cross. United with His sufferings, our sufferings will lead only to one place – Resurrection and ultimate eternal peace in Him.
When we eat, sleep, play, interact, develop, love, fight or fall we should be experiencing all these phenomenon in Him, with Him and through Him. Apart from Him these actions are meaningless. We would not have them at all because they and we would not exist. What is the point of doing anything apart from Him?
When we eat do we consider that the food is given to us because of His Creation? When we learn a new skill or craft do we consider that the talents being developed by us could be used to glorify His Will? When we have time alone do we think of Him? When we have a conversation with another or in a group is our desire to talk about Him? When we go to Mass is our goal to worship Him or is there another reason motivating us like family tradition or social expectation? Our very desire, everything we do, think and say should be for Him. He leads to Heaven. If Heaven is what we want then we must become holy. There is no other way. We must turn to Him and embrace the life he wills for us. Every person was created for a great, unique and very personal mission. How long will we say ‘no’ to that mission? How long will we say ‘no’ to peace?
“Once I was at a dance with one of my sisters. While everybody was having a good time, my soul was experiencing deep torments. As I began to dance, I suddenly saw Jesus at my side, Jesus racked with pain, stripped of His clothing, all covered with wounds, who spoke these words to me: How long shall I put up with you and how long will you keep putting Me off?”
Saint Faustina of Divine Mercy
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