Peace Be With You

Dec 13, 2023 by Colleen C Orchanian

“Peace Be with You!”

We say it at every Mass, wishing peace to those around us. We all, I think, want to feel peace in our hearts. But how do we have that? And how do we help others find peace?

Peace is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, so true peace – supernatural peace – is a gift from God. Jesus said in John 14:27: Peace I leave with you. My own peace I give to you; a peace the world cannot give, this is My gift to you. God's peace is an interior peace. If you read the stories of martyrs, you will find that they died horrific deaths with great peace. St. Paul prayed for peace in all of his letters. His readers were in pretty dire straits, with much persecution and violence, and Paul prayed for peace. He didn’t pray that they not be killed or tortured. He prayed for peace. That shows the great value of the peace of God.

God wants to give us peace. The more peace we have, the more we reflect God’s peace in the world, and as Christians, we should always desire that. It’s not about acting like we have peace. It’s actually experiencing that peace of God in our hearts and souls. God offers it. We can take it or resist it.

Sometimes we accept false peace, which is not peace at all. For example, appeasement is not peace. Giving in to someone so they will leave us alone isn’t peace. (Bullies never leave you alone.) Silence is not peace. I can give you the silent treatment and we won’t be arguing, but that does not mean we are at peace. It’s more like a cease-fire.

On the other hand, we can be at peace with someone even when we disagree. I once had a conversation with a non-Catholic pastor about Catholic teachings and we disagreed, but our conversation was respectful. We were at peace even as we disagreed.

There are things that steal our peace – or try to. Three common peace stealers are:

  • Evils of the world. The devil is working hard in the world and we can see it very clearly: hate, mass murders, broken families, scandals in the church. It’s easy to lose my peace when I listen to the news. There were times when I spent a lot of time watching the news and reading political books. It did not bring me peace; quite the opposite. It stirred me up. It brought me down.

  • Personal relationships. There are some people in our lives that push our buttons – and not in a good way. Some of us – like me – want to fight. Others back away and avoid the conflict. Neither group is at peace.

  • Suffering. When we or someone we love are in pain, whether physical or emotional, we might lose our interior peace.

There are things we can do to experience the peace of God – and to regain it when the trials of the world becomes overwhelming. The most important action is prayer. Pray for peace. Peace in your heart and peace in the world.

A second action we can take is to get to know God better. If I know God, I can trust Him in all things. Scripture says He does not abandon us. He may allow us to lack money, health, or other things of this world, but never Himself. Romans 8:28 says that God uses all things for our good. We can ask: Do I trust Him? Do I believe that He is in charge of the world and has permitted (but not desired) these evils we experience? Do I believe that He knows what He’s doing? Do I believe that He can and will bring good out of evil? Do I believe that He loves me? When I am able to say yes to those questions, I can abandon myself to God. Interior peace comes from trust in God.

Our interior peace is important, and we need that before we can bring peace into a situation. Scripture instructs us to do just that:

Matthew 5:9 – Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Sometimes we’re not peacemakers. We may even stir the pot and make things worse. When you’re in a conflict, pray for wisdom to know how to bring peace into that situation, how to bring Christ’s peace to those involved.

Romans 12:18 – If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. This doesn’t mean that we become doormats so everyone likes us. But it does mean that we should be kind and charitable. I was once on the receiving end of a great rant. There was nothing I could say or do to calm the other person. There came a point where I knew it was not possible, but I did try and that’s what God expects of us.

Romans 14:19 – So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. This passage reminds us that we are called to build up our brothers and sisters in the faith. One of the great blessings for me as a spiritual director is when I am able to bring peace to someone who is struggling spiritually with a difficult situation. Of course, that’s actually the work of the Holy Spirit and I’m just the lucky instrument who gets to be part of His plan. But you don’t have to be a spiritual director to help others find peace in difficult times. Paul tells us to always strive for that.

As I meditated on this topic of peace, I heard a gentle rebuke in a quote from St. Josemaria Escriva. He said, “That we try to bring peace to those that hate us.” I realized that I have often been blessed with interior peace in difficult moments, and I am grateful. I am pretty good at finding and maintaining my own peace. When I get stressed, I know to stop, slow down, pray, breathe. So I’m taking care of myself. But God is calling me to more – to help bring peace to others. I had not considered that I have a calling to bring peace into the difficult moments that others are facing, especially when I’m personally involved in that difficulty. That’s a little scary because I don’t know how to do it. What I do know is that God is with me, and with God, all things are possible. I just have to remember to ask for help and let Him guide my words and actions.

Peace be with you! What a wonderful blessing to offer another person. May our words in that blessing be reflected in our actions. May we be the peacemakers who are called sons and daughters of God.

Questions for prayer:

  • How is your interior peace? What disrupts that peace and why?

  • Are there situations or relationships that you are called to be a peacemaker? How might you do that?