THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
9 June 2019
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We read in today's Gospel: "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid." St. Augustine says: "He [Jesus] said to them: In peace I leave you; in peace I shall find you. Going away from them, He wishes to give them what He desired to find in all men at His return. To His own He left this inheritance and foretold all the good things of His Promise, and the rewards of keeping peace. And therefore, Brethren, if we wish to be heirs of Christ, we must possess and abide in His peace. Christ has given us peace, as you have heard. He has commanded us to be at peace, and to be of one mind with one another. He has laid it upon us that we keep unbroken and inviolate the bonds of peace and of love."
Peace is a kind of trinity within us. If we have true peace, we are first at peace with God, next we are at peace with ourselves, and finally, we are at peace with our neighbors.
We are at peace with God when we love Him and keep His Word. When we are in transgression against the Laws of God and His Church we have broken with peace and disturbances of many and varied kinds enter into our lives as a kind of corrective punishment. We feel and understand this disturbance in our lives but are often unable (unwilling) to correct our lives so that we may return to true peace. There is a kind of false peace in sin (with the devils) as our consciences are dulled or deadened. There is truth in the saying: "the fastest way to get rid of temptations is to give into them." Temptations agitate us and disturb peace, but if we give in to them and sin against God the devils soon stop tempting us because they already have us. To be free of temptations is not true peace. On the contrary, we might consider that to be free of temptations is a sign that the devils are already sure of taking our souls with them into Hell. When we are in the state of grace temptations do not disturb true peace. These are resisted and patiently put up with for the Love of God and in imitation of Jesus. In this manner, temptations do not rob us of peace, but actually, help us increase or perfect true peace.
To be at peace with ourselves, we must be at peace with our consciences. We must seek to correctly instruct and form our consciences and then live in conformity with them. We must strive to avoid developing an overly scrupulous one as well as a dull or deadened one. The scrupulous soul finds peace always elusive as she sees sin and evil everywhere often confusing temptation with sin. The lax soul goes to the other extreme and makes peace with sin often excusing herself into thinking that actual sins are nothing, or are mere temptations. Virtue and truth are in the middle of these two extremes. It is best to consider ourselves from outside of ourselves objectively rather than subjectively. How do I appear to God or in the eyes of God? What does God think of this or that? If we can be at peace with this honest judgment of things we find true peace with God and with ourselves. Even when we find that we have sinned, if we are truly sorry and repentant, peace is quickly restored to us. There is always great peace to be found in the Sacrament of Penance if we receive it well.
The third part of this trinity of peace is peace with our neighbor. Saint Augustine tells us: "Peace is to be observed only with the good, and with those who keep the commandments of God; not with the wicked, or with evil-doers; who are at peace with one another in their sins. The peace of Christ leads us to eternal salvation. The peace that belongs to the devil leads us to eternal damnation. We must ever be at peace with the just, and ever at war with evil: for we must forever hate the evil-doing of the wicked. For men themselves, even though they are wicked, must still be loved; for they are creatures of God. The peace therefore which is found in the good, joins brothers together in peace, neighbors in love for one another." We are to love all men (God's creatures) but we are to be opposed to (at war with) all evil doings. It is not an easy thing to love the sinner and hate the sin, but this is what we must ever strive for if we are to have true peace. As when we examine our own consciences and strive to be patient with ourselves in our transgressions, so we should strive to avoid being shocked by the sins of others. We as well as all other men are capable of all manner of evil unless we are sustained by the Grace of God. Many saints have given us the idea that there is no sin that any man has committed that we are not also capable of committing unless we are prevented by God's grace. While resisting and hating sin, we must not allow the love of our neighbor to escape us and thus rob us of true peace. We should as gently as possible admonish the sinner, and redouble our own prayers and sacrifices for his true conversion. This is the love that Jesus has shown us and this is the love that He demands we show to one another. When this love of Jesus lives within us His peace will also be with us. He has given us this peace we must now strive to keep or restore it in our lives in these three ways.
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