Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart
And how does one grow in this total confidence in God; how can we maintain and nourish it in ourselves? Certainly not only by intellectual speculation and theological considerations. They will never withstand the moments of trial. But by a contemplative gaze on Jesus.
To contemplate Jesus Who gives His life for us, nourishes us with “too great a love” that He expresses on the cross; that is what really inspires confidence. Would not the supreme proof of love – Greater love than this no man has than to lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13) – untiringly contemplated and captured in a gaze of love and faith, fortify our hearts little by little in an unshakable confidence?
What can one fear from a God who manifested His life in so evident a manner? How could He not be for us, completely, entirely and absolutely in our favor; how could He not do all things for us, this God, Friend of humankind, Who did not spare His only Son for us, even though we were sinners? And if God is for us, who could be against us (Romans 8:32)? If God is for us, what evil could possibly harm us? Thus, we see the absolute necessity of contemplation for growing in confidence.
Finally, too many people are distressed because they are not contemplatives. They do not take the time to nourish their own hearts and return them to peace by gazing with love on Jesus.
In order to resist fear and discouragement, it is necessary that through prayer – through a personal experience of God re-encountered, recognized and loved in prayer – we taste and see how good the Lord is (Psalm 34).
The certitudes that the habits of prayer inculcates in us are considerably stronger than those that flow from reasoning, even at the highest level of theology.
As the assaults of evil, thoughts of discouragement and distrust, are incessant, so, in the same manner and in order to resist them, must our prayers be incessant and untiring.
How many times has it happened that I went to make the daily hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament in a state of preoccupation or discouragement and, without anything particular having happened, without saying or feeling anything special, I would leave with a quieted heart.
The external situation was always the same, there were always problems to solve, but the heart had changed and, from then on, I could confront them peacefully. The Holy Spirit had performed its secret work.
One can never insist enough on the necessity of quiet, meditative prayer – the real source of interior peace. How can one abandon oneself to God and have confidence in Him if one only knows Him from a distance, by hearsay?
I had heard of You by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen You (Job 42:5).
The heart does not awaken to confidence until it awakens to love; we need to feel the gentleness and the tenderness of the Heart of Jesus. This cannot be obtained except by the habits of meditative prayer, by this tender repose in God which is contemplative.
Let us therefore learn to abandon ourselves, to have total confidence in God, in the big things as in the small, with the simplicity of little children.
And God will manifest His tenderness, His providence and His fidelity in a manner sometimes overwhelming. If God treats us at certain moments with an apparently great harshness, He also has an unexpected delicateness, of which only as tender and pure as His is capable.
At the end of his life, St. John of the Cross, en route to the convent where he would end his days – sick, exhausted, unable to continue – longed for some asparagus, like the asparagus he had eaten in his childhood. Near a rock where he sat to catch his breath, there was a bunch of asparagus, miraculously deposited.
In the midst of our trials, we can experience these delicacies of love. They are not reserved for the Saints. They are for all the poor who believe that God is their Father. They can be for us a powerful encouragement to abandon ourselves to His care, far more efficacious than any reasoning.
And I believe that this is the true response to the mystery of evil and suffering. It is not a philosophical response, but an existential one.
In abandoning myself to God, I experience in a concrete fashion that “it really works,” that God makes all things work together for my good, even evil, even suffering, even my own sins.
How many occasions that I dreaded, when they arrived, in the final analysis proved to be supportable, and finally beneficial, after the first impact of pain.
That which I believed to be working against me revealed itself to be to my benefit. Thus, I tell myself: that which God does for me in His infinite mercy, He must do for others also; in a mysterious and hidden manner, He must do it for the entire world.
It seems the very essence of Mary, so to speak, is to be simple, to perform the common, ordinary duties of a wife and a mother, and to love them. Her Heart ever craved after one thing, namely, to walk simply before God and to be perfect, whatever might be the circumstances or condition of her life.
-Mother Mary Potter
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