Why is it that the smallest inconvenience can set some people off while others maintain calm in the face of great adversity? What is the difference between those who know peace on earth, and those who don’t? The difference is in how they approach life and what they bring to it. These people possess a seemingly unshakable peace, stronger than life’s inevitable stresses. Here is a list of things that I see distinguishes them from most other people:
1. They live a sacramental life: They make time to frequently attend Mass and regularly go to confession. Many of them go to Adoration weekly.
2. They commit themselves to prayer no matter how busy they are: They all practice vocal prayer but then go a step beyond to a cultivation of a relationship with God through mental prayer and meditation.
3. They constantly engage in spiritual reading: This is not primarily an intellectual exercise but one where the content and the approach turn the heart and mind to God.
4. They give themselves to others: They frequently give their time, talent, and treasure to others.
5. They have a spiritual director: They understand that they need outside perspective and guidance to help them achieve all of the previously listed spiritual disciplines.
Now you might be thinking that these folks must all be either religious or priests. This is not the case. I know both laypeople and religious who know this peace.
If your experience is one that reflects an absence of peace, perhaps it’s not too early to think about a New Year’s resolution. To some even one of these practices might appear to be a huge hurdle. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step and a deeper spiritual life begins with doing the next thing, such as going to adoration, more Scripture reading, finding a spiritual director, or receiving the sacraments more often. It’s not a matter of adding everything all at once, but rather making a commitment to do more.
Spiritual direction is a way to discern the next step. In recent times, two of my friends began receiving spiritual direction. They’ve shared with me how it has helped them to dig deeper in their relationship with Christ. I too found a spiritual director and have also reviewed the book Navigating the Interior Life-Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God by Dan Burke. I know of no better resource on this topic and highly recommend it as a guide to understanding spiritual direction.
In the end, amid all the trappings of Christmas and culture, this season is about the Prince of Peace. The best way we can prepare for him is to cultivate more peace on our piece of the earth.
Art for this post Peace on Earth Requires Peace in Our Hearts: Colorized Angels Appear, artist unknown, from Isabella Macdonald Alden’s The Prince of Peace, c. 1890, PD-US published in the U.S. prior to January 1, 1923, Wikimedia Commons.