Peace in Troubled Times

09-19-2021Letter from the PastorFr. Don Kline, V.F.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Peace and Joy in Our Lord Jesus Christ!

In John’s Gospel, Chapter 14, Jesus gives us a great gift. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

For many people, peace means the absence of conflict or trouble. While this is certainly a definition of peace, it’s not what Jesus was talking about. The peace that Jesus was talking about means rest, quiet or a stillness in your heart despite the world around us.

This peace pushes through all the disturbing circumstances that life can throw at us. It gives us the ability to be calm even in the face of turmoil like we face in our modern world. It’s not a good luck charm that eliminates trouble. Rather, peace that is from God gives us the ability to endure life’s struggles without losing your mind! Real peace is an inner confidence that God is with you in every situation. God’s peace removes fear and worry and replaces it with an inner strength and conviction that all will be well because God will never leave you to face the perils of life alone.

Modern day troubles in Afghanistan, Haiti, and in our national politics can leave us bewildered as we search for a safe haven—like under a rock! Father Walter Ciszek, S.J comes to mind for me during those thoughts of wanting to flee from it all. Imprisoned in the Soviet prison system for preaching the Good News, he came to the conviction that despite his horrible circumstances, he was exactly where he was supposed to be for the salvation of souls. And so, he bloomed where he was planted. Despite everything, he was at peace. Saints tend to rise up when everything else seems to be falling apart.

Our modern world has mastered pulling us back into the fray and away from Jesus’ peace. Trouble that is often beyond us is thrust into our faces through constant news loops and social media feeds. It seems like we need to tune out the world for a time. Even if you are a news junkie like me, I need to take a break. I also look for solid Catholic world commentaries that allow me to contextualize what is happening around me.

When the weather is a bit cooler, I like to take a long walk with my rosary in hand. I find it soothes my soul and gives me perspective. There is something about pounding the pavement that serves as a correction to what troubles me and I realize once again that I cannot save the world around me.

People tell me all the time, “Father, I don’t know how you do it.” Trust me, God is the one doing all the heavy lifting. God gives me the strength to be who He created me to be. I also surround myself with healthy friends who help to keep me grounded and rooted in Christ. I also find that humor helps to keep things in perspective. I have friends who love to tell goofy stories and share silly memes. They make me laugh and keep things light when they see I need to decompress and unwind. I am also blessed with a wonderful family that has always shown me how to love… and laugh at myself.

It’s also necessary to surrender to God and place our lives in His merciful hands. Without fail, this prompts me to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Handing our worries over to Jesus brings peace of mind and releases us from feeling that it’s on us to fix everything. I recall Pope John XXIII’s bedtime prayer often during times of stress. Under the enormous pressure of the papacy in the modern world, he would pray, “I'm going to bed. It's your Church. Take care of it!”

“Let nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you, all things are passing, God is unchanging. Patience gains all; nothing is lacking to those who have God: God alone is sufficient.” - St. Teresa of Avila