Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God. – Matthew 5:9
Once again, this beatitude is related to the ones that come before it, because purity, mercy, and justice all promote peace. Peace is what you experience when everything is in proper order. You have peace within yourself when your mind and soul in properly ordered. There is peace between people when their relationship is properly ordered. Peacemakers, therefore, are people who work to bring about his order. We know that we will not achieve that perfect peace in this life, either within ourselves or in the world, because sin damages or destroys peace, but we can, and should, work towards it. So, how can we be peacemakers?
As St. Jerome said, “The peacemakers are pronounced blessed, they namely who make peace first within their own hearts, then between brethren at variance. For what avails it to make peace between others, while in your own heart are wars of rebellious vices.” Entire libraries worth of books have been written about the interior life and how we can have peace in our hearts, but there is one thing that is absolutely necessary. In the Gospel of Luke (10:38-42), the Lord goes to visit Martha and Mary, and Mary sits at the Lord’s feet listening to Him, while Martha “was continually busying herself with serving,” so Martha asks the Lord to tell Mary to help her. What Martha is doing, serving her guests and being hospitable, is good, but Mary has “chosen the better part.” The Lord says that “only one thing is necessary,” and that is prayer, or listening to the Lord. We must practice silence. Find a quiet place with few, or no, distractions, silence your phone, turn off the tv, get away from people, and clear your mind of every concern. Focus your attention on the Lord by reading the Bible, thinking about the mysteries of God, such as the birth of Jesus, His teachings, or His Passion and Resurrection, or looking at a sacred image. This will allow you to take a step back from your life and see things from God’s perspective. This is the unum necessarium, the one thing necessary, to take some time each day to silence yourself and listen to the Lord.
A quote from St. Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea says, “The peacemakers with others are not only those who reconcile enemies, but those who unmindful of wrongs cultivate peace.” We can promote peace with others by reconciling enemies and by forgiving others. How many friends and family members are separated from one another by petty grievances and long-forgotten arguments. We often demand that the other person be the one to come to us, to ask us for forgiveness, but are we willing to humble ourselves, admit to the part of the blame that we share, and take the first step towards reconciliation? We can’t force someone to reconcile with us, but we can at least do our part.
How can we bring peace to those who are at war, by which I mean those who are actively trying to hurt one another? Think of the example of St. Elizabeth of Portugal, Queen of Portugal. She prepared unceasingly for the king and her family. When her son, Prince Affonso, rebelled against King Diniz, St. Elizabeth rode out onto the battlefield between the two armies and reconciled father and son, ending the war. After the King died, she gave her property to the poor, became a Franciscan, and moved to the monastery of Poor Clares at Coimbra. When her son, King Affonso IV, went to war with the King of Castile to punish him for being a negligent and abusive husband to King Affonso’s daughter, Queen Elizabeth once again rode onto the battlefield to reconcile her family and prevent bloodshed. That is why St. Elizabeth of Portugal is the patron saint of peace to be invoked particularly in time of war.
Fr. Bryan was pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes from July 3, 2017 to June 2022.