Sunday, 24 August 2014

Seventh Beatitude: Blessed are the Peacemakers

 

 
Those of us who have managed to struggle up the steep slope of the Mountain of the Beatitudes to this penultimate stage will have achieved the qualities needed to become true peacemakers.
 
The first three stages will have made us capable of disciplining and controlling our demands and desires to free us from all worldliness, an extremely difficult thing to do these days. Then we become more fully capable of seeking God's righteousness and will in the world that surrounds us by enacting the many acts of mercy to so many unfortunate sinners and sufferers. Then through enormous effort, with the help of God, we progressively remove the remaining dross from our souls which inhibit us so that the debit due to God's justice is paid back before we reach purgatory in the next life. Progress results in us being increasingly capable of contemplating God without that blindness which prevents us from discerning the ways of God.
 
We have now reached the stage of being governed by God's Law of Perfect Purity which forbids all impurity of intentions and perversity of action, thereby activating the soul by removing the clouds which blind it and opening up to it new and immense fields of action through which the practice of mercy is manifest. As a consequence such purity is followed within its wake the virtues of peace, security and true freedom.
 
Leaders of and in the world and their peace-brokers can be but non-starters in peace making and indeed are not just a waste of time but exceedingly dangerous, blindly meddling, driven by their own interior uncleanness, hidden motives and un-Godliness. For without God they can do nothing and in general make matters worse. We might well ask did these people undergo the long process of interior training, practice of many virtues involving tremendous effort and steely resolute self-discipline coupled with being strengthened by the Eucharist and closeness with God in prayer? Indeed have they succeeded in winning the peace of their own heart and soul?




 
Nothing short of purity can permit a person to be a true peacemaker, without passion and self-interest, prejudices, especially the deeply buried ones, narrowness of mind, rigidity of character and all that would in any way detract from active and energetic charity upon which true peace depends. A peace which keeps in tranquil order and perfect harmony elements, which left to themselves, may adversely interfere with one another so that the forces released cause shocks and harmful collisions. The worldly "peacemaker" - the world is saturated with them - is incapable of creating conditions in which conflicting elements or parties or forces are capable of working smoothly together with perfect balance. The world today knows only one way of maintaining "peace" and that is through guns, aircraft, drones and rockets or through the nuclear threat: the United Nations stands as a monument to failed peacemaking.



 
Peacemakers must be capable of ruling themselves in absolute peace, being masters of themselves so as to keep peace with neighbours and then being capable of taking on the office of reconciling conflicts even to the point of spreading peace throughout the world. Making peace not as the Romans did and governments do today by force of arms which enforce their particular laws, agenda and culture. Instead the peacemaker cures the diseases of the soul, removing from it the deep roots of conflict.



 
Has force of arms provided peace within the Middle East or are we now reaping the benefits of bungling ineptitude with the emergence of ISIS? Are we facing the just war situation because of this demonic threat? What would a peacemaker do with such evil that thrives on spreading evil in increasingly innovative, barbaric ways which take us back to the pagan world prior to Christianity? Perhaps we are faced with a mission of world prayer to God for His help and through Our Lady fight another battle of Lepanto? When ISIS then sues for peace, then is the time to avoid all retribution and to resolve the issues allowing peace to prevail. Only a true peacemaker can advise us what we should do.
 
So let us now examine ourselves and our lives. Anything that is strained and exaggerated in our relations with others causing discord has to be removed: exceeding our rights and abusing others physically or mentally, especially children and the sensitive or vulnerable, being a tyrant over our spouse or children or as an employer or manager over employees, if having political power using this harshly and selfishly generating conflicts and having preconceived racial, religious or personality models which discolour our perception and limit good amicable relations with others. People are always awkward and difficult to live with: we are too! This is no excuse to prevent us from trying, for to do so our rewards will far exceed our meagre efforts.



 
Anything we can do to soften manners and introduce more just, equitable, charitable relations in our families, at work, among our neighbours and contacts is the work of a peacemaker. We could make a firm resolution to master the practice of cordiality in all that we do. This is probably a more indirect way of being a peace maker brought about by our way of living rather than direct interventions to bring about peace with our enemies of conflicting parties. Unfortunately it takes two to dance and peacemaking does fail because the other party or parties are stubborn in their self-righteousness or evil ways. Then this has to be left to God to resolve alone rather than with us as His instruments.



 
We Catholics should all be peacemakers. It is our mission to reconcile others to God and their consciences so as to achieve peace of soul and utilise the means of grace. We should be peacemakers because by our lives, practices or work we should be teaching the truths which remove the restlessness from people who are always failing to solve the problems in their lives and their world, peering into the darkness hiding the mysteries of the past and the future. By bringing them into the true light they come to more accept their lot as God given by their gaining an understanding about that which appears at first sight unjust and hard, and so soften the blows of adversity. By coming to rely more on God and understanding His ways more readily accepting pain, misery, bereavement, afflictions in a spirit of penance and resignation to the Will of God, and by calming gloomy or rebellious anticipation or expectation of the future, so feared by unbelievers and sceptics, opens the mind of true Christians to the rewards due to them in the next life following the cross of Christ.
 
We all have the duty and blessings to be the messengers and propagators of peace around us by our example and whatever influences granted to us.



 
Today the media aids and abets us to commit grave sins of detraction by enticing us to take onto ourselves the unlawful assumption of the right to judge and condemn others or accepting the trials and condemning as guilty by the media without questioning their right to do this. In fact this right of judging and condemning belongs to God alone and therefore detraction is a distinct violation of the Law of Peace and we must always be aware of the unhealthy media influences to bypass the principle embedded in the laws of our country; "Innocent until proven guilty".
 
When expressing in words to others our unkind thoughts, uncharitable judgements, evil wishes or malicious desires we by influencing them sin grievously against peace and our neighbour. Instead we must foster and preserve peace in our lives and those around us and to do so we need to practice truthfulness, faithfulness, the keeping of secrets, hospitality and charity to all. The keeping of state secrets by the Bletchley Park code-breakers was such that that married parties who had worked there did not violate their vow and even discuss their work with each other. How much of this is missing today and we dare to wonder why peace is such a rare thing to find.
 
As Catholics we are bound to avoid schismatic or heretical disobedience to the Church. Disobedience to the Magisterium is one of the most worrying and serious mortal sins prevalent within the Church today: God loathes disobedience of any form no matter how small. Rather than disobey we should always obey the Fathers of the Church, especially the Pope of the day. To do otherwise is to forfeit our salvation.



 
God attaches enormous importance to the virtue of obedience and, as history so often highlights, disobedience is the most vicious of sins causing turmoil, conflict, schism and great suffering in the world.





God is sorely provoked by disobedience to His Laws and the excuse too often given, "God understands" cuts no ice with Him, and to these Laws He sets over each one of us, answerable to Him alone for our stewardship, He expects total adherence. Our reward as a true peacemaker may be to face the same forces which slayed Jesus Christ who came to bring peace in this troubled world.



 
Should we come face to face with evil such as ISIS we have to decide whether to capitulate, compromise, fight or flight. As a Catholic under such persecution we have a further option to die for the Faith should God will it or on the other hand to flee as Our Lady and St Joseph were advised to do. Under the right circumstances dictated by God we may have to stand and fight, with the graces and means provided as in the Battle of Lepanto. This leads us to the final Beatitude of Persecution which will be discussed in due course. May the Peace of God be with you and go with you all!


 
 
References:

"The Life of Our Life - The Public Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ -
Preaching the Beatitudes", Henry James Coleridge, Burns and Oates, 1876.
"The Eight Beatitudes", George Chevrot, Sinag-tala, Manila, 1998