Spirit of Love and Peace

“Love” and “peace”, words so fashionable in contemporary culture, but whose real meaning is so little understood… This Sunday’s Gospel will reveal the marvels these concepts encompass, and show us just how far today’s world has strayed from them.

Gospel of the 6th Sunday of Easter

Jesus said to His disciples: 23 “Whoever loves Me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our dwelling with him. 24 Whoever does not love Me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent Me. 25 I have told you this while I am with you. 26 The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. 28 You heard Me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe” (Jn 14:23-29).

I – Two Concepts Sullied by the Revolution

The hippy movement erupted in the 1960s like a giant volcano of pus, irrepressibly spreading its infectious, fetid lava throughout the world and propelling Western society into moral self-dissolution by the imposition of a deliriant and chaotic mentality. Fashion, music, educational standards, ambiences, tastes – in short, culture in general – drastically declined worldwide, all without a single drop of bloodshed.

One of the slogans adopted by the mentors of this flourishing revolution was “peace and love, a sinister parody of the motto “pax et bonum1 of the seraphic St. Francis of Assisi. Almost imperceptibly, peace began to be identified with the mere absence of armed conflict and the pseudo-tranquillity brought on by stupefacients, and love was associated with unbridled libertinism, which demonstrated just how far removed this generation is from the Poverello’s motto.

The excesses of this nebulous but omnipresent revolution shocked public opinion somewhat at its first explosion, but nowadays it imposes itself by leaps and bounds and no one raises his voice to alert unwary spirits. The latter end up allowing themselves to be swept along, albeit with a certain reticence, by its filthy and seductive torrent. Few perceive the ending point of this slippery ramp, which leads to doctrinal relativism, to complete social decadence, and to a more or less conscious consonance with ugliness and with psychological and moral decay.

In the face of this reality, the Gospel for the Sixth Sunday of Easter displays the power of a divine exorcism, capable of dispersing the mephitic winds of a revolution that pervades the most varied environments. Indeed, to restore the true meaning of the words peace and love means to raise aloft God’s banner with gallantry, enthusiasm and strength. It is necessary, then, to newly manifest to mankind, partly rendered apathetic by today’s evils, the splendour of the authentic order of things, which the father of lies wants to obscure.

II – Peace and Love in the Light of Truth

The passage selected by the Sacred Liturgy for this Sunday is situated within the Lord’s farewell discourse at the Last Supper in the Cenacle. The imminence of His dramatic separation from His own, as well as the prospect of the Passion and Resurrection, lend special density to the Master’s words, and fill the atmosphere with an imponderable of sorrow and hope. These are poorly interpreted by the disciples, bewildered by contrasting feelings of fear and astonishment. The virtue of faith was still frail in their souls. For this reason, the Good Shepherd opens His Heart, pouring torrents of affection, wisdom and serenity upon them so as to comfort them.

In the light of Tradition and of the new inspirations of the Comforter, we can also discover vast horizons for our faith in these verses of St. John. They offer us a sure guide to establish God’s Kingdom on earth, made entirely of peace and love – a Reign promised by Our Lady at Fatima and in other private revelations approved by the Church.

The Last Supper – Parish of Our Lady of Glory, Juiz de Fora (Brazil)

God’s interior manifestation

Jesus said to His disciples: 23 “Whoever loves Me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”

This sublime affirmation of Our Lord is intended to answer a question St. Jude Thaddeus had posed: “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” (Jn 14:22). To understand the Apostle’s question, we must recall the prophecy Jesus made in the preceding verses: “Yet a little while, and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in Me, and I in you.  He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (Jn 14:19-21).

In using the term world, Jesus particularly refers to the chosen people tarnished by the sin of deicide. After the Passion, they would never see Him again because He would, in some wise, be dead. However, the disciples would encounter Him again, according to the Master’s promise: “I live; you will live.” Even if they came to waver in their faith at the supreme hour of the Crucifixion, these followers would live of the good news of the Resurrection.

By acting in this way, Our Lord was countering the pompous concept of an excessively earthly messianic era, in which certain prophecies that predicted the political and economic primacy of Israel over other peoples would be fulfilled to the letter and not in their spiritual sense. If Jesus would only be seen by His own after the definitive victory over death, how would He establish the empire they had long dreamt of, that would raise Jerusalem to glory’s summit?

Now, what lay in store for the disciples was the unspeakable gift of receiving Our Lord’s manifestation in their inmost souls, a mystery that completely escaped St. Jude and the other Apostles. Only after the coming of the Holy Spirit would they understand the secret hidden in those words of wisdom which struck them as incomprehensible. Yes, the Redeemer would communicate with those who loved Him and obeyed His commandments, but in an interior and hidden way.

This is the true scope of Jesus’ statement: “Whoever loves Me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” It is the most precise formulation of a reality that fills us with wonder and makes us tremble: the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity.

In fact, God chooses our heart as His abode, establishing Himself in it with infinite affection, like a continuous stream that pours rivers of divine fire upon us. This love, which will reach its fullness in Heaven, progresses on earth in the measure that we empty ourselves of self and make room within us for the Three who are One. This gift is so real and so sublime that there are no words sufficient to thank the Most High for lowering Himself and taking delight in remaining, as Father and friend, in each of His adopted children.

This is also a good time to remember that when we commit a mortal sin, we idolize ourselves or creatures and brutally expel this divine presence, which should be our one great love. This being so, we can better understand why man merits hell for only one grave fault.

The world does not love because it does not keep the word

24 “Whoever does not love Me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent Me.”

In these two sentences Our Lord explains to St. Jude why He will not manifest Himself to the world: because of the absence of love and obedience. Whoever fails to love, fails to keep the word of Jesus, which is equivalent to saying that it is impossible to have true affection for the heavenly Father without fulfilling His divine Commandments. This is a fundamental truth of our Faith, cunningly attacked by relativism in our day. The word of God stands forever and no one will ever enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless he bows resolutely before the sovereign will of the Lord of hosts, who has the right to be heard and obeyed.

Thus, in today’s Gospel, the term world also indicates the sad multitude generally led by corrupt elites, opposing the authority of the Most High by shielding itself with inconsistent sophisms. That multitude will be excluded from the most beautiful manifestation of the Son of God: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me” (Rv 3:20).

Let us strive to live in the state of grace and make the Trinitarian presence the most valuable treasure of our existence!

The Blessed Trinity, “The Grandes
Heures” of Anne of Brittany – National Library of France, Paris

The Word speaks and the Spirit teaches

25 “I have told you this while I am with you. 26 The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”

Proceeding from the Father and the Son as the bond of union between them, the Holy Spirit is an infinite flame of the purest and most vehement love, surpassing any human reckoning. The sun is but a pale flare in comparison with the Eternal Affection which unites the First Person of the Trinity to the Second. This love, in every way contrary to selfishness, consists in the turning of each of the Divine Persons toward the other two, in an élan of adoration, awe and enthusiasm without beginning or end. Hence true love is that which gives itself, and not that which seeks only to receive in order to satisfy base and individualistic desires, as the current ideology of torpidness and depravity proclaims.

The Holy Trinity, as is well known, always acts out of love and in perfect concomitance; the Three are inseparable in the economy of salvation. However, so that we might better understand the diversity of the Divine Persons, their interventions bear a Trinitarian mark. For example, every man or woman is capable of three loves: filial, conjugal and paternal or maternal. Moreover, adapting Himself to us with extreme compassion, the Triune God ensures that in certain actions, termed ad extra, the “timbre” of one Person is more perceptible than that of the other two. Thus, creation is generally attributed to the Father; redemption, to the Son; sanctification, to the Holy Spirit.

Wishing to instruct the Apostles about the Holy Spirit’s existence and mode of acting, Our Lord explains its specific feature of predisposing souls to not only hear, but also to guard the remembrance of the precious teachings and prophecies of the Word Incarnate. For this reason, the word spoken by the Son will never be seriously and attentively received without the aid of the Paraclete.

More than anyone else, Our Lord knew the role of grace of the Holy Spirit in the sanctification of the faithful, which consists in perfecting all of the virtues under the aegis of charity and the gift of wisdom. For this reason, He declares that He “told” the Apostles all that concerned His future interior revelation, while the Advocate “will teach” it. The difference between saying and teaching is easily understood. In the first case, something is transmitted, but with the risk of being forgotten; in the second, the spoken word is efficaciously fixed in memory and heart, as it was with Our Lady, the most faithful Spouse of the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity (cf. Lk 2:51).

This is a lesson for those dedicated to apostolic labours. If they do not rely on supernatural help, their work will be a failure from beginning to end. In contrast, under the blessed light of the Comforter, all will germinate, flourish and bear abundant fruit. Hence arises the pressing need to avoid putting our trust in human means and methods, relying on grace instead, without which nothing can be achieved.

The glory of the Holy Spirit – Museum of Sacred Art, Rio de Janeiro

The peace of Christ

27a “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.”

The Spirit of the Father and of the Son is called Love. And the fruit of love is peace. For this reason, Jesus says that He leaves us peace and gives us His peace. It is the Holy Spirit, as Gift, who inwardly sets people in order, with sights on God’s greater glory.

In agreement with St. Augustine,2 medieval writers define peace as the tranquillity of order, so that the right ordering of beings is the cause of that placid quietude we call peace. Now, for St. Thomas Aquinas,3 there are three kinds of order in man. The first comes from the harmony of his internal faculties, that is, the obedience of the sensibility to the reason, and reason to the Creator. The second consists in man’s peace with God. It is an interior harmony resulting from the serenity of an upright conscience, fully attuned to the Law of the Most High: “Great peace have those who love Thy Law” (Ps 119:165). Finally, the third form of order concerns our relationship with our neighbour, as the Apostle teaches in the Epistle to the Hebrews: “Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness” (12:14).

Among the factors that can disturb this peace is the dynamism of the evil passions, especially pride and sensuality, as Dr. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira teaches. In his turn, the Angelic Doctor affirms that for peace to exist, the sensitive part of the soul “must be immune to the molestations of the passions,”4 a bold goal for those who are subject to the clamorous effects of original sin…

We thus arrive at a simple conclusion: peace can only be maintained by continuous warfare against those principles that undermine order. This explains the Lord’s categorical declaration: “I have come not to bring peace, but a sword” (Mt 10:34) – peace being understood as the absence of conflict.

Therefore, we must have frequent recourse to prayer in order to control these insidious enemies, capable of hurling the faculties of our soul into excesses. And, obtaining heavenly aid, we must wage a relentless battle against ourselves through discipline. This virtue is quite forgotten by contemporary culture, characterized by “the spontaneity of primary reactions, without the control of the intelligence or the effective participation of the will; by the predominance of the fantasy and the ‘lived and felt experiences’ over the methodical analysis of reality: all of this stemming, to a large extent, from a pedagogy that nearly obliterates the role of logic and of the will’s true formation.”5

Medieval wisdom appreciated discipline and effectively promoted it, creating due conditions for the development of a culture permeated with the Gospel maxims. The illustrious abbot Hugh of Saint Victor expresses this well in one of his works: “Discipline is the leash of covetousness, the prison of evil desires, the bridle of carnality, the yoke of pride, and the fetter of wrath, which subdues intemperance, imprisons levity, and stifles all disordered movements of the mind and illicit appetites. […] Discipline restrains the impetus of all vices, and the more it represses bad exterior desires, the more the good interior desires are strengthened by it. Little by little, while the mark of virtue is imprinted on the mind by habit, the exterior composure of the body is preserved by discipline. […] This is to be observed in four main points: in the way of dressing, in the gestures, in the manner of speaking, and deportment at table.”6 Thus, upright customs and good manners become the safeguards of the peace of Christ.

It should be observed that the peace of Christ is clearly distinguished from the pseudo-peace of the world. St. Thomas7 explains that the peace of Saints differs from the peace of sinners in three respects. First of all, by intention. The peace of the worldly is geared towards the enjoyment of earthly goods, which are ephemeral and unstable, while that of the Blessed rests on eternal goods. It follows that the former is a fictitious tranquillity, since the children of the world, continually reproached by their own conscience, enjoy a peace that is merely exterior, while that of the children of God is both interior and exterior, since they have the affirmation of their conscience, the appreciation of the good and the love of the Father of Lights. Finally, worldly peace is imperfect because, in gratifying his passions, man makes himself worthy of condemnation to hell: “There is no peace for the wicked” (cf. Is 57:21). The peace of Christ, on the other hand, comes from the hope of possessing entire and everlasting bliss.

This clarifies the true meaning of the term peace and shows it to be light years away from the false concept promoted by the hippy subculture so widespread today.

Sword-bearing Christ – Sainte-Chapelle, Paris

Our invincible General is the Prince of Peace

27b “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. 28 You heard Me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. 29And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.”

The announcement of the Master’s departure filled the hearts of the Apostles with anxiety and fear – entirely human sentiments, but which nonetheless needed to be overcome by faith. The accuracy of the Divine Prophet’s prediction would be the seal of guarantee of His words and, to a great degree, the cause of the disciples’ fidelity.

Now, Our Lord also asks this faith of us.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace (cf. Is 9:5), our invincible General, the Horseman of the Apocalypse (cf. Rv 19) who commands the cohorts of the sons of light and disperses the enemies of order. He ascended into Heaven to be glorified by the Father in His most holy humanity, receiving power, dominion and irresistible strength. And, under these conditions, He will return in glory and majesty on the Day of Judgement. But, besides this, Our Lord returns each time we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar, where He becomes the Immolated Lamb, the absolute Lord of history, the most effectual Protector of His own, the Food of salvation. He is with us in the tabernacles and in the monstrance as a Prisoner of love, begging for the alms of our affection and our company. Fortified by His presence, we can overcome our vacillations and have our good resolutions confirmed, so that we may fight until death to establish true peace within and around us.

The peace of Christ has been transmitted to us and will prevail irrevocably, because the gift of God always wins. It is no coincidence that, at Fatima, the heavenly messenger who appeared to the shepherd children identified himself as the Angel of Peace, an appropriate name for the one who proceeded the apparitions in which the triumph of Jesus through Mary would be announced.

III – By Loving Love Itself, We will Have True Peace

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Mt 5:9). The seventh Beatitude promises the reward par excellence, since divine sonship is the most exalted grace that a rational being can receive. What could be more sublime? How can we measure the grandeur of being an effective and real member of the Trinitarian family? What dignity surpasses that of belonging to the divine lineage as a co-heir of Christ and a member of the assembly of Saints who cry out for ever and ever “Abba! Father!” (Gal 4:6)?

Nevertheless, to possess such a gift, we need to be peacemakers. What does this mean? From our reflection on the Gospel of the Sixth Sunday of Easter we can draw some useful conclusions for our spiritual life.

Being a peacemaker means living in love and obedience to God and keeping His wise Commandments. Thus, the peacemaker is primarily a fearless warrior, unbending and persistent, a soldier who never sheathes his sword but who stands guard, with neither lethargy nor laxity.

Indeed, how can we gain command of our rebellious passions without discipline? It is a chimera to think that the human heart is freed by unleashing its animal instincts. On the contrary, there is no slavery viler or more humiliating than that of concupiscence, as we see daily in a world where permissiveness hardly knows any limits. Clearly, we need to be energetic in brandishing the sword of observance.

Nor is it an easy task to submit our capricious will to reason enlightened by faith, or to bend our presumptuous intelligence before the light of the infinite wisdom that surpasses it. How much humility and determination are necessary to obtain true peace! And who can achieve this victory without the virtues of meekness and fortitude? Asceticism, spiritual exercise, and the constant and fierce struggle against our erroneous criteria and vices become indispensable.

Moreover, if we consider the seductions of a world mired in softness and sensuality, where will we find the strength to stand out from the crowd and raise the standard of idealism virtually alone? And added to this are the the temptations of the devil, our tireless and most resourceful enemy… Who, then, can be a peacemaker?

Pentecost – Trinità dei Monti Church, Rome

The solution, dear reader, is found in the title of this article. It is the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Love of the Father and of the Son, the divine Fire capable of consuming our miseries and enkindling the flame of pure love in us. Yes, only the grace of the Holy Spirit will transform pusillanimous people into indomitable combatants under the command of the Prince of Peace.

The Comforter will teach us the authentic meaning of love, which does not consist in the satisfaction of uncontrolled and self-interested instincts, but in the generous and total giving of self to God and to our brothers and sisters. Once inundated with holy charity, we will be able to renounce ourselves, oppose the spirit of the world and reject the perfidious suggestions of Belial. In this way, we will become true peacemakers, submitted to the Lord, true to our conscience and slaves of love to our neighbour.

Let us invoke the Divine Paraclete wholeheartedly and persistently, certain that our most clement Father will never deny His Spirit to anyone who suplicates Him. And let us implore the coming of a new Marian Pentecost, for it will be through Our Lady that this grace will be poured into our hearts.

Dr. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira expressed this yearning in a prayer he composed: “Most Holy Mary, beloved Daughter of God the Father, admirable Mother of God the Son, and most faithful Spouse of the Holy Spirit, we beseech Thee: obtain, notably from the Paraclete, that He breathe with all the majesty, strength, and heat of His grace upon men, today so subject to Satan’s empire, to his angels of perdition, and to his workers of iniquity spread throughout the earth. Thus, new wonders of God will be created and the face of the earth be renewed, an essential condition for thy maternal Reign over mankind to be authentic, radiant with glory and to endure throughout the ages.”

The Spirit of love and peace is our hope, our sole solution and our certainty of victory! 

 

Notes


1 From Latin: peace and goodness.

2 Cf. ST. AUGUSTINE. De civitate Dei. L.XIX, c.13, n.1. In: Obras. Madrid: BAC, 1958, t.XVII, p.1398.

3 Cf. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. Super Ioannem, c.XIV, lect.7.

4 Idem, ibidem.

5 CORRÊA DE OLIVEIRA, Plinio. Revolução e Contra-Revolução. 5.ed. São Paulo: Retornarei, 2002, p.75.

6 HUGH OF SAINT VICTOR. De institutione novitiorum, c.X: PL 176, 935.

7 Cf. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, op. cit., c.XIV, lect.7.

 

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