My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in our Risen Savior,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!
PURSUING INNER PEACE
The holy Apostle Paul speaking to the Philippians and to all followers of Our Risen Lord, that the "peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ" (Philippians 4:7).
Essential to the foundation of our spiritual life is inner peace. Inner peace or stillness is to be aware always of the presence of God deep in our hearts. We must never lose sight of the fact that His presence there is real and, therefore, when we offer our spiritual prayer to Him from our hearts we encounter God in the depths of our soul. The spiritual fruit of this experience is the profound inner peace that brings us the desired comfort and renewed hope.
The Orthodox Christian understands that prayer is one of the most important spiritual activities to acquire inner peace. It is also important that once we acquire inner peace through prayer and stillness, that we then learn how to keep it pure and to preserve it intact. Jesus reminds us: "Peace I leave to you; … not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (St. John 14:7). God’s peace is His gift to us including His grace.
In the Divine Liturgy, we petition our Lord constantly for peace: In peace let us pray to the Lord. For the peace from above, and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord. For the peace of the whole world, the stability of the holy Churches of God, and for the union of all mankind, let us pray to the Lord. For the whole day, that it may be perfect, holy, peaceful, and sinless, let ask of the Lord. An Angel of peace, a faithful guide, a guardian of our souls and bodies, let us ask of the Lord. Christian ends to our life, painless, blameless, peaceful, and of good defense before the fearful Judgment Seat of Christ, let us ask of the Lord. And frequently the priest blesses the faithful by saying, Peace be to all and people respond by saying, And to your spirit… Saint Sophrony speaking of prayer, said, "prayer affords the experience of spiritual liberty of which most people are ignorant. The first sign of emancipation and disinclination to impose one’s will on others. The second is an inner release from the hold of others on oneself." Each time we pray, we are taking on the peace of God which gives us the necessary balance we need to attain communion with our Creator.
In our quest for inner peace, we must surrender our thoughts, emotions, worldly plans, social activities, personal issues and submit them to His Divine Presence. By surrendering our ego, and our pride that clouds our judgment, our hearts are then set free of all unnecessary interference with the dialogue which ensues with our Savior.
The preservation of the peace that comes from God is of the utmost importance. We need to be careful and cautious about what we expose ourselves to. The secular world and society in which we live have poisoned and polluted our lives with a new addiction and dependency. Without a doubt, we have all become dependent on social media to inform us of everything. In turn, it has used this opportunity to control our minds and our decisions. In addition through their negative and distorted reporting, they create stress, anxiety and therefore destroy our inner peace and tranquility. As part of our effort in maintaining our Lord’s peace, we must turn our attention to Him and seek His Divine wisdom.
Our Ever-Merciful God Who wants what is good and holy for us, offers His peace to all. It is up to each one of us to trust in God rather than the secular and unbelieving world. A world filled with constant noise and unbearable sounds to human ears. Sounds that hurt our senses, our ability to concentrate and think clearly, and certainly hurt and damage our inner and God-given peace. Our Lord always spoke softly and lovingly. Those who gathered to hear Him left with the sweet sound of His Divine voice echoing not only in their ears, but their hearts, and granted them a sense of profound peace and spiritual healing.
Sins can produce inner unrest and constant anxiety that only repentance and confession can remedy. The Sacrament of Repentance/Confession is a healing sacrament. It is through this Mystery that the Orthodox Christian finds not only God’s forgiveness but the restoration of inner peace and strength. As we know, and believe, our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Heavenly Physician, is the One Who brings healing to our souls and bodies. Those who remain unrepentant and resit God’s forgiveness and grace deprive themselves of spiritual health that leads to salvation.
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have
peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good
cheer, I have overcome the world" (St. John 16:33).
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George