My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
OUR QUEST FOR INNER PEACE
"Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it" (Psalm 33[34).
In our quest to acquire inner peace, we become aware of the numerous challenges that we must first overcome. As with all spiritual struggles, this too is formidable but not impossible to attain by the grace of the Holy Spirit. The holy ascetics and desert fathers sought to find it through unceasing prayer, fasting, and away from the distractions of the world, in the wilderness, desert, and dens of the earth. However, even there, under immense hardships and attacks of the passions, the spiritual warfare against them continued as in the case of Saint Mary of Egypt.
It is most important to understand that without God we can do nothing. Together with God, we can do everything. Under God’s guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we are able to see beyond ourselves and our wants. Our communion with our Creator and Fashioner is of the utmost importance. There must be a realization that we are all sinful and unprepared to enter His Kingdom. There must be honest and sincere repentance and a sense of unworthiness, humility, spiritual renewal, conversion, cleansing, and our willingness to distance ourselves from all evil. To be willing to love and serve Him unconditionally. To overcome pride and ego and dedicate ourselves to the service of our neighbor and to always put others and their needs first.
To find that inner peace that we seek we need to first heal the break between us and God which we have caused through our sinful lifestyles and lack of faith and obedience to His commandments. Our soul has been starved spiritually by us through our distance from God’s grace. Our inner being is constantly seeking peace and reconciliation with our Savior Jesus Christ, but sadly it cannot find it. What is needed is to begin anew and search to find our Lord not in some unknown place but within our hearts. When He is found there, then and only then, can we find inner peace.
We all live in a materialistic world and a world that thrives on a constant acquisition of goods and looks to find emotional and carnal pleasure. The current idols of mankind are two, wealth, and pleasure. Humanity looks at the constant gratification and satisfaction of these two passions. We are more concerned about fulfilling our worldly ambitions instead of seeking salvation. How can a contemporary person find inner peace when his entire preoccupation in life is to achieve material wealth and security? It is up to us to reverse our earthly priorities and turn our attention to our immediate spiritual priorities.
People, but especially Christian people, must have their sights on our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ says to His disciples: "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" (John 16:33). With His help, we too, can "overcome the world," and find lasting peace in Him. Our life on earth is a temporary one for all of us will die one day, therefore, we should not place such importance on worldly things. Instead, let us set our sights on the Kingdom of God and life eternal in God’s presence and agape. God’s Heavenly Kingdom is a Kingdom of joy and peace.
We, Orthodox Christians, are always petitioning our God for peace in our worship. At the Divine Liturgy, we say, "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. " It is understood by the Orthodox Christian that we cannot pray honestly to our Savior God unless we are in peace. How else can we communicate with Him unless we have genuine peace? This is the reason why the first petition of the Divine Liturgy is for peace. Saint Ignatius states, "there is nothing more precious than peace." When we are in the presence of God at the Divine Liturgy, we cannot be in a state of turmoil and confusion, instead, we must assume a state of inner peace and calmness.
One of the enemies of peace is fear. When fear overtakes us it destroys our inner peace and without it we are unable to think clearly, to act appropriately, to feel properly. and pray to the Lord. Fear obstructs our entire life and paralyzes our very being. Instead of inner peace, we suffer inner turmoil and painful storm. Fear has no place within us! It must never be allowed to impact our lives to the point that we become disabled and direct us to hopelessness. Saint John Chrysostom, counsels us never to be hopeless, no matter how many our mistakes and sins are when we cleanse them with pious tears and with our deep spiritual pain. Peace of mind and the cure of the soul can be attained by the grace of the Holy Spirit and all fear is dispelled forever.
Saint Isaac the Syrian states, "No man has understanding if he is not humble, and he who lacks humility is devoid of understanding. No man is humble if he is not peaceful, and he who is not peaceful is not humble. And no man is peaceful without rejoicing. In all the paths upon which man journeys in this world they will find no peace until they draw near to hope in God. The heart finds no peace from toil and from stumbling blocks, until hope enters it, makes it peaceful, and pours joy into it. That worshipful and All-Holy mouth spoke of this when it said, " COME TO ME, ALL YOU WHO ARE WEARY AND BURDENED, AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST" (Matthew 11:28). Draw near, He says, and hope in Me, and find rest from labor and fear."
Saint Seraphim of Sarove said, "This is the peace of which the Lord said to His Disciples: "My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you (John 14:27). If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you (c.f. John 15:19). But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (c.f. Jon 15:33). And to those people whom this world hates but who are chosen by the Lord, the Lord gives that peace which you now feel within you, the peace which, in the words of the Apostles, passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). The Apostle describes it in this way, because it is impossible to express in words the spiritual well-being which it produces in those into whomse hearts the Lord God has infused it. Christ the Savior calls it a peace which comes from His own generosity and is not of this world, for no temporary earthly propsperity can give it to the human heart, it is granted from on high by the Lord God Himself, and that is why it is called the peace of God."
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God