The risen Jesus greeted the Apostles saying “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19). These aren’t only just words. At the moment of saying them the apostles experienced this peace. Being in Jesus’ company means experiencing of peace.
Nearly always the phrase “Peace be with you” is quoted when meetings of Christ and his disciples are given account of. Jesus wanted to emphasise that peace is given to them as a result of his death and resurrection, by which we can experience what Adam and Eve experienced in the paradise at the beginning.
The intimate relationship with the living Christ comprises the experience of divine love and merciful love and peace. The gift of peace is connected with experiencing the kingdom of heaven. The Bible says: “For it is not eating and drinking that make the kingdom of God, but the saving justice, the peace and the joy brought by the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17).
What is this kind of peace like? We notice that often we pray for the peace of the nations or families which are in conflict. In such situations peace is the opposite of war. When we ask God for such peace we desire the grace of God to incline people in conflict to stop quarrelling and to reach an agreement.
The peace granted by the risen Jesus is the peace of the heart. Although the disciples weren’t in conflict, Christ is saying to them “Peace be with you”. That peace is an inner experience, a gift of the Holy Spirit.
We find the requests for peace in the text of the Holy Mass. A celebrating priest prays: “Jesus Christ, you said to the apostles ‘I leave you peace, my peace I give’, look not at our sins but on the faith of your Church and grant us peace these days.” Before Holy Communion we sing “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world grant us your peace.” At the end of the Mass we hear the words: “Go in the peace of Christ.”
This peace is described in the Bible “The peace of God which is beyond our understanding will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7).
We may sense this peace in many moments of our lives. Sometimes we experience it during prayer, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, after receiving Holy Communion. But it is given not only for such moments but for all circumstances of our lives. It can be experienced as an inner power, serenity and as an ability to endure difficult situations. Experiencing this kind of peace is situated deeper than our thoughts, feelings and emotions. It is situated at the bottom of our hearts. We find it very deep inside us. We have it and feel it even in times of crisis and misfortune. It is present within us also when we have a sinking feeling. Despite all the difficulties we may experience it deeper than everything else.
Jesus was filled with this peace when he was being accused, judged in court and was dying on Calvary. Having a peaceful heart, he prayed for the cursing under his cross: “Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34).
In what way can we experience this peace? It is based on a true, intimate relationship with God. It comes from a pure heart and conscience free of sin; we get it after making confession. We should ask for this gift in our everyday prayer as we do at the Holy Mass. “Who asks, will be granted.” But what will it happen with those who don’t ask? Who doesn’t ask, won’t be granted unless others ask for him instead.
Therefore we should often ask for this divine peace for ourselves and for others. If there is such peace in my heart, I will be able to share it with others. If there isn’t, I will not be able to. We can’t share and give what we haven’t got.
We might have come across some people who radiate such peace. People want to be very close to them, to be influenced by their inner treasure. Some well known owners of this divine peace have been St Francis of Assisi, Blessed Mother Teresa or St John Paul II.
We may also find this peace in the soul of Sister Faustina. In her life it was additionally the result of her contemplating the mystery of the Divine Mercy. She received the gift of contemplation which meant experiencing God’s presence in her interior. Divine peace is a part of this spiritual experience.
She wrote: “Jesus, my love today gave me to understand how much He loves me, although there is such an enormous gap between us... I immerse myself in Him losing myself as it were, and yet, under His loving gaze, my soul gains strength and power and an awareness that it loves and is especially loved. It knows that the Mighty One protects it (Diary 815).
Whenever she began meditating on the mystery of the Divine Mercy, she could not finish this meditation because her spirit became entirely drowned in God. “I become lost in admiration when I recognise and experience this incomprehensible love of God with which God loves me... The more I know Him, the more completely with all the strength of my being I drown in Him” (Diary 729).
“During these moments I experience the greatness of God and my own misery. Such knowledge doesn’t depress me nor keep me away from the Lord, but rather it arouses in my soul greater love and boundless trust” (Diary 289, 852).
In Sister Faustina’s life, contemplation was not restricted to the time of prayer. It was extended over all her life. Because she discovered God in her soul, she didn’t have to go anywhere. She didn’t have to go before the tabernacle to meet Him. Sister Faustina communicated with Him in the depths of her being wherever she was. The theme of the presence of Jesus living within her appears many times on the pages of the diary. For instance it reads: “I am aware that You are dwelling in me, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, or rather I am aware that it is I who am living in You” (Diary 478). “The Lord penetrates my soul just as a ray from the sun penetrates clear glass. When I was enclosed in my mother’s womb, I was not so closely united with her as I am with my God” (Diary 883).
She compared her soul to the tabernacle, where the living host is preserved (cf. Diary 1302). Sister Faustina writes: “I rejoice that God dwells within me; here I abide with Him unendingly; it is here that my greatest intimacy with Him exists; here I dwell with him in safety; here is a place not penetrated by the human eye. The Blessed Virgin encourages me to communicate with God in this way” (Diary 454).
“I know God is in my heart. And I do not lose the presence of God in my soul. With him I go to work, with him I go for recreation, with him I suffer, with him I rejoice, I live in him and he in me. I am never alone because He is my constant companion. He is present to me at every moment” (Diary 318).
Heaven is a place of eternal, divine peace. Therefore we pray for the souls in the purgatory in such words: “Lord give them eternal peace. May they rest in peace.”
Let us finish with a few phrases taken from her diary. It is the Litany that praises the Divine Mercy:
“Divine Mercy, sweet relief for anguished hearts, I trust in You,
Divine Mercy, the only hope of despairing souls, I trust in You,
Divine Mercy, repose of hearts, peace amidst fear, I trust in You,
Divine Mercy, delight and ecstasy of holy souls, I trust in You,
Divine Mercy, inspiring hope against all hope, I trust in You” (Diary 949).
Fr Peter Prusakiewicz CSMA