Peace Be With You
Thank you for joining us for this first episode of Peace Be With You.
This is the podcast in which we will talk about those things that destroy peace: conflict; fighting; character assassination; family disputes; divorce; schism in the Church; clergy scandals; divisive politics; hate; evil; war; all those things that crush our happiness.
But our aim is not to simply complain about such bad things.
Rather Peace Be With You will respond to adversity with a soft and reflective tone. We will seek to uncover the root causes of suffering, so we might bring the Peace of the Lord into our lives.
Work on this podcast began on the Feast Day of Saint Francis of Assisi. This was no accident. Francis, one of our most beloved saints, displayed a keen understanding of peacemaking. We can learn a great deal from his example.
His uncanny ability to foster peace arose directly from his passion for imitating Christ the Mediator. As a result of imitating Christ,
Francis learned to recognize the divine within his brothers and sisters.
When he perceived God in his brothers and sisters, the divine love that infused his heart was released – and that love flowed to the other person and touched the image of God within them.
Francis experienced this “I and Thou” moment every time he met another child of God. The divine love dwelling in his heart embraced the divine love buried in the hearts of others – even in the hardened hearts of enemies.
This ability to recognize the divine in others may be the most important peacemaking skill anyone can possess. This is worth repeating: the most important peacemaking skill you can possess is the ability to see the divine within others.
As an aspiring peacemaker, perhaps your first reflection will be: can I see the divine within others?
So who should listen to this podcast? Conflict affects everyone. Man’s hunger for peace is universal.
Deep in our hearts we all long for tranquility. We long for peace in our families. We long for peace in the workplace. We seek to live peacefully with our neighbors. We strive to maintain peace within our community. Most of all we hunger for lasting peace among nations. We pray for an end to war and violence.
Yet, all too often, we find serenity only in our dreams. In our waking life, we are met with turmoil and conflict. Cries of human suffering clash with the Lord’s sweet promise of heavenly peace. With sadness and regret we seek peace… but we find a troubled world.
We may wonder what went wrong? How did we mess up?
It seems we failed to understand Jesus’ promise - stated in John 14:27:
“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.”
Maybe there was something we just didn’t understand. We became overwhelmed with doubt — and fear. But Peace Be With You will address these doubts, fears, and confusions. In this podcast we will search for the path to lasting peace.
And I will also contrast the path to Christ’s Peace with secular peacemaking, which has come up short. If worldly approaches worked, we would not be surrounded by conflict. They have not worked. We need something new.
In fact, the failure of worldly efforts motivates our search for a new path. We hunger for something that works – we seek a path that leads to the Peace of Christ.
This search calls for a fundamental theology of peacemaking. Benedict XVI provides us with just such a theology.
He delivers keen insights into the relationship between immortal souls and God — the fundamental place of encounter where peacemaking begins and ends.
“But” you may object… isn’t the study of theology challenging? Won’t that make peacemaking more difficult? There’s no need to worry.
I will not present theology in a dry and abstract manner.
Rather, I will turn to applied theology — a theology we can apply to our lives. This study begins with the most basic relationship any man or woman can have — a relationship with God — which serves as the foundation for all human relationships.
This is a key premise of Peace Be With You: if we truly want to understand human relationships, we must first understand divine relationship.
So, as an aspiring peacemaker, how do you work with this truth? It begins with assessment. If you see that a person’s relationship with God is damaged or broken — you know they will fail to heal all other relationships. This is a given.
The study of theology will also strengthen your belief that peace is possible — even in the face of many reasons to be skeptical.
For example, Saint Bonaventure, who followed the contemplative path of Saint Francis, came to believe peace was possible. He predicted an age of peace would appear within history. Benedict XVI describes his predictions in one of my favorite books, The Theology of History in Saint Bonaventure:
“It is a peace which God Himself will establish in this world which has seen so much blood and tears, as if at least at the end of time, God would show how things could have been and should have been in accordance with His plan.”
In these words, Benedict and Bonaventure provide good reason for us to hope. Nonetheless, peacemakers must acknowledge the harshness of present reality.
In fact, successful peacemakers conduct Reality Checks with the parties they help. They take a deep dive into each party’s worldview to discover what they consider to be true or false.
Peacemakers begin the Reality Check process by listening to the stories of what happened. The differing accounts that the parties bring to the table beg the question, “What is real? What really happened?”
As you probably know from your personal experience, each party in a conflict views reality from a unique perspective. The mediator must mold those differing views into one shared narrative. This task of shaping a common reality is a topic we will explore in Peace Be With You.
Eventually, we will reflect on the really Big question: “What Is Reality?” We will explore various worldviews — views of reality that often clash and generate conflict.
Working with an accurate worldview is vital. Peacemakers who work with false assumptions eventually run aground. If you want to be a peacemaker you will need to grasp the full nature of reality. You will need to recognize both natural and supernatural aspects of this universe.
Also, in Peace Be With You, I will discuss challenges peacemakers face.
I will examine the common causes of impasse. I will reflect on overcoming barriers. Most of all, I will celebrate the courage of those who battle to bring about peace.
In some episodes I will present the Assisi Option. This plan addresses many of the ills that today afflict the Catholic Church. It is a plan for renewing the faith so that we might better engage the culture.
The Assisi Option employs multiple disciplines: spiritual direction, pastoral counseling, and mediation. In the podcast, I will discuss those disciplines in detail.
In addition, I will share concepts from Taming the Wolf: Peace through Faith. In that manual I married contemporary conflict resolution with the peacemaking legacy of Saint Francis. I will return to those principles and those ideas – as people found they helped them resolve conflict and reconcile relationships.
Peace Be With You episodes will be shorter than many other podcasts. They will be brief by design. The episodes will contain concise but powerful peacemaking concepts designed to be followed by periods of reflection. For example, you might listen for five or ten minutes – then spend the next twenty minutes in contemplation. You might even consider that – metaphorically - you travel to the cave like Francis for a mini hermitage.
So that’s the plan for the podcast Peace Be With You. I hope you will become a regular listener. In the next episode, I will introduce the Assisi Option.
Good-bye for now. May God bless you and bring you peace.