One of Jesus’ most moving words to his disciples post-resurrection.
Jesus’ promise to us.
We all want it. And yet, our world and personal lives can seem to be anything but peaceful. News bites, social media, tense conversations, loud kids, and incessant interior chatter can eat away at our peace.
Where is this eternal reality to be found?
The Simple Path
During my last semester of college, I read a book that changed my life’s course, A Simple Path by Mother Teresa. The book introduced me to Saint Teresa of Calcutta, and she became kin to my heart. The book created space for the Holy Spirit to work simply and powerfully in my life. The Spirit led me into a deeper relationship with God, gave me the courage to make difficult decisions, and filled me with confidence and peace.
As we approach Saint Teresa’s feast day on September 5, I offer you her Simple Path. I pray that it provides enough light for you to see the next step on your journey toward peace.
Mother Teresa’s Simple Path:
The fruit of silence is prayer;
The fruit of prayer is faith;
The fruit of faith is love;
The fruit of love is service;
The fruit of service is peace.
The Fruit of Silence is Prayer
Mother Teresa begins her Simple Path with silence. We know that silence is the font from which we draw spiritual hydration. We watch Jesus seek silence in Scripture. We hear the prophet Elijah’s words about how God speaks in a “a light silent sound” (1 Kings 19:12).
C.S. Lewis writes about how the devil hates silence in The Screwtape Letters. The senior demon, Screwtape, says, “We will make the whole universe a noise…We have already made great strides in this direction as regards the Earth. The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end. (The Screwtape Letters, 119-120).
Our world and our homes may be noisy, but silence is non-negotiable if we want to make space for God’s peace to dwell in us. Can you find silence for a few minutes before your family wakes up? On a morning walk? During your work commute? After your kids go to sleep?
In the silence, prayer begins. God speaks to our hearts and we respond.
The Fruit of Prayer is Faith
When we habitualize silence and prayer, we grow in our desire for it. We know the strength, comfort, and peace that comes from resting with our God. The Holy Spirit gives us faith that God is with us.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him. ‘Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God’” (CCC 153).
The Fruit of Faith is Love
When we spend time with God, God inspires and assists us to act like him. We grow in our likeness to God. We may pray for someone who has hurt us and desire to forgive them. We may desire to grow in virtue—to practice self-control, patience, courage, or wisdom. We may feel some of our hard edges—our defensiveness, resentments, bitterness—begin to soften, sensing there is a better way to live. Through silence, prayer, and faith, we are formed to be people of love.
The Fruit of Love is Service
Authentic love cannot stay within us; it moves out toward and for others. Love is a habit of self-gift. Saint Thomas Aquinas tells us that to love is to consistently will and choose the good of the other. In his practical sensibilities, Saint Francis de Sales advises, “You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; and just so, you learn to love by loving.”
What happens when we become weary in our service of others? When our service lacks joy and feels exhausted, perhaps we have forgotten to lean on the One from whom our strength comes. We might ask ourselves if we are striving to serve apart from Jesus. We remember that true service is the fruit of loving relationship with Jesus.
The Fruit of Service is Peace
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity speaks encouraging words to us on our journeys of everyday holiness. She reminds us that no matter where we are, God dwells within us. She says, “The entire Trinity rests within us, this whole mystery that will be ours in Heaven: let this be your cloister.” As we sit, stand, walk, and talk, God is with us. As we cook, change, teach, and work, God is with us.
The Holy Spirit guides our steps. The Spirit guides us to seek silence, and gives us the confidence to respond to God in prayer. The Holy Spirit sits with us in prayer and gives us the gift of faith. The Holy Spirit moves us to love, and strengthens us for service. The Holy Spirit whispers words of truth to our hearts that God abides in us, and desires to give us his peace.
Friends in Heaven
Saint Teresa of Calcutta introduced me to her Simple Path one decade ago, and continues to work in my life. Reflecting on her Simple Path now reveals how many heavenly friends she has helped introduce me to along the way. It seems that these friends of God all knew something of God’s eternal peace even as they lived surrounded by noise, sickness, chaos, and uncertainty on earth. I rejoice knowing that they now live with the Source of all peace, and I pray that someday we will join them.