Finding Interior Peace

Jesus said, “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.” (John 14:27) 

Jesus died to save us from our sins and to open the gates of Heaven, which had been closed due to sin. He atoned for our sins and the sins of the world as a perfect sacrifice. He arose from the dead on Easter Sunday and said that we also may rise on the last day to eternal life.

Jesus didn’t promise that we’d have material wealth, success, popularity, or health in this life. Rather he came that we might have eternal life that begins in some ways now and lasts forever. He wanted us to have abundant life including his peace in our heart, in spite of anything that is happening outside of ourselves.

How can we attain peace of heart? 

One thing we can do is to realize that God is the source of all good things. With the help of God’s grace, we can choose to put our faith, hope, and love in God. The peace Christ came to give us is an interior peace. He told us we would have troubles in this world, but that he had overcome the world. (See John 16:33.)

Focusing on Jesus and what is good will help us stay in interior peace. If we dwell too much on lesser things, we lose our peace. For example, do we focus on negative or troublesome relationships, news, TV shows, videos, articles, or books? Our experience is affected by what we think about, watch, read, and whom we associate with. The Bible teaches us how to have peace in the following passage:

Philippians 4:6-9: “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

Scripture also tells us how to be happy by following and pondering God’s law. 

Psalm 1:1-2 says, “Happy those who do not follow the counsel of the wicked, Nor go the way of sinners, nor sit in company with scoffers. Rather, the law of the LORD is their joy; God’s law they study day and night.”

When we find ourselves getting nervous, anxious, feeling bad, depressed etc., we can examine what we are thinking about and in what we are putting our faith, hope, and love. Is God number one in our lives or are we worshiping or loving something or someone above God?

The first commandment tells us we must love God above all things with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. If we do this we are on track to finding true happiness and inner peace. If God is our foundation, when other things aren’t going well, we have a solid foundation. St. Teresa of Avila said, “God alone suffices.”

The Two Foundations

Jesus said: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Every one who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But he who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation; against which the stream broke, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:46-49

We can come to experience the peace Christ came to give us by giving up sin and obeying what Jesus said to do. This includes regularly praying and receiving the sacraments. Through prayer we are developing an interior life and coming to closer union with a great and beautiful God who loves us very much and wants to be united to us. Even if storms and troubles are brewing outside, our interior can still be returned to peace if we are united to God and frequently lift our minds and hearts to God in prayer.

St. Ignatius of Loyola once said that even if his society (his life‘s work) were dissolved, it would take him 15 minutes of prayer to reconcile himself to this. St. Frances de Sales, when asked once how long he went without being aware of the presence of God, also said 15 minutes. The Saints focused on and trusted in God’s great love and will for them. They prayed in humility and trust for God’s help and grace in their troubles and necessities whether spiritual or material, just as we should.

Jesus has shown us how much God loves us by suffering and dying for us on the cross. But the cross isn’t the end of the story. Jesus rose on Easter Sunday and triumphed over sin and death, not only for himself but for those who accept Him. The eternal life Jesus promised to those who believe in him and obey his commandments begins here on earth interiorly and continues forever in Heaven. 

God is love and desires to have a relationship with us. It is up to us to accept or reject God’s ways and love for us. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life! We have the answers to the meaning of life in our Catholic faith and do not need to go elsewhere to find them, but too few people really take the time to learn and practice the Faith handed down from the Apostles.

To know God’s will better, we should study Holy Scripture, the teachings of the Catholic Church, and the writings of the Saints. Read and ponder these and pray for God’s guidance. It is important to have a regular prayer life and to put into practice what we learn. It is also helpful to have someone to share our spiritual life such as a spiritual director or spiritual friend, someone who is knowledgeable and trustworthy, and preferably holy or more advanced in the spiritual life than we are.