On Practicing the Habit of Peace

As for peace of heart, you must make a habit of seeking, finding and enjoying it in the upper part of the soul, in the apex of the spirit, in spite of the perturbation, rebelliousness and restlessness of the lower and less spiritual part. The latter must be held of no account, since God ignores what happens in it. In St. Teresa’s words it may be called the courtyard of the soul’s inner castle [Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila]. Profit from this precept which all the saints have adopted. Act like a man who, finding himself among the unclean animals and vermin of his castle yard, ascends hastily to the upper rooms with their beautiful decorations and cultured people. You also must ascend into the sanctuary of the soul, and endeavour never to leave it, since it is there God has made his permanent dwelling-place. -from Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence, pg. 273 (bold emphasis mine)

These words from Fr. de Caussade should give us pause for reflection as we set upon practicing the habit of peace. And we really must make our peaceful state a habit, for if we don’t, all too often, our emotions will overwhelm our senses and we may be inclined, because of our pride, to move away from God.

Whenever we feel the “perturbation, rebelliousness and restlessness” of which Fr. de Caussade writes, we can practice the habit of a peaceful state by praying the following prayer:

My divine king, my great sovereign, it is you who will, or do not will, this thing. For me that is enough: bless you for all things and in all things. -from Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence, pg. 194, footnote about Sister Anne-Catherine de Preudhomme, who prayed this prayer whatever befell her.

Where Can We Find God?

Summarized in his book Consoling the Heart of Jesus, Father Michael Gaitley, MIC writes the following three-part definition of St. Teresa of Avila’s prayer of recollection, “(1) a particularly effective form of prayer that always lies within our power to practice (2) by which we keep the Lord interiorly present (3) by gazing on him or speaking with him there.”

How can we keep God present in our life apart from our prayer times? Often, we may find that we compartmentalize God because, frankly, it’s difficult to recollect upon God when we are immersed in our day-to-day duties and leisure’s of life. And yet, St. Teresa calls the prayer of recollection, “One of the best ways to develop a deeper life of prayer…”

The way that we can reconcile this seeming paradox is by the following from Father de Caussade: 

“There is no moment at which God does not present himself under the guise of some suffering, some consolation or some duty.  All that occurs within us, around us and by our means covers and hides his divine action. His action is there, most really and certainly present, but in an invisible manner, the result of which is that we are always being taken by surprise and that we only recognize his operation after it has passed. Could we pierce the veil and were we vigilant and attentive, God would reveal himself continuously to us and we should rejoice in his action in everything that happens to us.”  -from Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence, pg. 18-19. (emphasis mine)

Divine action is God. And everything, save for sin, is Divine action. When we think about the interior recollection of God as St. Teresa talked about, we need only look to the present moment to see where God is and how God is offering Himself to us. Suffering. Consolation. Duty.