Peace Not From the World

Peace Not From the World

Peace is my farewell to you, my peace is my gift to you; I do not give it to you as the world gives peace. Do not be distressed or fearful.

John 14:27

I feel obliged to keep somewhat informed about the spread of COVID-19 (the coronavirus) and as I was looking on a news website, I saw a link that said “Should I be panicking?” My students, naturally, are buzzing with news about the spreading virus and beneath the nervous excitement, some are truly concerned about getting sick. It is understand that fear should start to set in when it seems like very little time passes between various people mentioning something else about the coronavirus.

Apart from practical common sense attempts to not get sick, there isn’t much I can do. Yet similar to how listening endlessly to political news reports can fill me with unrest, countless stories and updates about the virus can begin to make me stressed. Jesus, despite showing concern for the poor and the suffering, doesn’t want us to be pools of despair, overcome with anxiety and worry about what may happen. We have an intellect that we ought to use, but He doesn’t want us to be frozen in isolating fear. Christ came to set us free, even from the slavery to fear.

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You’re not crazy

Sometimes all we really need to hear is, “You’re not crazy.”

I had a student come in and talk to me after school.  She described a few things and seemed worried about my response.  I told her a couple times that I didn’t think she was crazy.  The visible relief in her face and whole person was incredible.

Fear likes to keep us locked inside, convinced that speaking or revealing the truth would make us appear inferior.  We worry about what others would think and we worry about appearing vulnerable.  Trapped inside, fear can quickly become the ruler.

Satan seeks to destroy true peace and make us fearful, anxious, and worried.  Speaking truth into that darkness can begin to set us free from our self-made or at least self-perpetuated prison.

You’re not crazy.  Now tell Jesus about your fear and go in peace.

Sensibly Sensitive?

Some words can be used in either a positive or a negative way, depending on the particular situation.  One such word, I believe, is “sensitive.”

“Well, he is such a sensitive guy.  He brought me soup when I didn’t feel well….”

“You are always so sensitive.  I say one little thing and you start crying.”

Yes, I know the context varies greatly but sensitive can be seen both as a desirable characteristic or something that one should try to curb or diminish in oneself.

I have become very sensitive to Halloween and to evil.  That is not to say that I am perfect, that I never do anything bad, or that I have a sixth sense that allows me to sense evil people.  I think, rather, that my sensitive seems to be highlighted simply because so many have become desensitized to evil. 

Just because I dislike something or have a sensitivity to it doesn’t immediately mean that it would be impermissible for anybody else to enjoy it or for it to not be a vice.  However, the culture’s love affair with evil and violence is sickening.  We are conditioning ourselves to not react to things that we should react to.

My hometown has seemed to really dive into celebrating Halloween over the last few years.  When I was younger I was used to seeing the sheets transformed into ghosts, the jack-o-lantern bags filled with leaves, and the fake cobwebs stretched across the decks of different houses in town.  I will admit I could fall into the category of being overly sensitive but the town has seemed to change for the worse. 

Last year, several houses had dramatic scenes staged on their front lawns.  One house we would drive past on the way to Mass and the scene was horrific, even if it was very obvious that it was fake.  The sheet covered mannequins had blood stains and were positioned in different ways.  The most memorable pose to me was of an elderly lady, complete with walker, with a man coming up behind her armed with a chainsaw.  I saw it for weeks and it disgusted me.  One Sunday on the way home with just my mom, I saw it and I just started to sob.  People thought it was fine, humorous even, to stage vicious murders in their front yards.  It literally hurt my heart and I felt sick. 

This year I have battled within myself the desire to look and see their annual bloodbath and yet not wanting to feel sick again.  The glimpses I’ve had revealed someone wielding a sword and one quick glance left me convinced that someone was being tortured on an operating table…but then I was never certain and I was too divided to actually study the scene when we drove by.

I just don’t understand the enticement to evil.  Why is it permissible to glorify the most sadistic acts simply because it is Halloween?  I don’t believe that seeing a lawn display of fake murder will make the children of the town desire to go kill people.  However, I firmly believe that seeing this, repeatedly, and with the view that this is all in good fun, does something to our hearts.  My heart is already stony enough without needing to view funny mock crimes that I don’t at present find particularly funny. 

That sick feeling in the pit of my stomach was not the result of squeamishness or an overactive imagination.  I think it had some connection with just receiving Our Lord in Mass.  Perhaps it was His Heart aching within mine.  Think of the incongruities of this picture: Our Lord, having suffering and died for us, gazing at us with infinite love as we laugh at things that completely strip the human person of their dignity.  It doesn’t praise the goodness of humanity or the goodness of God.  It instills fear and not love.  It brings sickness, not health.

So am I sensitive?  Yes and no.  Sometimes I run over other people and disregard their feelings in the most insensitive ways.  Other times I begin to cry at the drop of a hat.  A sensitivity to evil, though, seems like a good thing.  This is not to mean fearfulness or anxiousness.  Yet a perception to what is not of the Lord can certainly work to draw you nearer to what is of the Lord. 

Who had the most sensitive heart in the world?  Our Lord.  May this stony heart became a new heart, a heart of flesh.  And may St. Michael the Archangel defend us in this battle that rages on earth and help bring us to the glorious victory found in Heaven.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.