I have been reading a book about a young man who faces a crisis of faith, and St. Francis helps him navigate his way through a dark night of the soul. It’s been inspiring and convicting all at once. Spending time looking at St. Francis’s life has made me consider in a new way the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, when he says: Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God. How often are we longing for peace in our homes? Particularly in the summer! There is a deep and undeniable connection between peace and forgiveness, and this is a dance we see play out again and again in our homes as we attempt to form the souls entrusted to our care.
We are only two weeks into summer, and I have already bellowed countless times at my children: “Please stop fighting,” or “Please ask your brother or sister for forgiveness.” But all the bellowing in the world cannot make my children peacemakers. How do we cultivate a domestic church rooted in peace? We have to be at peace ourselves, and that is where the real work begins. I cannot expect my children to operate in peace and forgiveness if my soul is a cacophony of noise and hurry. I cannot bark orders and expect them to be followed with joy if I cannot even convey them with that same virtue. I have been at this mothering game a long time now, and although I have learned a tremendous amount, and improved in a myriad of ways, I still have a long way to go if I truly want to be a peacemaker.
The never-ending gift of motherhood is its ability to draw us into deeper holiness. These summer months provide a beautiful opportunity to ask the Lord where he wants to take us in our journey toward greater perfection in him. We can’t just desire the absence of conflict (although that is always a welcome blessing), but rather, we must unite our hearts to Jesus and be proactively engaged in a work of reconciliation that starts in our own lives and extends to the lives of our domestic church and the world beyond it.
We live in a world that pretends it values peace, but which in fact thrives on divisiveness and vitriol. It is so easy to get caught up in the chaos and the noise. God is calling us to something starkly different than what the world offers. In these summer months may we reflect on these words of St. Francis and beg the Lord to allow us to live them for our children, and in turn, see our children live them as well:
O Lord make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant they we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.