Emmitsburg Council of Churches

God's Gift to a Stressful world

Father John J. Lombardi

Notes from a spiritual retreat at Mary's Mountain

I: "What is inner peace"? Inner Peace….

"Let this Mind be in you which was also in Jesus Christ" (Phil 2:5).Take on the peacefulness of Christ into your mind.

"I have learned in whatever situation to be self-sufficient" St Paul-(Phil 4). Do you seek and embrace peacefulness in all situations or are you always looking around for more-stimulation, possessions, "additives"?

How are you imitating the Life of Christ?

De-stressors: take a slow walk; smell the flowers and actually look at them; listen to some beautiful (Chant) music; play with your children; eat your meals slowly; read the Bible; re-create in the Lord's creation-hike, swim, walk; count your blessings daily; breathe some mountain air; drink some spring water; lessen tv and media-watching; watch a joyful movie; make a mini-retreat-a day or half-day; breathe deeply; exercise-shake up your inside world; detoxify thru eating well, natural foods;

"The Kingdom of God is within you"-Lk 17:21-are you embracing the King of Peace within?

Theophany: this means, literally, God manifesting Himself in our world. Do you see this-God and His providence-unfolding Himself before you-daily, even in cacophony, the hecticness of life? Theophany can be calm, yes, but also in the midst of cacophony-the needy children playing and in the work activities-all can be Theophany IF you learn to think and see Him unfolding it for you!

Don't boil over or blow up like a volcano: vent the volcano-anger inside you slowly, and gain self mastery.

Grace under pressure: We all need God's Help, Life, divinization. Grace is like a "spiritual I.V." tube from our nature to His Divine Nature that draws upon His Higher Power for help, assistance

Peace pilgrim: an orthodox pilgrim went around asking, "What does it mean to pray unceasingly"

(I Th. 5:17)? He eventually was answered with "The Jesus Prayer": "Lord, Jesus Christ, only Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." Pray this aspiration continuously, unceasingly and produce good thoughts and constant need of God and His help. They say The Jesus Prayer is a mini-Gospel including all the elements of the Gospel-so use it daily.

Stop "playing old tapes" of anxiousness and negativity, and don't try to "fast forward" to other tapes and control the future either. Be mindful and practice the Presence of God.

A pilgrim once said: "I'm borrowing trouble." Do you often take other's anxiety-ridden situations onto your shoulders inordinately out of your needy, addictive temperament?

Peace amidst storms of life: think of St Paul in Rome, in "chains" (in the Book of Philippians) and yet, he, Paul, is at peace, "self-sufficient". Think of Fr Walter Ciszek, SJ, and his book "With God in Russia"-and his "breakthrough" to abandonment in God after being tortured, and how he fully surrendered to Him even while still in "chains" and gained freedom because he relied on God more.

Peace is fragile: we can do all the disciplines we want and pray unceasingly-and we should, and never give up-and yet since we are humans and sinners-fallen--and the world is messy, "It doesn't always come together peacefully". It is not like furniture from Ikea or "This End Up" which, if we put together, everything is always workable and peaceful and our spiritual lives are absolutely settled. No, we need to do what we can, but also accept the "sloppiness of the world and ourselves"-accepting what we cannot change--and keep trying at the things we can change. Thus we need patience and fortitude, and wisdom in these matters!

St Thomas Aquinas counsels/describes the soul in love for God-"amor facit exstasins--love produces ecstasy". We all have many "false containers of self" which we need to be released from, until we are prepared to meet, virginally, the Lord - because our Love for Him causes us to "come out of ourselves"-to "boil over"-and then more fully and freeingly go out to our Beloved-God. We will not have deeper peace until we have purified our souls of all these "false selves" and "containers" which constrain/imprison us. Keep purifying!

(Col. 1): "It is no longer I that live but Christ within me"-I must die; Christ must live and irradiate within me. It's all about this inner realization/transformation of Christ within us.

Theosis: this means the exchange of Divine life from God into us=divinization-thru prayer, the sacraments, helping others.

Sleep: are you getting enough? Do you get groggy and moody and intemperate? Sleep is healing and regenerative for body, mind and soul! Get more if you need it-remember you are body and soul. Even an occasional nap is healthy-and spiritual!

A pilgrim said before our retreat: "I'm looking forward to finding out how to leave a stressful world"-yes-we need Two D's-Desire and Disciplines to help us-do you have these in your life? Peace doesn't always "just happen"-we must deliberately and deservingly seek it.

Body, mind and soul: we are tripartite beings and we should be holistic in our peace seeking. Body=dieting and exercise; mind=right thinking/mindfulness; soul=sacraments and the soul animating the body in equilibrium. Do you address and amend these three parts of yourself or "split off" or divorce one from the others?

Friendships: We need good friends we can rely on to help us to peacefulness. Recently at a baptism, I was amazed at the couple who drove all the way to Frederick, MD, from Michigan for just a two-day visit. I was further surprised when the visitors said the host couple once came back to the USA from Guam for their child's baptism! The two dads were college roommates. We sometimes find God in one another and God Himself in relationships. So how do you cultivate healthy relationships to peace?

Anxiousness results from not conforming to what God allows or wants, and trying to bend Him or a situation to your needs; when this doesn't work we get anxious. But when you surrender to what is, what He allows, you will be at peace. Remember the crucial distinction: concern is good, healthy, proportionate care for others and situations; anxiousness is disproportionate fretting and needless worry. Make the distinction-and then live it.

ALOT: an acronym for = A Lack Of Trust-in God. The opposite is peace-trust/abandonment. A pilgrim once said "I guess I don't trust God enough yet". How can you surrender to Him more-in little, medium and big ways, as stepping stones to freedom?

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi