Peace be with you

Happy Advent! I cannot believe that we are already into the second week of Advent. And what a great theme for our world in this second week. Peace. All we have to do is watch the news for one evening and know that peace is something that we desperately need. 

As any good writer would do, I Googled the technical definition of peace. According to Merriam-Webster, peace is “a state of tranquility or quiet.” I went on to a national news website and read about ISIS, a bomb threat at a school, a police officer who was shot and a shooting that killed four and wounded nine — without having to click on anything. I searched a local news website and on the homepage I read about a DUI, a fatal hit and run, a homicide and fire that caused significant damage. There is a cry for peace in our world. 

In his homily on Sept. 1, 2013, Pope Francis said, “All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace. I make a forceful and urgent call to the entire Catholic Church, and also to every Christian of other confessions, as well as to followers of every religion and to those brothers and sisters who do not believe: peace is a good which overcomes every barrier, because it belongs to all of humanity!” Pope Francis reminds us that it is every person’s duty to work for peace. It is not just up to the government, the Church, the civil authorities, but each and everyone one of us to promote peace because it is a right of all humans. St. Pope John XXIII in his encyclical “Pacem in Terris” reminds us that in order to do so, it must start with cultivating relationships.

But I want to go back to the definition of peace. It is the “state of tranquility or quiet.” Peace is not just a lack of violence and destruction in the world but a lack of noise and unrest in our own lives. As I sit here typing this with a sleeping puppy on my lap, I am reminded exactly of what peace is. It’s about taking time away from everything and enjoying the quiet. It’s about putting away distractions and just sitting with those we love.

The Dalai Lama said “We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” Advent gives us a chance to work on peace within ourselves. We have to take advantage of this season. We need to step away from the crazy lines at the local stores, the stress on the bank account and how we are going to make it all work, the craziness of decorating, baking, cooking and make time for peace. We need to find time to set aside for more prayer. Spend time reading Scripture. Listen to music. Turn off the TV, the phone, the tablet and just be still. 

This is the gift of the Advent season. The Church in her wisdom sets aside time to prepare for the Birth of Christ not by giving us time off to go shopping but to spend time with God. Henri Nouwen says, “Waiting is a period of learning. The longer we wait, the more we hear about Him for Whom we are waiting.” While we wait for the joy that the Incarnation brings, we should spend more time getting to know the Incarnate One. 

I pray that you have a blessed Christmas, but I also pray that we use the gift of this season to find the peace that Christ offers us. As Mother Teresa reminds us, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Let us spend this season of preparation remembering that we belong to one another because we belong to the One, true God. 

Anchor columnist Amanda Tarantelli has been a campus minister at Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth since 2005. She is married, a die-hard sports fan, and resides in Cranston, R.I. She can be reached at atarantelli@bishopstang.com.

© 2018 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing   †   Fall River, Massachusetts