Peace has always been a concept I’ve struggled to fully grasp. In the Prayer of Reconciliation in Coptic Orthodox Liturgy of the Faithful, the Deacon says “Pray for Perfect Peace, Love and the Holy Apostolic Greeting”. But what do we mean by perfect peace?
My humble understanding of peace previously had always been to pray against wars and strifes between different groups of people. And this is not wrong, praying for the peace of the world is so important. But, we must also pray for peace within ourselves and within others.
How often, especially during school, do we have moments of unrest maybe because of bad grades, busy schedules, or stress? How often do we disagree and argue with friends and family or worry about what others will think of us? Maybe someone “rubbed you the wrong way” recently? Daily we struggle to maintain peace within our hearts and to let go of the worries of the world. But what is keeping us from achieving perfect peace?
Our greatest role model, Christ, is the best example of Perfect Peace! Christ was tempted in every way just as we are tempted, yet perfectly kept His peace (Hebrews 4:15). Even when He was tempted by the devil, without hesitation He held on to His peace (Matthew 4:1-11). Christ lived and breathed peace. His heart was Peace. His is Peace. Maybe when at Church or in Prayer or reading the Bible my heart will fill with peace, but my heart isn’t peace the same way Christ’s was. How do we make our hearts like Christ’s? Again, what is keeping us from achieving perfect peace?
We can look to our desert fathers and mothers for wisdom on this matter. Two Saints I’d like to focus on are Saint Moses the Strong and Saint Annasimone. Saint Moses the Strong has a story a lot of us can relate with. Living a life of sin is so easy in the world we live in. We can meditate on how Saint Moses changed his path from the path of damnation to the righteous path of Salvation and lived a life of peace. One story of the Saint’s life I would like us to think about is this:
“He was then for the first time called to the assembly of the fathers of the desert of Scete, who were holding council over some important matter. When Moses appeared, some of them exclaimed aloud, on purpose to try him, “What business has a negro here?” But he kept silent, with a serene countenance. They who had treated him so contemptuously asked him afterwards what he had thought about it. Moses made answer, “I thought of this, ‘But Jesus held his peace.’” ” (The Fathers of the Desert)
Through the Saint’s wisdom, Saint Moses meditated on Christ’s ability to keep His peace when he also wanted to hold his peace. When we are challenged with trivial comments against us, worries about exams or grades, etc. we must remember “But Jesus held his peace”. Nothing we will ever go through in life should be so great that it can take away our peace. Our peace is armor against temptation.
The Saint Annasimone was a queen but desired to live a very simple and humble life and to not be praised for her worldly status. She left her kingdom to live in a monastery, but even there she made sure that no one would praise her for who she was.
“Upon reaching the monastery of Anba Ormeos, she wanted to hide her identity as she feared being treated with special respect because of her position as Queen of the Kingdom. So she pretended to be dumb, mute and acted mentally ill with whirling movements, shouting and behaving with antisocial manners” (Link)
The reason I share her story is because Saint Annasimone is the opposite of nearly all of us. We can all relate to Saint Moses’s life of sin to life of repentance because this is what we struggle to achieve everyday. Yet Saint Annasimone, because of her humility, went to the point of pretending to be disabled to prevent others from praising her. Our society often concerns ourselves over titles, status, etc. If even so much as someone had the wrong thought about who we are, we stress over if they will judge us or think of us differently. Saint Annasimone literally could not care less.
Saint Annasimone’s humility did not allow her to accept praise for her worldly crown, yet we go around wearing our many worldly crowns so proudly and for everyone to see. But for what? When has pride given us the peace we desire? When we humble ourselves, peace begins to grow within us.
We too can be just like the Saints and have hearts of peace!! Most importantly, we must give up the worries and concerns of the world. Our reputation, our status, the concerns and thoughts of others become meaningless when we stand before God. Be patient. Make your heart like the Heart of Christ, perfectly and in every way a Heart of Peace!
“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.”- 2 Thessalonians 3:16