St. Joan of Arc's Death at the Stake, by Hermann Stilke, 1843 Public domain

Charles Lewis: It’s a bumpy road to finding true peace

  • April 13, 2018

What is peace? What does it mean in the Christian sense? 

We say to each other at Mass after the Lord’s Prayer, “The peace of Christ.” We talk about how finding Christ brings peace to a troubled world. We sense Christ can bring us serenity and calm the anxious heart — both signs of peace.

For the last five months I was part of group of instructors leading adults into the Roman Catholic Church. That effort culminated at the Easter Vigil at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica as our students were baptized, confirmed and took Holy Communion for the first time. It was as joyous an occasion as I have ever experienced.

But will this great movement into the Church bring them peace? C.S. Lewis wrote there is no peace apart from God. “Because it is not there. There is no such thing.”

Peace is not automatic. Sometimes, I believe, peace comes at the end of a troubled journey. 

To be a serious Christian in today’s Canada is to be an outlier. The evidence shows we are under siege. To be clear, we are not facing the kind of violence our brothers and sisters are experiencing in the Middle East. There is no danger of our churches being shuttered or our homes invaded. But that does not mean there are not serious storm warnings.

A year before the 2014 Quebec provincial election, the Parti Quebecois proposed that all public employees be banned from wearing “overt religious symbols” at work. That meant no cross around the neck or no yarmulke on the head. 

The PQ lost but that should give no comfort. The fact a major provincial party floated it should have set off alarms.

The Canada Summer Jobs program alone should be enough to tell us that something has gone wrong. Being forced to agree with the federal Liberal Party’s position on abortion in order to qualify for grants stinks to high heaven. It reeks of deep-seated anti-Christian sentiment. Very few of us except the deeply paranoid could have imagined this happening even a decade ago. Yet, here we are.

The Liberals can get away with this because they know the vast majority of Canadians think manhandling the orthodox faithful is just fine. We live in an atheistic culture in which belief is viewed as either stupid or sinister.

All this means that being a Christian, not some watered-down version to appeal to people who do not know nor like us, will bring conflict.

“There is no peace in the borderlands. The halfway Christian is a torment to himself and of no benefit to others,” wrote an unknown Christian under the pseudonym Earnest Worker.

In the face of this we have a choice: to avoid turmoil through denial of one’s faith or to find true peace by standing up to those who would demean God.

Many will fear the loss of friends, the respect of co-workers and even the scorn of family. These are real sacrifices. But then look what the martyrs sacrificed. Or look at today’s martyrs who have been slaughtered by ISIS for refusing to deny Christ.

The trouble our faith will cause us may even give us pause. Is this really worth it? How do I live without the approval of those who once called me their friends? 

This is where our faith becomes our bumpy road to true peace. It will be the peace of not hiding from the truth we claim to profess. 

All this is good. It means we are to be tested. Do not be like some who run away to find a more liberal and supposedly more acceptable form of Christianity. These people exist and they often spit venom at the Catholic faith they once embraced. Better to be part of the Catholic counter-culture and walk with our heads held high and shoulders back.

For those who cave in to the culture, there will always be a sense of self-betrayal. They will never really feel at peace. The remedy is to find some steel … through prayer and the Cross. 

St. Joan of Arc was tested in a way we can only hope never comes our way. But her words, spoken as she came to terms with her horrific end, should always guide us: 

“It is better to be alone with God. His friendship will not fail me, nor His counsel, nor His love. In His strength I will dare and dare and dare until I die.”

(Lewis is a Toronto writer and regular contributor to The Catholic Register.)

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