"The fruit of the Spirit is . . . peace" (Gal 5:22)
Nine years ago I had the opportunity to make an Ignatian 30-day retreat at a retreat house in Gloucester. I loved walking along the water to pray and reflect. The retreat is structured so that the person first meditates and prays about God's great love for us, and only after that come the meditations on sin. We can't truly confront our sin without a secure knowledge of God's love, knowing that no matter what we've done, God's mercy is greater. At that point I made my confession. Afterward, walking along the water, the words of Micah 7:19 came to mind, "You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins." It left me with an incredible feeling of peace.
Before the retreat I had invited people to leave their prayer intentions that I took with me. When I got back, I found a message: "Sister, the prayer I left with you was answered, and today I was able to receive Communion for the first time in more than twenty years." I still treasure that message and it's so beautiful to think of how God answers our prayers for each other. I don't know who that person was, but I'm sure that he or she had a deep experience of this fruit of the Spirit: peace.
Above all else, peace comes first in our relationship with God. When that is set aright, we can more easily live at peace with others. When we allow the Holy Spirit into our hearts, the grace we receive enables us to look at others in a new way. Then it is easier to love them too.
"Let nothing perturb you, nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything.”--St Teresa of Avila
Prayer for Peace by St. John Paul II (slightly adapted)
Holy Spirit, hear my voice, for it is the voice of the victims of all wars and violence among individuals and nations.
Holy Spirit, hear my voice, for it is the voice of all children who suffer and will suffer when people put their faith in weapons and war.
Holy Spirit, hear my voice when I beg You to instill into the hearts of all human beings the wisdom of peace, the strength of justice, and the joy of fellowship.
Holy Spirit, hear my voice, for I speak for the multitudes in every country and in every period of history who do not want war and are ready to walk the road of peace.
Holy Spirit, hear my voice and grant insight and strength so that we may always respond to hatred with love, to injustice with total dedication to justice, to need with the sharing of self, to war with peace.
Holy Spirit, hear my voice and grant unto the world Your everlasting peace.
This is the beautiful Taize chant.