Finding Inner Peace: Lessons from Venerable St. Leonard
Msgr. Charles M. Mangan
During our busy days here on campus, we may feel overwhelmed and anxious. Much is demanded of us. How can we go forward when assignments are past due, the future is uncertain or we’re resentful of present difficulties?
One of the best spiritual guides is St. Leonard of Port Maurice (1676-1751), a Franciscan friar known for his preaching in defense of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception for which our chapel is named. He offered four “rules” to help achieve peace of soul.
1. To be attached only to God. Money is important, but to be overly concerned about it is inviting inner spiritual havoc. The soul’s primary need is communication with its creator. One needs to view objects and persons in reference to God and his will if peace is to reign. To be alive for the Lord and his kingdom is paramount.
2. To surrender to Divine Providence. The best spiritual writers agree on this point: Sanctity and inner peace are attained only when God’s will hold sway. The Lord knows best. Humbly accepting his will is vastly different from reluctantly putting up with it. When a person yields to the divine plan, they demonstrate a belief that God will sustain them, no matter what happens.
3. To welcome suffering and hardship. Human nature tends to resist hindrances. Yet, spiritual perfection entails carrying the cross of Jesus. Scorn and rejection from others—while hardly pleasant—must be seen as an opportunity to experience solidarity with the suffering Christ.
4. To undertake only that which our situation in life demands. Often a person takes upon himself too many activities at once. “The more, the better” does not necessarily apply in the realm of good works. Prudence dictates what one can accomplish. Inner turmoil may spring from a plethora of activities, even when they are morally good acts. Prayer and counsel will determine what to undertake and what to forego.
We will benefit by taking heed of the wise advice offered by St. Leonard nearly three centuries ago.
Happiness of soul occurs when a person conforms themselves to Christ through acceptance of the Father’s will. Only then may one experience the peace which the world cannot give (cf. St. John 14:27).