Find a quiet spot to read, reflect, and pray. You may record your thoughts in a prayer journal, or share your responses with others in a group.
I. Beginning of Prayer
Take a few moments to become more prayerful and centered in order to receive the gift of God’s Word. Consider:
Have you ever felt a deep hunger for an inner peace that sets you searching passionately for it? Have you looked for it in a quiet place, the company of friends, a vacation, or material security, but sensed that the inner peace is a lot deeper than all of these?
Consider these questions; reflect on them and write them down in your journal. Perhaps it would be helpful if you begin writing about how you have searched for peace, as concrete as the real place where you spend time with, like a particular cafe, or a quiet place, away from the noise of your life. It is place where you are honest with who and what you are, where you are happy with your own uniqueness before God.
Offer a spontaneous prayer. You can use the Collect from the Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (page XX), today’s Collect, or the suggested prayer for the day (page XX).
II. Scripture Reading:
Philippians 4:6-9, taken from the 2nd Reading of the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 5, 2014. Read the Scripture passage. Pause for a few minutes of silence to be attentive to God’s message for you today.
St. Ignatius of Loyola suggests several paths to inner peace, and each path is a gift of the Lord.
First, the experience of unconditional love. The experience of love is undeniably what gives us inner peace. When we know and feel that we are loved; and we love another, we can bear all the pains and trials of our lives. It is said that a person who is suffering for another person is someone who is at peace. Because the person knows who anchors their lives. A grateful person borne of receiving love possesses an inner peace.
Second, the experience of service. Have you ever experienced this peace when you are able to help others especially those who cannot return the favor? Our life is a paradox. Jesus said that those who lose one’s life for another would gain it. When we are able to share our lives with others, we experience this inner peace.
Third, the experience of forgiveness. The German-Jewish philosopher, Hannah Arendt says that our life is a tragedy because we cannot mend the past. But she said that our life of faith provides the remedy for it: for the turmoil from our dark past, including our broken relationships and sinfulness, Jesus invites us to forgive. We become free when we are able to reconcile with others, with our history, and with ourselves.
Fourth, the experience of healing. This healing is an inner yearning for those who are battling with a long illness or suffering. It may not find physical well-being, like the process that cancer patients are subjected to, but in some mysterious ways, some people find the grace of acceptance and peace, and then, lead a meaningful life.
Fifth, the experience of freedom. This is particularly important for those who feel being imprisoned by their own addiction, whether it is a substance (drugs, alcohol, etc.), a virtual reality (internet-related), attachments, dependency, or a disorder in our life. Peace happens when there is an enlightenment, a realization of its working in our lives and others, and finally, the courage to break from its cycle.
Finally, the experience of friendship with Jesus. To find Jesus as our best friend, more than even our human best friend brings us to inner peace. In our human relationships, we yearn for someone who can be there, anytime and at anyplace. Only Jesus can be that to us. To find Jesus as our friend for life is to find serenity and inner peace.
St. Ignatius of Loyola says that only God can give peace. Why? Because it is not in the nature of the evil spirit to give peace; only God can grant us the inner peace we yearn for. So, when we are at peace in prayer, St. Ignatius assures us of encountering God.
In the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians in the second reading, “Brothers and sisters: Have no anxiety at all but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your request known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Consider these questions: Among the six gifts of God to find peace, which among them do you greatly need? What among them applies to your situation right now? Why is it applicable to you?
IV. Engaging the World with the Word
There are other people who are in great need of each of the six graces. Every human being yearns for inner peace, though they might be treading a different path at their own pace and life-stage. St. Ignatius says that in order for us to advance in prayer, we need to use the grace, i.e. inner peace. He believes that love is best shown in action.
Identify someone who needs to know and feel loved. Do some concrete actions to make them feel that way, like a greeting card, or a big hug.
Consider the other five paths, and apply them to others, perhaps there is someone whom you have hurt and may need to hear you’re sorry. When you become a peacemaker, you too discover the peace that you seek.
V. Closing Prayer
End with this prayer. If you are praying with others, the response may be this: “Listen to us, Lord, grant us peace.”
Dearest Lord, companion on the road, voice in the night, here we are, gathered to listen. Open our ears, our whole being, that we may become a listening presence to each other, that we may enjoy the gift of our spiritual conversation.
Give us the generosity to listen with openness (R.)
The wisdom to understand what is heard (R.)
The strength to be changed by what is shared (R.)
The listening that never judges the curiosity of a child (R.)
Increase in us the peace to forgive and be forgiven (R.)
The reverence to honor both gift and loss (R.)
The acceptance that allows failure to be shared (R.)
The prudence to know when not to speak (R.)
The surrender that treasures silence after word (R.)
Enliven in us the freedom to let mystery be (R.)
The joy to celebrate new discovery (R.)
The readiness for laughter when it rises (R.)
The grace to listen with humble love (R.)
The awe and wonder to hear you speaking in us. (R.)
Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory Be. Amen.