Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Peace and the Scriptures

“PEACE I LEAVE WITH YOU, MY PEACE I GIVE YOU," said Our Lord before his Ascension. "Not as the world gives do I give it to you." (John 14:27) The Kingdom of God which is something brought to us in Christ, St. Paul says to the Romans, is "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Rom. 14:17) What God gives, God must first have. Therefore, the Compendium of the Social Teaching of the Church begins its treatment of war and peace with the statement that "[b]efore being God's gift to man and a human project in conformity with the divine plan, peace is in the first place a basic attribute of God." (Compendium, No. 488)

Violence--the very opposite of peace--is something extraneous to Creation. It was something injected into the divine order, something which "altered the divine order" in the Creation which as "a reflection of the divine glory, aspires to peace." (Compendium, No. 488) As something foreign to the divine order, violence shows itself in both interpersonal relationships and social relationships. "Peace and violence cannot dwell together, and where there is violence, God cannot be present." Ubi Deus, ubi Christus, ibi pax.

The Biblical notion of peace is a positive concept, not a negative concept. Peace is more than mere absence of war, though the existence of war precludes it.  Peace is "one of the greatest gifts that God offers to all men and women, and involves obedience to the divine plan." This peace, which St. Augustine defines as the tranquility of order, is the basis of innumerable blessings which come in its train, including fruitfulness, well-being, prosperity, absence of fear, and joy.* (Compendium, No. 489)

Peace is therefore something within man and something without man.  The peace that resides in a just soul is reflected in ordering of the world about him, in his relationship with others.  Peace is one of the twelve traditional fruits of the Spirit.**   We are commanded try to bring the peace that is within us externally manifest in our relationship with others.  "If it be possible, as much as is in you, have peace with all men." (Rom. 12:18)  Seigneur, faites de moi un instrument de votre paix. Là où il y a de la haine, que je mette l'amour. "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, where there is hatred, let me sow love," begins the Prayer of St. Francis.***  "Blessed are the peacemakers," Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount. (Matt. 5:9), for they are the "children of God."

In this world, peace seems to be elusive.  And yet peace is something to which we are drawn, to which we look forward in the final consummation of the world.  Peace in God is the end of our journey and the bourne of all mankind:

Peace is the goal of life in society, as is made extraordinarily clear in the messianic vision of peace: when all peoples will go up to the Lord's house, and he will teach them his ways and they will walk along the ways of peace (cf. Is 2:2-5). A new world of peace that embraces all of nature is the promise of the messianic age (cf. Is 11:6-9), and the Messiah himself is called "Prince of peace." (Is 9:5) Wherever his peace reigns, wherever it is present even in part, no longer will anyone be able to make the people of God fearful (cf. Zeph 3:13). It is then that peace will be lasting, because when the king rules according to God's justice, righteousness flourishes and peace abounds "till the moon be no more." (Ps 72:7) God longs to give peace to his people: "he will speak of peace to his people, to his saints, to those who turn to him in their hearts." (Ps 85:9) Listening to what God has to say to his people about peace, the Psalmist hears these words: "Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss." (Ps 85:11)

(Compendium, No.490)

Christ is virtually synonymous with peace.  The messianic promises of the Old Testament--promises which are draped with the word peace--find their fulfillment in Christ, the Prince of Peace who is our peace.  (Is. 9:5; Eph. 2:14). "Peace, in fact, is the messianic attribute par excellence, in which all other beneficial effects of salvation are include."  (Compendium, No. 491)  "The Hebrew word "shalom" expresses this fullness of meaning in its etymological sense of "completeness."  It in fact is linked to the name of God himself in the altar that Gideon built.  "The Lord is peace."  Yahweh shalom.  (Jud. 6:24)

The Biblical vision of peace, therefore, is principally the reconciliation of man with God the Father, a reconciliation effected by Jesus on the Cross.  The reconciliation of God and man then flows over into the reconciliation of man and man.  "With this twofold reconciliation Christians can become peacemakers and therefore participate in the Kingdom of God, in accordance with what Jesus himself proclaims in the Beatitudes: 'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.'"  (Compendium, No. 492)

The Christian obligation to work for peace, however, is not to be divided from the proclamation of the Gospel, the proclamation of Christ crucified, Christ risen, and Christ to come again.  It is a fool's errand to expect peace where the Gospel is not sown.
Working for peace can never be separated from announcing the Gospel, which is in fact the "good news of peace" (Acts 10:36; cf. Eph 6:15) addressed to all men and women. At the center of "the gospel of peace" (Eph 6:15) remains the mystery of the cross, because peace is born of Christ's sacrifice (cf. Is 53:5) — "Upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we were healed." The crucified Jesus has overcome divisions, re-establishing peace and reconciliation, precisely through the cross, "thereby bringing the hostility to an end" (Eph 2:16) and bringing the salvation of the Resurrection to mankind.

(Compendium, No. 493)

Christus pax nostra!

Pax Nostra Christus by Heinrich Aldegrever (ca. 1558)  

Quam pulchri super montes pedes adnuntiantis et praedicantis pacem adnuntiantis bonum praedicantis salutem dicentis Sion regnavit Deus tuus!  "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion, 'Your God is King!'" (Isaiah 52:7)
*The Compendium cites to Is. 48:19, 48:18, 54:13, Lev. 26:6, and Pr. 12:20.
**Catechism of the Catholic Church § 1832 "The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: "charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity."  (Cf. Gal. 5:22-23)
***The prayer, while fitting well with Franciscan spirituality, is attributed to St. Francis, but is not in any of his writings.  According to the French professor, historian, and peace activist Christian Renoux, the prayer in the form we have it appears to have been written around World War I.  It appears in its originally French form in the French magazine "La Clochette."


  1. I like how Catholics selectively quote from the Bible. "Peace and Scriptures". Oh-vey!

    Why don't you look up the verse "The Lord God is a Man of War". What is the "Lord God of Hosts" mean? The God of the Old Testament is the Hebrew War God.

    How can you have 'peace' without 'war'? How would you know when you had peace?

    But the Cosmos is not about peace. Why do you think God threw Adam out of the Garden for? so he could have 'peace'?

    Throw that #$T$#^#F# Compendium in the trashcan! I swear.

    The Natural Law is Rythym! How can you have Rythym in life when everything is peace peace peace!

    I hope the Muslims wipe you guys off the face of the earth! Yes, Nature works on the Strong. Well, the Muslims are strong and while Catholics going around with their drums and tied-dyed shirts singing kumba-ya, Muslims are wiping them out with swords. Egypt and North Africa was cleansed of Christians.

    Maybe it is good that Christianity just gets wiped out. It is so weak and silly it deserves to get wiped out.

    1. @WLW: I supposed Christ on the Cross is too weak a Redeemer for you? (It was for Muhammad, and so he refused to contemplate the reality that a prophet of God would end in seeming failure.) You really think that the sword will win out over the Cross? That might makes right? That the blood of martyrs means nothing? That we are better armed if we arm ourselves with the sword than if we arm ourselves with truth?
      Tradition has it that Judas betrayed Christ on the hope that it would usher in armed rebellion and the Messianic kingdom. For Judas, I suppose, might makes right.
      This seems to be your ethic, a vicious ethic, a naturalistic ethic, and not by any means a Christian ethic, despite your claim at being Orthodox.

  2. Yes, I am reminded of the Battle of Lepanto. Maybe, the Catholics there should have turned tail and ran. Just give up. Let's all turn the other cheek!

    That take of Judas is your own. Malachi Martin at the end of his book Keys of This Blood wrote on the Judas complex. It has nothing to do with armed rebellion but with the Liberal do-gooder attitude that you have!

    The Natural Law is "The Good comes thru the Hard". The Good does not come thru the weak and effeminate.

    I suggest you put Keys of This Blood on your reading list to see how much Pope John Paul was a One-Worlder.

    I would complain that you are effeminizing Christianity. At least another Catholic wrote about that The Church Impotent, the Feminization of the Church by Leon Podles. You might want to read that one too!

    "Neither the effeminate will enter into the kingdom of heaven".

  3. In one of his shows of Kojak, Telly Savalas said this in one of the episodes: "Sometimes Cruelty is an act of kindness".

    Only a Greek can say that and its true. The whole episode was based on that. I don't know if it came from him or the writers.

    The Natural Law is "The Good comes from the Hard". Humans have to be hardened. Without that, no good can come from them. The Good is not sentimentality.