One of the Messianic titles of Our Lord is “Prince of Peace”. Wherever Christ’s spirit reigns there is an atmosphere of true peace. This should be especially true of an individual Christian’s own inner state. No matter what his circumstances he finds himself with peace of heart.
Unfortunately, as we know, this is often not the case. A person can have faith and be staying out of mortal sin, and still be experiencing anxiety, sadness, and various other morbid preoccupations. Partly this is due to the weakness of our human nature. In other part it is aggravated by the inhumanly fast-paced, technology-driven life we lead.
In the “Providence of books” there is one book, in particular, I can highly recommend to people who are seeking to learn how to recover or maintain their peace of heart under adverse conditions. This book was written by a Spanish Jesuit priest, Fr. Narciso Irala, in 1944. Its title in English translation is: Achieving Peace of Heart. It has been recently reprinted by Roman Catholic Books in a hardcover edition and it is also readily available on the used books market.
Fr. Irala himself had experienced a nervous breakdown in his youth and was helped back to mental health by the Jesuit psychologist Fr. Laburu. Not only did he personally benefit from Fr. Laburu’s skill and insight, but he also developed a deep interest in how to devise methods for dealing with human problems. Later on in his life, he spent ten years as a Catholic missionary priest in China and gained an extensive knowledge of Oriental psychology.
One of his key insights is that so much of our mental stress problems come from an imbalance between our subjective inner world and the objective world of reality. The practice of simple, straightforward methods to direct our thoughts to concrete outer reality (for example, focusing the mind on what our senses are perceiving in our immediate environment) has a marvelous effect of relieving us of obsessive thoughts and that tearing-ourselves-apart-inside. He writes:
Although intellectual error brings many to the precipice of evil and disgrace, wanton feelings and emotions are responsible for many more physical tragedies.
To my knowledge this is the best and most generally suitable self-help book that is out there for people who are striving to realize that peace which Christ promises in their personal emotional lives.
Your thoughts are the limit of your activities. No one takes a single step further than his convictions. If you imagine to yourself that you cannot do this or that, you will never do it. “Posse quia posse videntur,” the old Romans used to say. “They can because they think they can.” Aside from the times when you need the ministrations or advice of a professional physician, your six best doctors are sun, water, air, exercise, diet and joy. They are always there waiting for you. They cure your ills and do not cost you a cent.
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Pastor’s Note from the Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Bulletin for December 6, 2009