British researcher Scott McCabe has reported that one of the personal benefits experienced by those who regularly take vacations includes the ability to achieve interpersonal serenity, peace, and understanding.
Most psychologists and researchers agree that inner peace is an essential ingredient for health and success. Yet more and more studies are finding that fewer and fewer people are experiencing inner peace.
The nature of our culture does not favor experience. Rushing and pressure at home and at work are constant companions. Tensions and conflicts between the people with whom you have an important relationship put a strain on our most stable relationships. Ongoing struggles with finances, health, and politics add to the feeling of restlessness and restlessness. Is it any wonder that years ago singers sang “Stop the World and Let Me Go”?
Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, better known to us as Saint Francis, was an Italian Catholic friar who lived from approximately 1181 to 1226. Among his familiar words we are encouraged to pray, “Lord, make me a instrument of your peace.
This month, we looked at the reasons for taking the occasional “spiritual” vacation. Just as our emotional and mental health needs time, our spirit also needs renewal and refreshment. Last week we reflected on opportunities to connect with the heritage and traditions of our faith. Today, let’s look at ways to promote inner peace.
Several years ago, Duke University conducted a study on personal tranquility and satisfaction. The study ended with the following remark: “The foundation of inner peace is a faith that inspires you towards greater things and that will give meaning to your life”. Doesn’t it make sense that Paul describes a faith that gives “a peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
Paul also wrote to the Colossians, reminding them that they “have put on the new self which is renewed to true knowledge after the image of Him who created them” (Colossians 3:10).
Isaiah was looking for a Messiah who would be the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Two verses earlier, Paul explained why anxiety can diminish and peace can flourish. The Lord is near (Philippians 4:5).
This summer, take a vacation that allows you to meditate on Emmanuel — God with us. Find your way to peace and comfort. A secluded spot in the Knobs will help you do this.
Nestled in the hills and trees off US Highway 150 on the way to Greenville, a sense of contentment and tranquility rests on the grounds of the Mount Saint Francis Center for Spirituality. Mont Saint-François is a multipurpose complex owned and administered by the Conventual Franciscan Friars. The Mount is maintained as a residence and sacred place of life and prayer for the Brothers.
Its main ministry involves the retreat center which strives to provide opportunities for spiritual renewal to all people, regardless of religious affiliation. In the spirit of Franciscan traditions, the Mount offers retreats for groups and individuals, days of peaceful reflection, guidance and counseling for the spirit, and courses for the community. The Mary Anderson Center for the Arts offers a variety of art classes for the community as well as individual studio rentals in stunning surroundings.
Two striking features of the campus greet visitors upon their arrival at Mont Saint-François. In keeping with the Franciscan spirit of hospitality and care for God’s creation, a self-guided walking pilgrimage highlights 19 outdoor locations that visitors can use to help them reflect and meditate. One of the stops is a breathtaking cemetery preserving the memory of past brothers.
Mount Saint Francis also has a beautiful chapel which enhances the peaceful and venerable campus experience. Mass is held on campus every Sunday. The chapel is open during the day Monday through Friday for individuals to worship and pray quietly. Post-COVID days could eventually see daily services return to the property.
The chapel houses traditional religious features of pews and pulpits, but is framed by fascinating works of art captured in stained glass. Windows are more than something that adds to the aesthetic.
The light is an important symbol in many religions and was an important part of early church buildings. The stained glass provided a certain level of privacy above the ordinary window without blocking incoming light.
But stained glass windows in churches in the European Middle Ages were used to educate people who could not read. The scenes painted in glass taught the main stories found in the Bible. The scenes were often enhanced by the presence or recognition of church leaders among the saints and the papacy.
Br. Don Bassana graciously pointed out the intricate window design as we walked through the chapel. We both stopped in front of the portrait of the nativity and the baby Jesus. Although our spiritual journeys have taken very different paths, we both begin the excursion in a nativity scene. We end the route on flat ground at the foot of a cross.
The Psalmist asks God to create in him a pure heart (Psalm 51). After a short time spent on the Mount Saint Francis campus, I left with a refreshed mind, a heart full of energy, and a spirit that had been touted as a calm and peaceful treasure.
Even a cursory study of the life and ministry of St. Francis reveals a simple but uncompromising truth. Greed causes suffering to both its victims and its perpetrators. Paul identifies greed as a form of idolatry. Francis may have learned that his control provides the key to the door to true peace.