Readings for a Harmonious Life: Peace of Heart, Peace on Earth and Prayers for Peace.
This anthology of stories, essays, poems and prayers is meant to inspire readers of all generations to cultivate peace in themselves, their family and the world. “Not the peace that the world gives” (John 14:27) but the peace of God “that makes all things new” (Rev 21:5).
The Way of Peace is organized into three parts: Peace of Heart, Peace on Earth and Prayers for Peace, which weave into and support each other. The premise of the book is that peace of heart extends itself to peace on earth—and that none of this is possible without God.
Part One sets the table with meditations and practices that help us nourish inner peace. “Peace in the world cannot be made without peace in the heart,” writes Henri Nouwen.
Part Two focuses on examples of individuals from all walks of life who have spread that peace to others. Cultivating inner peace and becoming an instrument of peace are inseparable. “If one is authentic,” writes Franciscan Sister Pat Farrell, “it leads to the other.”
Part Three brings in prayers from all faith traditions that plant the seeds of peace in ourselves and the world. Theologian and novelist C.S. Lewis writes, “God can’t give us peace and happiness apart from himself because there is no such thing.”
The book makes clear that few of us are called to give up our lives for peace as Jesus did, or to work tirelessly for peace like Gandhi did. But each of us can perform the life-changing little things that eighth-grader Riva Maendel, winner of a Maryknoll essay contest, suggests for those her age:
“I will probably never get a chance to put my life on the line like the Christians in the Middle East, but nonetheless, I can take a stand for peace and nonviolence every day. At school, the way I interact with my peers will influence the younger students in our school. I can also show interest and support the local organizations in my community that work for peace: our local police officers, AA and other organizations that work towards bringing peace to those who are trapped in a cycle of violence. Even though our efforts might seem small and insignificant, we are actively working for peace.”
“Peace is not something you wish for,” said John Lennon. “It’s something you make. Something you do. Something you are, and something you give away.”
Other contributors to The Way of Peace include Pope Francis, Dorothy Day, Martin Sheen, Michelle Obama, Maria Shriver, Thomas Merton, Robert Ellsberg, John Dear, Joyce Rupp, Sojourner Truth, Mohandas Gandhi, Maya Angelou, John Lewis, Peace Pilgrim, St. Francis and many others.
The Way of Peace is fifth in a series of books on spiritual values that transform our lives. First came The Way of Gratitude, followed by The Way of Kindness, The Way of Forgiveness and The Way of Suffering. The purpose of the series is to reassure readers that these values reap tremendous benefits, and to offer them some inspiration for the journey.
Without peace in our hearts, there can never be peace in our family or on earth. It begins but does not end on the spot where “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). I hope you find The Way of Peace a beneficial companion on this our communal journey.
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