Thought for the Day – 1 February – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Everybody desires peace but very few people possess it.
A good many profound and beautiful definitions have been attempted.
Cicero called it “tranquilla libertas,” which one might translate as “undisturbed freedom.”
His general idea was that there can be no peace without liberty.
St Augustine defined it as “Hominum ordinata concordia” (De Civitate Dei, XLX, 13) or “Ordered agreement among men.”
St Thomas Aquinas followed on the same lines when he said, that peace was “tranquillitas ordinis” (Summa Theologiae, II-II, q.29, a1 ad 1) or “tranquillity of order.”
There are three necessary elements in peace.
They are order, harmony and liberty.
Right order is the most important.
Everything in us must be in it’s proper place.
As we have shown in the preceding meditation, our lower faculties must be entirely subordinate to right reason and, this must be completely subject to the law of God.
Every act of rebellion against this proper order, creates confusion in our nature and makes peace impossible.
Furthermore, there must be harmony and agreement.
This means that our minds must voluntarily accept and embrace this just order and not merely endure it with reluctance.
As St Thomas Aquinas says, peace is an act of charity, it comes indirectly from justice and directly from charity. (Summa Theologiae, II-II, q 29, a1, ad 3).
We have perfect peace when this just order holds sway within us provided that we are not enduring it, as if it were a yoke but lovingly accepting it, under the inspiration of divine charity.
This is that genuine peace which gives us the liberty of the sons of God, that freedom from evil, with which Christ has set us free (Cf Gal 4:31, 2 Cor 3:17).
True peace flourishes in an atmosphere of goodness and perishes when it encounters evil.
Whether it is in the field of social relations or in the spiritual life, peace without liberty is not peace at all but slavery and death!