Blessed Fr. Sopocko
Peace and the Mercy of God
The following article by Blessed Michael Sopocko — whose feast day we celebrate Feb. 15 — was first published in the Spring 1956 issue of the Marian Helpers Bulletin. Blessed Michael was the confessor and spiritual director of St. Faustina.
As a house on a foundation so our faith is based on the truth of the Resurrection. "… and if Christ has not risen, vain then is our preaching, vain too is your faith." (1 Cor 15:14). In order that the faith of the Apostles in this truth might be strengthened, our Savior often showed Himself to them, permitted Thomas to touch His wounds, and greeted the Apostles with the words, "Peace be to you." Why did He not speak to them thus before His Passion? Because then the work of Redemption was not completed. However, after the eternal enemy of mankind was crushed, original sin removed, reconciliation completed between God and man whom He adopted as His children, He permitted Himself to be called Father, and peace, therefore, returned to earth, "Peace be to you."
1. What is peace? Peace is tranquility of order which, according to St. Augustine, depends upon the order with oneself, with our neighbor, and with God. Peace therefore is not the same as concord. Concord may be had even among perverse people who pool their strength together for wrongdoing, but peace is not to be found among them: "There is no peace to the wicked." (Is 48:22).
Order with oneself rests upon internal harmony inasmuch as the lower bodily powers are subject to reason and will, which subjection gives us peace of conscience. Order with our neighbor is based on our loving them as ourselves and rendering to each his due. Finally, order with God amounts to our knowing, praising and loving Him as well as fulfilling His will.
Sin upset that order. It destroyed internal harmony within us so much so that in our present condition our intellect and will are beclouded and bound and dragged by our passions prompting us to acts contrary to reason, and causing in us qualms of conscience which are the greatest misfortune for man. Sin destroyed order with God because sin is a revolt against His will. It destroyed also the order with our neighbor; instead of mutual love people hate one another, do not render to each his due but rather wrong their fellow men by denying them the right to life and means necessary to keep them alive
It is in that manner that every worldly man seeks peace and happiness without being able to find them. "Where are you hurrying, O man, on the road of life? Why do you strive for the summit so laboriously? Why all this toil, labor and fight?" "I desire peace," answers he, "I desire to reach the goal and rest therein. I seek comfort, delight, happiness because man exists for these." However, instead of peace, they find disputes, family quarrels, competition and war of social classes and states. Why? Because they refuse to acknowledge God as their Father, and, consequently, they cannot see themselves as brothers. They feel internal discord which nothing and no one can remove from their hearts.
2. There are two who want to give mankind peace; the world and Christ. The peace of the world is external; the peace of Christ is internal. The former ends in confusion and collapse; the latter terminates in victory, strength and everlasting peace.
Christ brings wonderful peace, true peace, "such as the world cannot give." His peace does not consist in external concord with others, but above all in concord with God, that produces concord within oneself, a peace of conscience. "A new commandment I give you, that you would love each other." This is a necessary condition of peace with our neighbor. "But I say to you, love your enemies." (Mt 5:44).
True peace is given by Him alone who removes the cause of unrest which is sin. The Most Merciful Savior by His death on the Cross created an inexhaustible treasury of His merits. After His Resurrection He set up the Sacraments through which the Church applies those merits to individual souls. First of all, by the Sacrament of Baptism original sin is removed, and in the Sacrament of Penance, which was established on Resurrection day, sins committed after Baptism are forgiven. Through these Sacraments the Divine Mercy pours down true peace unceasingly on those who receive them worthily.
He who does not avail himself of those Sacraments finds his life a torture. Even though he be surrounded with the riches and splendor, without the Sacrament of Penance he is like one who lies on a soft bed strewn with thorns. On the contrary, he who properly uses those Sacraments of God's Mercy has internal peace and happiness; he is cheerful for he possesses true peace which soothes the sufferings and miseries of his life. He is at peace with his neighbors whom he loves as brothers, whose labors he respects, whose faults he forgives, and whose forgiveness he begs. Above all else he is at peace with God Whose Will he fulfills and to Whose infinite Mercy he is grateful for having forgiven him his sins.
True peace, therefore, flows only from God's Mercy in the Sacraments of Baptism and Penance. This is the reason why Christ after His Resurrection greeted the Apostles with the words, "Peace be to you," and repeated His greeting twice while instituting the Sacrament of Penance. This is also the reason why the Church in the Mass of Low Sunday reminds us of God's Mercy in those Sacraments and encourages us to praise His Mercy, "Praise ye the Lord, for He is good, for His Mercy endures forever." (Ps 105:1)
For more information about Blessed Sopocko, please visit thedivinemercy.org/sopocko.