If there is one thing that, in recent weeks and months, I believe the world has come to thirst for, it is peace. I’m not so much talking about world or international peace. No, that’s the UN’s job. The peace I’m referring to is ‘interior peace’; the kind of peace which we have much more control over.
From scenes of panic buying at Woolies, to stories about the demoralising experiences of being in lockdown, it’s hard to deny that there is a crisis of peace if people are losing sleep over the prospect of running out of toilet paper. For me personally, and I dare speak for many Year 12 students across Australia, the HSC has become one of the most defining features of 2021, and it has affected us in numerous ways. Not only have we been compelled to sacrifice more hours to study, but even thoughts of “have I studied enough?” or “what should I study tomorrow?” have been tugging at our minds at the dinner table and even whilst trying to get a good night’s sleep.
But, thanks to the wisdom of those who I have known for the past couple of years, I have learnt a number of ways to guard our interior peace.
Order: planning out our days to ensure that we can get through all that needs to be done in an orderly manner helps to avoid that often unnecessary pang of regret at the end of the day as we question ourselves, “have I done enough?”. Setting achievable tasks, with a hint of ambition, and achieving these tasks can be really fulfilling. Fr Sam once gave me the beautiful piece of advice of planning our days in a way that, when we get to bed, we can be content and say, “today was a good day”.
Detachment: this one is tough, especially because it can be easy to become totally engrossed in our preoccupations. To be detached, I have found we sometimes have to muster up the courage to deliver a spontaneous ‘no’ whenever we feel the urge to stick with our preoccupations in excess. In the long run, however, I think it is better to develop self-mastery to quieten our ambitions and realise the beauty of embracing simplicity.
Humility: this one is also tough because of how naturally inclined we are to attend to ourselves. When we contemplate humility, however, we can draw on the words of Anne Frank who wrote in her well-known diary, “no one has ever become poor by giving”. As a matter of fact, I think giving our time and diverting our attention from ourselves to others can bestow upon us a mountain of peace, as, soon enough, our own worries will pale into insignificance.
By manifesting our steadfast and abundant depth of ‘interior peace’, we can make Christ known to many people, and sow the seeds of peace and joy throughout the world. As St. Josemaría wrote in his book The Forge, “the Lord wants his children in all the honest pathways of this earth, sowing the seeds of understanding and forgiveness, of harmony, charity and peace”.
2021 School Captain