The Peace that Comes from Christ

Written By Fr. Kevin Drew

Our churches are already being targeted for violence, and our worship services are being disrupted, which motivated me to send you the memo last week asking you to be more attentive to security measures on your property.  These attacks may now likely increase …

But for us, as faithful disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, this is cause for rejoicing, for the only reason this is happening is due to the Catholic Church’s consistent defense of the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions, and especially at the beginning in the womb of the mother.

I am convinced that this is a time that God is calling us to live the last beatitude: ‘Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.‘”

That was from a recent letter to his priests by Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco.  I explained to my class here at my parish that the name Cordileone is from the Latin meaning heart of a lion.  And the Archbishop is going to need every bit of that lion’s heart.  For he’s about to be persecuted. 

The archbishop is going to be persecuted by our state-run media, Washington DC elites, and sadly by many of his own priests and brother bishops.  His crime is his refusal to “get with the times” by attempting to change Christ’s teaching so a sick and sinful culture can be affirmed and accommodated.

It’s not just San Francisco churches that are under attack.  Our enemies have called for a nationwide attack on Catholic churches.  They didn’t call for attacks on Presbyterian churches, or Methodists or any other ones.  No, just Catholic ones.  Isn’t that interesting?  Catholics just want to live in peace, do we not?  Isn’t that what Christ said at the Last Supper featured in this passage from John 14:27?

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.

Now, here is something interesting:  According to the rubrics (the rules) in the Roman Missal we use for Mass, it states the priest is to “face the people” and say, “The peace of the Lord be with you always.” Now, we need to understand that this is not a warm fuzzy sentiment from the priest.  No, it is Christ offering the peace.  The priest, remember, is standing in for Christ. That is why for centuries the rubrics (rules) for Mass stated the priest was to keep his eyes cast downward when offering the peace.  That way the ministerial priest and his own sinful personality would decrease, and Christ, the true high priest, would increase.

You see, people are supposed to see Christ, and not the individual priest at Mass.  That is why the priest is dressed from head to toe in priestly vestments, as to in effect, disappear.  And the rule to keep his eyes down was for a very good reason:  It prevented distraction and other temptations. What if, say, there was an attractive woman in the pews, or a wealthy benefactor?  Would not a priest, in his human nature, feel at times he better look at certain people or give a nod or a wink in order to receive human affirmation, or even conduct some earthly business from the altar? 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you
.”

Friends, we all want peace, but the peace that Christ gives is a peace that transcends any kind of peace that can be found on earth.  Do not think I have come to bring peace.  I have come to bring a sword.  What was Christ saying there?  He was saying that He came to wage war on Satan, and that we too, if we want His peace, have to go to war with the flesh and the devil.  

The peace the world offers is just an armistice, a temporary reprieve from harming and killing each other. Christ brings a spiritual sword, and drives it into the earth.  Then He hangs on it. Christ. And the ruler of this world did and does not know what hit him.  That is why Satan has such hatred for the Holy Sacrifice of Mass, and such a hatred for priests.  You see, his ultimate defeat on Calvary is made present at each Mass.  Imagine his hatred, his utter horror at having to experience that over and over again.

There is no peace for Satan.  And there is no peace for those who do his bidding.  That should be quite obvious if you have seen any video footage of abortion activists and politicians who have gone hysterical these last couple weeks.  They are enraged, almost foaming at the mouth over the prospect of people actually getting the right to vote on whether abortion should be legal or not. Some of the footage I have seen is simply demonic.  And I don’t say that lightly.  What I have seen is straight out of hell.

The peace of the Lord be with you always.”

The peace at Holy Mass is offered after the consecration, after bread and wine have become Christ’s glorified Body and Blood.  It is a break in the action.  For the priest, standing in for Christ he has been addressing the Father, not the people.  But then, as the rubrics instruct us, he turns to the people and gives them the peace. And so, Christ, in His glorified body mystically kisses us; He breathes on us as He did on the Apostles on Easter Sunday. This is the peace He promised He would send at the Last Supper, the First Mass.

And it is a real peace.  In fact, for most all of Catholic history, this part of Mass was just called “The Peace,” The Pax in Latin.  Liturgical “experts” in 1970, ignoring centuries of organic growth and tradition, selectively plucked the rite of peace from “ancient” usage and inserted it into modern Mass as an option.  They even changed the name.  It is now no longer “The Peace” but the “Sign of Peace.” 

The inference there could be that it is not a real peace, but just a sign, like a handshake or a hug is just a sign. And this custom of the optional sign of peace came into play when belief in the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist collapsed.  Isn’t that interesting?  They no longer believe the peace is real, and no longer believe the Eucharist is real. They are just signs.

That is why public figures such as various politicians who claim to be devout Catholics, have no fear of God and no fear of their bishop when they approach the altar and consume what you have heard me describe for them is the most dangerous thing in the world to eat.  They not only play with eternal hell fire by doing so, they cause grave scandal and confusion in others.  How then can there be peace when this is allowed to continue?  

The supposed early Church liturgical gesture of sharing of the peace between the lay faithful died out centuries ago.  It most likely died out because it was causing a disruption right before Holy Communion.  It was brought back, as mentioned earlier, as an option, at the discretion of the priest, in 1970, when the priest or deacon was to say: “Let us offer each other the sign of peace.”

In 2014 the Vatican sent out an instruction in regards abuse at this optional Rite of Peace. You see, these last fifty years, in what has become for the most part a meaningless liturgical gesture, great disruption has once again occurred before what should be the holiest and most solemn moment for all Catholics – their reception of Christ’s Body and Blood.  In parishes all over the world this weekend, people will be smiling and talking and even laughing when the priest skips the optional “and now offer each other the sign of peace” and the choir already starts the “Lamb of God” hymn that follows.  This innovation of the sign of peace is a disruption.  It is disrespectful to fellow congregants, and it is disrespectful to the priest, especially if he gave no instruction for people to turn to each other and give a sign of earthly peace.

Now, look around the world today. Look around at a world that is now calling evil good and good evil; a world that is ready to inflict violence on those of us out to defend Christ and the least of His brethren. Ask yourself:

“What is the smart play at this point of Holy Mass?  Should I be back-slapping and kissing and shaking hands, affirming myself and others at this point?  Or should my heart and soul and eyes be focused like a laser beam on the altar, at the Lamb of God who dies so I can live; whose death grants me true peace?”

Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him
.”

Friends, the world is not keeping Christ’s word, and the ruler of this world is coming.  In fact, he is already here.  But do not let your heart be troubled.  The ruler of this world has no power over Christ.  And the ruler of this world has no power over you – if, you, like Christ, do the will of your Father, and keep His commandments.  Will you be persecuted for doing that?  Yes.  But so what?  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven, where the peace of the Lord will be with you always. 

Fr. Kevin Drew is a priest and pastor of the Diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph.  He is well known for his preaching and evangelization.  Fr. Drew attended Holy Apostles Seminary in Connecticut and Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis before his ordination in 2012.