The Association of Orthodox Youth of the Sacred Metropolis of Ierissos, with the prayers of His Eminence Metropolitan Theoklitos, organized the 12th Functional Youth Meeting at the Sacred Shrine of Megali Panagia in Halkidiki, titled "Peace in our Troubled World", in August 2014.
There they studied peace with God, peace with themselves, peace with others and peace in the Church. There were also extensive discussions.
Some thoughts and opinions were very important. We have written them down, offered them and distributed them for the youth of our age.
- God through the Psalmist exhorts us to "seek peace and pursue it" (Ps. 33:15).
- It is the duty of Christians to be carriers of peace.
- Peace is the mother of all blessings. It is the foundation of our joy. It paves the way for love.
- The basis of peace is love. Without it there is no peace.
- "If you want peace, be prepared for war", the ancient Romans would say, which means:
a. Peacekeeping requires constant battle.
b. Entering the world of peace begins war.
c. War is preferable to a superficial, evil peace.
- In a climate of peace the spiritual life develops. Unfortunately, those who are without God that live in the world of sin want peace in order to sin more.
PEACE WITH GOD
- God is peaceful by His nature. God is the God of Peace and gives peace to people in two ways: through Creation and through Recreation. God Himself has peace, and because His love is unalterable, He remains firm also in peace. Peace in the world is lacking, because it lacks love.
- Christ is "our peace" (Eph. 2:14). Though we were enemies of God, Christ gave us peace and reconciled us with God. Christ brought peace by His incarnation. God took care to restore peace to people with the coming of His Son to earth. God Himself took the initiative through Christ, and reconciled with man through the redemptive work of Christ. The second gift of peace was not a simple agreement, but a shocking event: the union of humanity with the Divine Being. The Panagia expressed the free reception from the human race of this second gift of the peace of God. Eventually peace came to the world with the union of the divine and human natures in the person of Christ and was completed by His sacrifice on the Cross and His Resurrection. The pacification of heaven and earth was attained by Christ "by the blood of His Cross" (Col. 1:20). This is why peace is never lacking.
- The work of reconciliation and pacification with God is the work of the Church. Peace is offered to people through the Church.
- Baptism is the Mystery of Reconciliation with God. We become children of God, children of peace.
PEACE WITH OURSELVES
- God created man peaceful by nature.
- Life in Paradise was a total harmony of peaceful relations. This peace as a gift of Creation had an "imperfection"; it could be lost. And ultimately it was lost, because the First-Formed did not trust God. God remained faithful in His love, but the First-Formed betrayed this love.
- Peace is not a passive, cerebral, superficial and theoretical state, but a dynamic, heartfelt, and deeper ontological state.
- Peace is the vigor of the soul. When a soul loses peace it loses its vigor.
- Let us run to the Mother of God, our Panagia, when we lose peace.
- Peace is the result of all the virtues, but the precondition for increasing the other virtues. All virtues are necessary to achieve peace. Peace cannot exist if one virtue is missing.
A. Acquiring Peace
- Christ brought peace to earth. Peace is obtained by man returning to Christ.
- Peace is gained by repentance. When we approach Him with repentance He sends us where His peace reigns. "Go in peace" (Lk. 8:49). The tears of repentance are the first step to peace.
- The purification of the heart from the passions, attention and self-control keep peace in the soul of man.
- The commitment to our responsibilities is one way that leads to peace.
- Peace is based on truth and in true human relationships.
- Quiet helps with peace. The urban way of life pushes peace away.
- Simplicity gives birth to peace.
- Peace brings peace of thoughts.
- Peace with ourselves and others is based on the proper management of anger. With the virtue of fortitude we manage our anger and it is not destructive for ourselves or for others.
- The soul in pain touches the God of peace. "Patience in afflictions leads to the port of peace. A soul that undergoes grief is grounded in the the love of God, our hope is to paddle to the serene cove, that Christ will give us when He puts us in the port of His kingdom, where peace reigns" (St. Gregory).
B. The Loss of Peace
- The devil is the enemy of peace. He is the source of all unrest and hostility.
- Lack of faith, delusion and heresy drive the peace of God away.
- The passions, such as selfishness, pride, anger, jealousy, lying, calumny and slander distance us from God.
- Carnal delights drive the spirit of peace away.
- Fear drives peace away. It is the fear that comes from sin and the lack of trust in God.
- We cannot have peace if we have our will. If each person cut off their will before God and others then they would always be at peace in their souls. In pursuing our will we lose peace and are filled with disturbance.
PEACE WITH OTHERS
- The Lord calls us to be peacemakers, as the word of the Lord says: "Blessed are the peacemakers" (Matt. 5:9). This is a characteristic of a Christian, the children of God.
- "Acquire peace in your heart, and thousands of people will find peace around you." (St. Seraphim of Sarov)
- Love for enemies leads to peace with them.
- Forgiveness is an offering of peace.
- "Our enemies are the unpaid benefactors of our souls", said St. John Chrysostom. Enemies see our faults better than others. If we correct the faults identified by our enemies, we will soften and pacify souls. This is how the journey to peace with your enemy begins.
- The maintenance of peace with our fellow man is based on sincerity, not in hypocritical submissiveness.
PEACE IN THE CHURCH
- We cannot do anything within the Church without peace.
- Without peace there is no Church. Schisms in the Church tear the robe of Christ.
- Every act of the Church aims at reconciliation, peace and mutual love.
- The Divine Liturgy is the time and place of peace.
- With the "Blessed is the Kingdom..." begins the reign of peace.
- In the Divine Liturgy we have the presence of the Prince of Peace, our Lord Jesus Christ. We have a new appearance of His Resurrection, just as He appeared to His Apostles and blessed them saying "Peace be with you". So also He stands in the midst of the Liturgical Gathering and offers us His peace.
- A precondition for our participation in the Divine Liturgy is peace. Christ wants our peace with our brethren as a sacrifice. "Offered in peace", "an offering of peace, a sacrifice of praise". During the Divine Liturgy we offer ourselves to Christ, and we offer our peace.
- Many times peace is referred to in the Divine Liturgy. It begins with peace ("in peace let us pray to the Lord"), it continues with peace ("peace be to all"), and it is completed with peace ("let us depart in peace").
- During the course of the Divine Liturgy we receive within us Christ, the peace of God.
- By our departure from the church we are called to bring this peace to the world. We are to be witnesses of the life of Christ in the world. Witnesses of the new life of peace.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.