Sleep in Heavenly peace
At the compostion of Silent Night in 1818 Europe was hardly at peace. The ravages of the French revolution were still fresh in everyone’s mind and the growing class struggles that would mark the century were beginning to emerge. The old way of looking at the world died in the years of revolution and new ways began to appear. In short, people were looking for a direction in life. As the 19th century progressed, a multitude of options presented themsevelves and those familiar with this period refer to it as the time of “isms””: nationalism, industrialism, capitalism, communism, just to name a few of the possible directions offered. The church attempted a recovery after the onslaughts of the French revoltuion and offered Christianity as a viable option to the materialism of the century. Heaven was not just a destination, it was a way of life as stated in the Our Father: “on earth as it is in heaven.” Peace, as many realized, could only occur by directing one’s life towards God. It is not surpriseing that in the 19th century there were so many Marian apparitions and an increase in the devotion to Saint Joseph. Mary and Joseph were held as models of compliance to the Word of God and in this compliance they were insturments of God’s will and of God’s peace. Peace, as the great saints have noted, only comes about when one’s goals are fulfilled. Therefore, no peace will ever be established if it is contrary to our fundamental nature, which, as Ignatius stated, is union with God. During this Christmas season when we are called to live lives of peace, we need to examine those values and desires for which we labor and strive and ask ourselves how these directions are the best means of bringing God’s gift of peace.