Way to Inner Peace
Publisher: Martino Fine Books
Publication Date: July 11, 2016
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Bishop Sheen describes the path to inner peace. He begins with humility, then goodness, happiness, virtue, learning, wisdom, and faith. Along the way he expounds on the essential truths that guide the path and help bring about the inner peace many of us seek. A useful guide for those seeking change in their life.
The modern tendency is toward the affirmation of the ego, the exaltation of selfishness, riding roughshod over others in order to satisfy our own self-centeredness. It certainly has not produced much happiness, for the more the ego asserts itself the more miserable it becomes.
The psychological reason for the modern fondness for news which deflates others or brings out the evil in their lives, is to solace uneasy consciences which are already laden with guilt. By finding others who apparently are more evil, one falsely believes he becomes better. It used to be that the most popular biographies were the lives of good men for the sake of imitation, rather than scandals for the sake of making ourselves believe we are more virtuous.
Our modern world has produced a generation of rich politicians who talk love of the poor, but never prove it in action, and a brood of the poor, but never prove it in action, and a brood of the poor whose hearts are filled with envy for the rich and covetousness of their money. The rich man who is humble helps the poor rather than the revolutionists who use the poor to bomb their ways to Stalinist thrones.
Faithfulness in great things is not uncommon; faithfulness in little things is rare but most indicative of true character. Almost any husband would leap into the sea or rush into a burning building to rescue his perishing wife. But to anticipate the convenience or happiness of the wife in some matter, the neglect of which would go unnoticed, is a more eloquent proof of tenderness.
The tragedy of today is that the world is not only tearing up the photographs of a good society, but also tearing up the negatives. By denying truth the world gives up the search for it, just as the man who believes that blindness is normal will never even seek a cure.
The growth of democracy has done much to do away with a false social snobbishness and to keep men humble in their external relations. But it has also, from another point of view, weakened the respect for Goodness and Truth, inasmuch as the masses of people are generally inclined to equate morality with the general level of society at any given moment. Numbers become the measure of goodness. If a sufficient number can be counted who violate a certain Commandment of God, then it is argued: “Fifty million adulterers cannot be wrong.”
There is a marvelous peace that comes into the soul if all trials and disappointments, sorrows and pains are accepted either as a deserved chastisement for our sins, or as a healthful discipline which will lead us to greater virtue.
The more we inflate our ego the less important God seems to be. The sick man recognizes the need of a physician; the ignorant mind sense the need of a teacher; and the soul which recognizes his own unworthiness yearns for God to complete his personality.
Love that desires to limit its own exercise is not love. Love that is happier if it meets only one who needs help than if it met ten, and happiest if it met none at all, is not love.
Joy is the happiness of love ---love aware of its own inner happiness. Pleasure comes from without, but joy comes from within, and it is, therefore, within the reach of everyone in the world. For if there is sadness in our hearts, it is because there is not enough love. But to be loved, we must be loved; to be lovable, we must be good; to be good, we must know Goodness; and to know Goodness, is to love God, and neighbor, and everybody in the world.
If we revolve about what happens on the outside, then the latter determines our moods and attitudes. But if we make what is external revolve around us, we can determine the amount of their influence. Either what is outside makes our moods, or our moods determine our outlook on what is outside us.
What is outside of us is beyond our control; but what is within us can be mastered and woven to any desired pattern.
Our personal dispositions are as window panes through which we see the world either as rosy or dull. The way we color the glasses we wear is the way the world seems to us. To a great extent what we see is colored from the inside, rather than from the outside.
Our generation has been raised on the idea of “self-expression,” which being translated negatively, means there should never be any self-restraint. Every desire and impulse which satisfies the ego is good; any form of self-denial, or repression of biological urges, is considered as harmful to the personality. The ego is flattered and pampered, even to a point where children are raised on the theory that they should never be disciplined, much less punished or reprimanded for their selfishness.
But the will that always insists on having its own way begins to hate its own way. Those who love only for self begin to hate self. Self is too narrow, confining and dark a sanctuary for happy adoration.
Evil is always easier to write about than goodness, because all people have some experience of evil, but not all have a major experience in virtue. The nightmares of despair and melancholy that provide themes for the stage and movies bear witness to the frustration in many modern souls and to their intellectual attempt at purgation by spreading the epidemic.
The great fallacy of all revolutionary movements is that the value of great lives is nullified, either through persecution or character assassination, in the interests of fallacious promises and illusory hopes.
Nothing has so much killed enthusiasm as the pragmatic notion that there is nothing that is absolutely true, right, and good for which one ought to consecrate his life; and there is nothing so evil that one ought to die rather than surrender to it.
Not everyone in our modern world develops social interests because he loves his neighbor in God. There are some who enter social work in order to escape incessant accusing repartee of their consciences. Failing in individual justice, they compensate for it by espousing social justice; they escape the need of personal reformation by going hog-wild about social reformation.
Almost everyone today wants religion, but everyone wants a religion that does not cost too much; that is why Christianity has been watered down to suit the modern mind.
It is not easy to say “no” to oneself; that is why so many philosophers have erected a philosophy of life based on saying “yes” to every impulse and desire while dignifying it with the name “self-expression.”
The more morality and decency and virtue there are in mankind, the more peace there will be in the world. Wars are consequences of a moral rebellion.
A good rule to follow is always to judge the neighbor by his best moments rather than by his worst; not to call him a poor piano player because he hits one poor note in an entire evening, but to judge him because of all the right notes he hit.
Each age has its compensations and also a particular vice against which it must battle. Youth has to struggle against the uncontrolled impulses of the flesh. As dirt is matter in the wrong place, so lust is flesh in the wrong place. In the middle age, the passion that has to be watched is egotism or the unbridled craving for power. Here the unregulated impulse moves from the flesh to the mind, from sex to selfishness, from carnality to pride. In the third stage of life, the tendency to avarice supplants the other two. Here it is not what is within man, namely his body or his mind which distracts him, but what is outside him---the world, riches, and possessions. As if conscious of his life passing he would give a security to his mortality by filling up his barns even to the night the angel requires his soul of him.
Those who have a philosophy of life are not troubled with age. Our last days should be the best days. The evening praises the day; the last scene commands the act; and the music reserves its sweetest strains for the end.
In like manner, many minds today will not accept Revelation or faith because their pride has blocked the inflow of new knowledge. Only docile minds can receive new truth. Pride makes a person insoluble and, therefore, prevents his entering into amalgamation with others. Humility, on the contrary, because of its basic receptivity to the good of others, makes it possible to receive the joys of union with God. That is why Our Divine Lord suggested that university professors will have to become children to enter the kingdom of heaven; they must admit, like children, that God knows more than they do.
The Greek origins of the word patience suggests two ideas: one continuance, the other submission. Combined, they mean submissive waiting; a frame of mind which is willing to wait because it knows it thus serves God and his Holy purposes. A person who believes in nothing beyond this world is very impatient, because he only has a limited time to satisfy his sordid wants. The more materialistic a civilization is, the more it is in a hurry.
No man hates the Gospel so long as he keeps it; but when it rebukes his evil deeds, then he hates it.
The good man on his way home at night wants the street well lighted; the robber or the foot-pad hates the light because it reveals his evil. Religion is loved or hated for the same reason. It all depends on what we are bent on, goodness or evil. There is a blindness which is a result of evil passion, which, if continued, can make us odious of all truth. Agnosticism is not an intellectual position, but a moral position, or better still, an intellectual defense for a life which is afraid of the light.
Those who boast of their open-mindedness are invariably those who love to search for truth but not to find it; they love the chase but not the capture; they admire the footprints of truth, but not catching up with it. They go through life talking about “widening the horizons of truth” but without ever seeing the sun.
The love of noise and excitement in modern civilization is due in part to the fact that people are unhappy on the inside. Noise exteriorizes them, distracts them, and makes them forget their worries at least for the moment. There is an unmistakable connection between an empty life and a hectic pace. To make progress the world must have action, but it must also know why it is acting and that requires though, contemplation, and silence.
Action is the great need of the Eastern World; silence the need of the Western. The East with its fatalism does not believe that man does anything; the West with its actionism believes that man does everything. Somewhere in between is the golden mean wherein silence prepares for action.
After a body is surfeited with pleasures, it reaches a point where there is less satisfaction in the pleasure than in the pursuit of it. Not to be someplace, but the trill of speeding there, becomes the goal of life.
The daily shocks of life disturb man less; the little things are like drops of water he can absorb in the sponge of his masculinity. The woman, however, is more readily upset by inconsequential things, possessed as she is by a rare talent of turning molehills into mountains.
But when it comes to the great crises of life, it is the woman, in virtue of her gentle power of reigning who can give great consolation to man in his troubles. She can recover reason and good sense at the very moment the man seems to loose hi. When the husband is remorseful, sad and disquieted, she brings comfort and assurance. As the ocean is ruffled on the surface but calm in the depths, so in a home, the man is the rippled surface, the woman the deep and quiet stability.
One does not only conclude to the existence of God because there are good things in the world; but one argues that because there is evil in the world, therefore there must be a God, for evil is a parasite on goodness.
Honest of intention, purity and sincerity of motives, the cheerfulness with which we address ourselves to our work counts more before God than the amount of work that we do.
The conditions of a happy life is to so live that the trials and vicissitudes of life do not impose their moods on us. Rather, we become so rooted in peace and inner joy that we communicate them not only to our surroundings, but also to others.
The problem is how to possess this inner constancy of peace which makes the depths of our soul calm, even when the surface like the ocean, is ruffled or mixed with storms or cares. The best way is prayer which gives us independence of moods in two ways; first, it exhausts our bad moods, by telling them to God. The wrong way is to exhaust our bad feelings on human beings, because either they resent them, plan revenge, or they reciprocate by assuming an equally bad mood. Bringing them to God is exhausting them, just like bringing ice to the flame melts the ice.
Archbishop Sheen is known for his preaching and especially his work on television and radio. His cause for canonization as a saint was officially opened in 2002. In June 2012, Pope Benedict XVI officially recognized a decree from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints stating that he lived a life of "heroic virtues" - a major step towards beatification - so he is now referred to as "Venerable."
This book was exactly what I was looking for in a spiritual classic -- and it absolutely is a classic. Take a look at the quotes section for this book. It's absolutely loaded. This is one of the books where it's so good, that you have to take several weeks to finish it because you have to stop after every few chapters. Sheen's words are so rich and full of truth, that you want to fully absorb and digest every little tidbit. His use of metaphor in illustrating concepts is just as potent as any spiritual writer I've seen, including St. Francis de Sales. I do believe that Fulton Sheen could be my new favorite writer on Catholic spirituality. I can't wait to read the rest of his books!