Welcome to WINE’s Summer Book Club! We are reading and discussing Blessed Are You: Finding Inspiration From Our Sisters in Faith by Melanie Rigney. We’re so happy you are joining us! We pray this book club will bless you and give you tangible ways to live the Beatitudes in your daily lives. We look forward to hearing from you in the comments section, throughout our time together.
By Sarah Damm
In Chapter 7 of Blessed Are You, Melanie Rigney takes a look at the beatitude of peacemaking and gives us several perspectives from very unique saints. We meet Dorothy Day, Josephine Bakhita, Catherine of Siena, and Elizabeth of Portugal. Each woman exudes peacemaking in her own way—from peaceful protesting to peaceful diplomacy. But what their peacemaking efforts share in common is an amazing ability to find peace within their own hearts—despite painful or challenging situations—before bringing peace into their corner of the world. As the iconic song says, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
As an only child in a family that was crumbling all around me, I longed for peace within my home. But as a young girl, there was very little I could do to keep adults from arguing and eventually divorcing.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
I have no miracle story of how I brought peace to a broken home. But perhaps even the longing for peace kept me under the wings of my Heavenly Father as His little girl.
You see, one of the hardest parts was the loneliness. There was no brother or sister to go through this devastation with me.
Decades later, I finally healed and was able to recognize that Jesus, my brother, remained a steady figure in my life, no matter what my reality. I was never alone during those tumultuous years; He was sitting with me, feeling my pain, offering His pain on the cross over and over again for me. This healing realization brought me peace, “which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
Now, as a wife and mother, I am in a better position to extend peace to my family. So often, I am the one my children turn to when their world is flipped upside down. I am the mediator between quarreling siblings, looking for resolution. I am the shoulder to cry on when a classmate is cruel. It takes a lot of mental energy, patience, and creativity to keep the peace. But as a mother, it comes with the territory.
The snag in my peacemaking efforts happens when my life is filled with busyness and distractions that leave me exhausted. I get caught up in good work even when it is not in line with God’s will for my life. Then, I am too tired to extend a gesture of peace to my children, and I dismiss them with a “can we talk about this tomorrow?” Almost immediately, I recognize the distorted way I am handling my vocation and the realization that I didn’t take much time that day to be present to God or my family.
It is the Lord’s way of reminding me of the times He sat with me during my childhood. “Remember how lonely you felt, Sarah? I was there for you. I am there for your children, too … but right here, right now, it is through you that they will encounter Me.”
St. Catherine of Siena was onto something when she built “a cell inside her mind.” She needed a place to retreat, even while she continued to live in the world. There, in the solitude of her mind and heart, she encountered Christ in profoundly personal ways. It was only when she maintained interior peace that she reentered the world and began to impact others.
We need a cell, too, my friends. We need a place to go—whether that is the Eucharistic Adoration chapel, the living room, or the front porch—where we can find solace with God. This space will allow us to discover peace from our past, clarity in the present moment, and confidence that the Lord is guiding us into the future.
Then, and only then, will we be instruments of peace in our corners of the world.
To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:
- Have I experienced unrest in my life—a divorce, family conflict, difficult work situation, illness? How can I take one step toward peace beginning to take root in my heart?
- How often do I strive to do good works in my family and community, only to come up against adversity because I have not first consulted God’s plan for my life?
- Do I have a regular prayer place—a “cell” in which to retreat when life seems hectic and crazy … and even when it’s not? How has consistent prayer time helped maintain my inner peace?
YOUR TURN: Below in the comments box, please share your thoughts, inspirations, and reflections on Chapter 7, and/or your responses to any of these questions.
Next week, we’ll cover Chapter 8: Persecution. For the complete reading schedule and information about our online book club, visit the Read Between the WINEs Summer Book Club page.