Canto 3 Paradise: In His will–peace

In His will is our peace. This is a prominent theme in Augustine’s Confessions. It is all throughout the Divine Comedy. It is all throughout Christianity.

In the first sphere of heaven, the sphere of the moon, Dante speaks to Piccarda. She says, “Brother, the virtue of our charity brings quiet to our wills, so we desire but what we have, and thirst for nothing else.”

Isn’t the detriment to our souls and wills and peace of mind wanting more and more and hungering and thirsting for things that we should not have? We think our desires will satisfy us because it is what we want. Our wants and needs met.

But our desires are out of order. (Trust me, I’m speaking from my own life, this isn’t armchair commentary). In our desire, we crave things, experiences, people, feelings, on and on. Our appetites (passions) never really assuaged.

There is an order to things. In this order (that God intended) there is peace. But we have free will and choose all the time, to do things out of right order. Are we perpetually lost forever because of screwing up? No. But it takes a long time to turn and heal from the pain we cause others and the pain caused upon ourselves.

I suppose I should give an example: Life: no matter how a child is brought into the world is good. Every child in the womb deserves to live. Many children are born out of wedlock. Is this the child’s fault? Of course not. But the reality is that a child born out of wedlock will have far more difficulties and so will the single parent. Are difficulties overcome? Yes. Is there redemption and goodness that comes out of this situation? Of course. But the reality is hardship. God intended family to be together, marriage its most stable way of bringing a child into the world. And in His will of marriage, there should be peace. (Again, our free will causes other things to happen. But the hope is grace and redemption).

The Ten Commandments are easy examples. Breaking these commandments is a failure to love. A failure to love God and a failure to love your neighbor. We humans hurt others all the time, every single person in the whole world is not free from this. We cause all sorts of problems for ourselves and for others.

So, in His will is our peace. If only I could steadfastly obey God in all things. Never desiring what I should not desire. Always moving ahead and not straying to the left or to the right. Then I would have peace. And I would think if every person was steadfast, the same result would occur. Peace, being content. Doing what should be done. Satisfied with what is given to us. Not craving something that we cannot have or should not have. This is the story of mankind.

But the hope is grace and redemption. There is repentance and there is forgiveness. God give us the grace to desire your will. God have mercy.

(Several insights gleaned from conversations with Dr. Matt Moser, notes from Tony Esolen and Rod Dreher. And from Jon Foreman music.)

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