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Peace Beats Happiness Any Day

May 20, 2014 by  
Filed under Book Club, Sarah Reinhard

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The Sinner’s Guide (Week 7 of 16)

But none of them will ever be fully satisfied, for passion is as insatiable as the daughters of the horse-leech, which continually cry out for more and more. (Cf. Prov. 30:15). This leech is the gnawing desire of our hearts, and its daughters are necessity and concupiscence. The first is a real thirst, the second a fictitious thirst; but both are equally disturbing. Therefore, it is evident that without virtue man cannot know peace, either in poverty or riches; for in the former, necessity allows him no ease, and in the latter, sensuality is continually demanding more. What rest, what peace, can one enjoy in the midst of ceaseless cries which he cannot satisfy? Could a mother know peace surrounded by children asking for bread which she could not give them?

The Sinner's Guide, Chapter 19, Paragraph 4

Life is a search for happiness, isn’t it? We’re supposed to be happy and content and full of vigor. But, in that church, week after week, my view shifted. I began to see that happiness didn’t matter, not really. As I gave up on reading five books at once and praying every known prayer in that endless hour of silence, I got to know Jesus in a new way.

In my growing up, Jesus was a pal. He was the one who saved us all and who rose from the dead. He was my personal Savior, and I could talk to Him anytime. He was always there beside me.

The problem was, in my youth and then again when I entered the Catholic Church, that I didn’t talk to Him. I didn’t focus my thoughts heavenward, and I’m not sure I really understood what it meant to have Jesus walking there, side-by-side with me on my journey through life.

In those early-morning hours at Adoration, Jesus on the altar and me in the pew, I got to know Jesus better. At first, I had a special intention. It was a heartbreaking, life-rending intention. Some days, I sat in Adoration and just let the tears flow. Other times, I gripped a rosary and felt sure that if I only prayed hard enough, long enough, often enough, surely the answer would be “yes.”

My image of Jesus altered from one of a remote older guy who couldn’t possibly know what my life was like to that of a friend, about my age, dressed in jammy pants. As I sat in the pew, often writing in a journal I started, Jesus put His arm around me, let me lay my head on His shoulder, smiled as I shared my concerns and triumphs.

This peace I discovered at Adoration spilled over into the rest of my life. In the midst of a pace that kept me juggling seven things at once and sleeping five hours a night, I began to re-prioritize. Given the opportunity to change jobs — to give up the career that I had planned to take over the world with — I took it. Given the blessing of children and involving them in my work life — a move that wouldn’t be possible without the grace of God and the gift of patience from above! — I took it.

Peace involves conversion. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines conversion as “a radical reorientation of the whole life away from sin and evil, and toward God.” I’m a convert to the Catholic Church, and I often get comments from lifelong Catholics to the effect of “Oh, no wonder you’re so passionate — you’re a convert!” But conversion is not a point in time or a stop on the journey. Conversion is the journey.

Happiness is overrated. It’s elusive. It’s like water in my hands, something I’m always grasping and unable to describe. Peace, however, is not.

Peace has come to be an umbrella for me, protecting me from the onslaught of life. Maybe a better image is that of a special shield all around me. I want to be a source of peace for those around me, but to do that, I have to have peace myself. And to have peace, I have to be listening to God.

Louis of Granada further emphasizes that peace is a direct result of virtue. The image of virtue as something dull and boring just got trumped by the experience of peace in my life. Bring on the virtue!

Reading Assignment:

Week 7: Chapters 20-23

Discussion Questions:

1. How do you experience peace in your life? What's the virtue underlying the peace?

2. What can you do to grow in virtue so that you might experience peace in your life?

Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

Read more: Previous Book Club Posts

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About Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to delight ”and be challenged by” her vocations of Catholic wife and mother. She's online at and is the author of a number of books for families.

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