We can say with truth that he who has peace is happy. A light-hearted shepherd-boy was tending sheep, one bright spring morning, in a flowery valley, between wooded hills, and singing and skipping about for very joy. The prince of the country, who happened to be hunting in the district, saw him, called him, and said: "Why are you so peaceful and happy, my little fellow?"
The boy did not know the prince and replied: "Why should I not be happy and at peace with the world? Our most gracious prince himself is not richer than I am." "Indeed!" said the prince; "let me hear all that you have." "Why," replied the boy, "the sun in the bright blue sky shines as pleasantly for me as for the prince, and hill and valley are as green for me as for him. I value my hands more than a hundred thousand crowns, and I would not sell my eyes for all the jewels in the prince's treasury. In addition to this, I have all that I desire; because I never wish for anything more than I need. Can you say that the prince has more?" The good prince laughed, made himself known to the lad, and said: "You are right, my good boy; and the prince perfectly agrees with you." What salt is to food, peace is to life. The best dishes do not taste well when salt has been omitted in their preparation, and all we may possess, good health, great riches, honor and reputation, cannot constitute happiness without peace. What an unhappy home where father and mother do not agree. As soon as they open their eyes in the morning, anger and bitterness arise with them, and they quarrel from morning till night. In consequence of such discord families are often reduced to poverty. If there be a happy life it is a peaceable life. Nothing tends so much to make life sweet and agreeable as peace.
On the banks of a certain river which flows through the southern part of this country there was, in the year 1834, a village of huts erected by negroes. Through the zeal of missionary fathers who dwelled there, many embraced the Catholic religion. So long as the good fathers remained, these poor negroes gave great edification by their fervor and piety, but when the fathers left, this fervor began to diminish. Strife arose and evil tongues made trouble, especially between a certain man and his wife, and their quarrel was carried so far that they even refused to eat at the same table. Their unholy conduct became a source of scandal to the community.
When one of the missionaries happened to visit the village he was informed of the quarrel of this couple. He directed that they should be brought before him and said unto them: "My children, you must mutually forgive each other. Jesus Christ commanded that you should love one another. In the name of Jesus Christ, therefore, forget the past and renew the love you formerly had for each other."
The missionary's words caused a great change of heart to come upon them, and they exclaimed: "O Father, it is true that we have sinned, and we humbly ask God's pardon." Then, turning towards his wife, the husband said: "I forgive you; will you also forgive me ?" "From my heart!" she answered.
The good Father fervently thanked God for this happy change. "My children," he said, "I feel assured that from this time your lives will be full of peace and harmony." The solemn promise they had made was sincere, as was proved by their fidelity in keeping it.
Children, we must learn to preserve peace by being patient with others. Each and every one of us has his faults. None of us are saints. We may find many things in our companions hard to bear; we must look up to Jesus and the saints, who endured the greatest insults with heavenly patience.
There was a little girl whose name was Louise. One evening after her good mother had tucked her into bed and kissed her goodnight, she said: "I was a peace-maker to-day, mamma." "A what, dear?" said her mother, who had never heard her use that big word before. "A peace-maker," said Louise. "You know what that means, mamma, don't you ?" "But how were you a peace-maker, Louise? I did not know there was any quarreling." "Oh, it was not anything like that," said Louise; "it was just that I knew something and didn't tell it." Then, of course, her mother knew that her little daughter had heard some mean, naughty story about one of her little friends and had kept it to herself and told no one. In the same, beautiful way, you and I, like little Louise, can be peacemakers.
We can suppress bad stories by not telling them. We can kill bad thoughts by not harboring them. We can be silent about the bad, and think and speak and feel only about the good.
The blessing of peace shows itself when we share the joy and sorrow of our fellow man, sharing happiness and pain like the members of one large family. Sympathy unites the hearts, whilst the want of sympathy separates them. Oh, how it does hurt us to see those who are near and dear to us care nothing about our welfare.
Felix Mendelsohn was one of the greatest musicians of the world. His beautiful music is loved and played wherever people love and play music. One day he went to an old cathedral where there was a wonderful organ. Felix had often had a desire to play it. On entering the sacred edifice he found an old man in charge of everything around the church. He asked permission to play the organ, but the old man shook his head, and said, "No, no, no, that can never be;" no stranger can ever be permitted to play that wonderful instrument. Mendelsohn begged so hard to be allowed to play that at last the old man gave his consent and the great musician began to play. The man listened and never in all his life had he heard such wonderful music.
Now, boys and girls, your life and mine are just like a great music instrument. There often comes One to us who asks permission to make use of our talents and of our time. He is not a stranger. His name is Jesus, and if we let Him, He will bring forth from our lives the most beautiful music. He will turn our discords into peace, and fill all life with harmony and happiness.
Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God. These words show how dear to God is the cause of peace, since our Lord pronounces blessed those who promote it, and declares that they are the true children of His heavenly Father. Peace with God and peace with one another. Whoever, therefore, promotes this two-fold peace by converting the sinner to God, and by healing or preventing quarrels among men, inherits this blessing, and shows himself to be a true disciple of Jesus and child of God.
Source: Story Sermonettes for the Children's Mass, Imprimatur 1921