We gather to celebrate the beautiful feast of Christmas, a lovable tradition, established and handed down to us through the centuries. As the year comes to a close, we look back to find that last year ended in similar circumstances: generalized chaos and confusion as risks increase. Presently our situation is similar to last year’s with an even greater potential for confusion and even greater risk, while a general atmosphere of apprehension spreads over the whole country.
Peace in Truth is found in the Holy Roman Catholic Church
Yet, at this Yuletide, we recall the angelic chant to the shepherds on that rustic and poetic first Christmas Eve as the angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to men of good will”.
Yes, peace is tranquillity, but not just any tranquillity.
St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that “peace is the tranquillity of order“. Where there is order there is real peace. Where there is an absence of order there is no peace. What exists is a veiled disorder, an artificial order, but no real peace.
Peace exists, rather, in churches where Catholic doctrine is professed in its integrity; where people all love, understand and feel the same way because they are imbued with the Divine Holy Ghost, who is eminently a Spirit of Peace.
In temporal society we find this peace in a very few places, namely at such gatherings as these, where people live who indeed strive to give glory to God in the highest and, therefore, peace on earth reigns among these men of good will.
But you who are a supporter of South Africa Needs Our Lady are also an agent of peace. You savour this peace, you appreciate this peace, you take it to your families, and thus bring them the law of Christ, the Faith of Christ, the order of Christ and the Reign of Christ. As you take into your families the doctrine of His Holy Catholic Church and live by its sweet rule and yoke, you have true peace.
This is the peace that our Lord Jesus Christ wanted to bring to the world and which He expressed in these magnificent words: Pacem relinquo vobis, pacem meam do vobis, “I give you My peace, I leave you My peace.” Which means, He gave them His peace, which is the tranquillity of order, leaving this gift to men, to the world, at the time that He was about to leave earth to ascend to heaven.
Great and small gather around the manger
So, let us approach that heavenly crib of Jesus Christ, the King of Peace, the descendant of a regal dynasty from which also descended Mary Most Holy and Saint Joseph, who, nevertheless, now kneels in the capacity of a humble carpenter before the Saviour just born of his spouse, the Virgin Mother.
And before great potentates draw near the crib with precious gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, God wished for humble shepherds to approach and be received with tender love. Even the ox and the donkey were invited to warm Baby Jesus with their breath.
We must be soldiers of peace and soldiers of order
All this is peace; all this is order. We should be soldiers of peace and soldiers of order, fighting in an orderly manner as true soldiers of Christ in the Reign of Christ.
But aren’t these terms, peace and fight, contradictory? Isn’t peace concomitant with non-aggression? So how can we be “soldiers of peace”? Likewise, how can we call ourselves “soldiers of order” in case of war, when war is such a huge mess?
Nevertheless, peace is present when one fights against disorder through order. This must be well understood. Peace, the peace of Christ in the Reign of Christ exists when men are in order. But this peace does not exist only in non-combat. There is peace also when one fights for order against disorder.
There was also a great battle in heaven between Saint Michael, the Archangel, and the angels of fidelity and obedience against the angels of infidelity and disobedience. It was so great a battle that Scriptures describes it for us as a great battle was fought in heaven.
So, even at this moment peace did not cease to reign in heaven, because the good were on the side of God fighting to expel from the heavenly mansion the devils who, as agents of disorder, had become unworthy of it.
If there was a war in heaven, it was a war of health against disease, a war of life against death, a war of good against rebellious evil. This battle, by the very fact that it was a battle between what should exist against what should not exist, in itself is order.
In the contemporary world we are precious agents of peace in the measure that we fight against evil angels and those who are dedicated to spreading evil, the agents of war.
So also in the contemporary world we are precious agents of peace in the measure that we fight the evil angels and their minions in their multifaceted attack on faith, morality and good customs.
The peace that we desire for the coming year is the peace of order against the agents of disorder. Only then will we have the peace of order in the tranquillity of order. So, let us be agents of order in the coming year, not only because we refuse to engage in useless battles, but also because we do choose to engage in the good fight of which Saint Paul speaks when he said of himself as he lay dying: “Lord, I fought the good fight, now give me the reward of Thy glory.” If we do this in the coming year as we have done this year, we can end the year with peace and hope.
In this generation of thieves and adulterers let us be souls on fire, souls burning with love and strong warriors engendered by Faith. We were not born only to rejoice, or mainly to be happy. We were born, above all, to fight; we were born, above all, to serve the Holy Catholic Church.
Then whatever the furore of evil throughout the world, whatever their threats, we are agents of peace, we are children of Mary, and we are fighters of good order. Thus, by the grace of Mary we may say like Saint Paul and the end of next year: Lord, throughout this year we fought the good fight. Give us now during this year the reward of Thy glory.
Adapted from a message of Prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveira to Supporters on in 1992 at a Christmas gathering – Plinio Correa de Oliveira: Thomas Aquinas on Christmas