Spiritual Rest: Finding Peace in a Restless World

The Quiet Soul at Rest

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken …  Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. [Psalm 62:1-2;5].

Rest requires struggle. Inner peace is a constant battle. We must be emotionally firm, unwavering in compassion, resolute in our commitment.

This means that we can become spiritually exhausted unless we find refuge in submission to God and delights in his will.

The quiet soul rests is incessant in longing for the sacred. Fear of Divine displeasure marks its steadfast faithfulness, its resistance to temptation and its staunch loyalty. It is always alert, avoiding betrayal of its beliefs and adhering to compassion.

Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee. [St. Augustine, Confessions, Ch. 1.1].

Signs of Contentment

We must remain in a state of constant thankfulness. Worldly challenges and preoccupations represent no more than spiritual reminders to us — signs that call us to trust in God and depend upon Divine mercy.

Peace does not dwell in outward things, but within the soul; we may preserve it in the midst of bitterest pain, if our will remains firm and submissive. Peace in this life springs from acquiescence to, not in exemption from, suffering. [Francois Fenelon, Selections from the writings of Fenelon, p. 247].

As faithful believers, we desire no more than what God provides. We are confident that whatever blessings God measures out for us is more than sufficient.

So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. [Matthew 6:31-33].

Restless Lifestyles

Often, our lifestyle presents obligations and demands that we feel compel to address with our own wisdom. We chose to rely our own understanding of reality and ignore Divine guidance.

The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. [Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, 2].

Arrogant self-reliance can lead us into an endless loop of self-centered egotism that allows for no rest. We continually insist on carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders, unable to pause for even a moment of relief.

Prostrate thyself before God. O my soul, know that the Lord He is thy God, it is He that hath made thee, and not thou thyself. O God, I am the work of Thy Hands; henceforth I will not seek to rest in myself, who am nought. [St. Francis of Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, Ch. 9:4].

Lust for worldly affluence, transient pleasures and delusive ambitions, can prevent us from rejoicing in the fruits of our faith. When we are not content with Divine sustenance, we continually seek contentment in our own efforts.

Accept, O Lord, my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my will. All that I am and have thou hast given to me; and I give all back to thee to be disposed of according to they good pleasure. Give me only the comfort of thy presence and the joy of thy love; with thee I shall be more than rich and shall desire nothing more. [Ignatius of Loyola].

Spiritual Rest

To find rest, we need to separate ourselves from the lifestyle we have adopted — from our friends, job and family, even from ourselves. If only for just a few moments in which our mind can refocus, we must change our perspective of reality.

The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. [Psalm 116:5-7].

We must find a balance between our physical activity and our spiritual reality. Each has its claim on us. Recognizing our obligation to both is essential to finding true rest. When our life is engrossed in physical activity, we actually try to find rest in more activities, in some sort of alternative action.

Here is, in truth, the whole secret of Yoga, the science of the soul. The active turnings, the strident vibrations, of selfishness, lust and hate are to be stilled by meditation, by letting heart and mind dwell in spiritual life, by lifting up the heart to the strong, silent life above, which rests in the stillness of eternal love, and needs no harsh vibration to convince it of true being. [Patañjali, The Yoga Sutras].

Temporal desires cannot rival Divine celestial blessings. When we are conscious of the Ultimate, what other pleasure can we seek?

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. [Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)].

As our piety and righteousness grow, God, alone, becomes our reward. Nothing else has value.

He guides unto Himself all who turn unto Him — those who believe, and whose hearts find their rest in the remembrance of God – for, verily, in the remembrance of God [men’s] hearts do find their rest –: [and so it is that] they who attain to faith and do righteous deeds are destined for happiness [in this world] and the most beauteous of all goals [in the life to come]! [Quran 13:27-29].

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