Pope Francis: Peace which is not tranquility.

In his daily, non-Magisterial of-the-cuff fervorino Pope Francis said this (remember, the Vatican doesn’t give us everything – they cut it up into little snippets they deem important and thus take everything out of context… I digress):


“Jesus was full of joy, full of joy,” explained the pontiff, quoting Jesus’ words from Luke’s Gospel when, from the intimacy with his Father, the Lord proclaims “I rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and I praised the Father.”

This “is precisely the internal mystery of Jesus,” stated the Pope, “that relationship with the Father in the Spirit. It is His internal joy, the interior joy that He gives to us.”

“And this joy,” he explained, “is true peace,” which is not static, quiet or tranquil.


Peace that is not tranquil.

Peace ≠ tranquility.

What ran through my mind is the ineffable quote of Piccarda in the Paradiso:

In His will is our peace.
It is that sea to which all things move,
both what it creates and what nature makes…

E ‘n la sua volontade è nostra pace.  In His will is our peace.


Our hearts are restless…

Somehow, peace is … not rest?

Perhaps in this life.

St. Augustine spoke of love as being his “gravity”.  The ancients thought that things had to seek the place to which they were supposed to go and that was their “gravity”, an internal force.  Augustine said: Amor meus pondus meum… My love is my weight.

In this life, so long as we on being drawn to the place of rest, we are at rest, at peace, in the hic et nunc, the here and now… which, as I think of it, are so important in Jesuit spirituality.  When we are on the way in the right direction, we have a peace which is not tranquil because, by being in our groove, our gravity zone, properly attuned, we are in untranquil peace.

Otherwise,… the Pope was just talking off the cuff and said something that, well… who knows….?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. suedusek says:

    Not real sure what you’re trying to say…

    I think peace is more than the absence of conflict. It also encompasses health and wholeness and well-being. I think there is certainly a component of joy mixed in.

  2. Tamquam says:

    I’m inclined to think that God’s peace is not static. The few times I’ve felt what I imagine to be the peace of God it strips away my frenetic, jangling energy and brings a power that while at rest, reorganizes everything in an instant and leaves me clean and ready to move.

  3. mike cliffson says:

    “peace” is a cold word in English anyway. Absence of strife.
    I have been told, Im not a hebraist, that “shalom” is a much “warmer” and dynamic word , closer to a (Godfearing OT, not feminazi nor new age) idea of ongoing individual “fulfillment” in this life : Health , growth, the blessings of spouse and offspring , atticking along nicely at one’s farming or job or profession, family and material blessings , and their tithing and sharing…..
    And somewhat secondarily , social peace – if society is working organically , then diferences are resolved in the mechanism. Hence the greeting.
    And Christ ups the ante : MY peace I give you !God’s peace!
    NOT as the world understands it!
    Which around you is the worlds turmoil and hate and persecution?
    So – how about the underused oldish English word, “heartsease”?
    What, even , or especially, to a very hardworking Latin is the stereotype, but with truth init , “rest” or “peace” or ” tranquility?”
    Often the OdoubleFF switch at every level!


  4. Odhren says:

    Yeah…who knows. One can say that about a lot of stuff he says. Promethean jibber jabber…can’t remember the rest of it. Who knows.

  5. Unwilling says:

    Well! That is quite a meditation, Fr Z.
    Perhaps Francis will make Catholics of us all yet.

  6. samwise says:

    Yet another translation “no entiendo”

    In spanish, ‘tranquilo’, doesn’t exactly line up with the english ‘tranquil’. It’s more like a slang word, ‘cool’ or ‘chill’.
    My guess is that the Pope was referring to this sense, and intended to differentiate between ‘paz de Cristo’ and ‘tranquilo, silencio’, etc.

  7. OrthodoxChick says:

    Speaking of peace that does not bring tranquility…..You called it dead on, Fr. Z.

    A few days ago, you posted a story about Pope Francis disguising himself as a priest and sneaking out to help the poor. You said the mainstream media would pick up that story and run with it.

    Sure enough. I have ‘Fox and Friends’ on and they just came across with a report about Pope Francis sneaking out to help the poor, reported by Brian Kilmeade.

    So there you go! I’m sure they’ll also post the story on their homepage before day’s end.

  8. The Masked Chicken says:

    This does confuse issues, just a bit. Joy and peace are separate things connected by charity. Peace, from the time of Augustine (and later St. Thomas Aquinas) was that tranquility that flowed from right order (Tranquillitas Ordinis – City of God, Book 19). Peace is a nested function, to use computer terminology, where lower orders are subservient to higher orders. In terms of physics, it is a state of minimal energy. It is, by definition, an inactive state or, to be technical, a state of equilibrium, where there may be much activity, but no net loss or gain within the system. When a
    system is perfectly at peace, there is nothing that it fears to lose and nothing it needs to gain, although there may be mutual exchange of energy within the system. For an extended discussion, see the Summa II.II Q. 29.

    Joy, on the other hand, is not the same thing as peace, although both flow from charity. From Summa II.II Q. 28

    “I answer that, As stated above (I-II, 25, 1,2,3), when we were treating of the passions, joy and sorrow proceed from love, but in contrary ways. For joy is caused by love, either through the presence of the thing loved, or because the proper good of the thing loved exists and endures in it; and the latter is the case chiefly in the love of benevolence, whereby a man rejoices in the well-being of his friend, though he be absent.”

    Now, joy is a pull from the passions and it can be perfectly satisfied:

    ” Now joy is compared to desire, as rest to movement, as stated above (I-II, 25, 1,2), when we were treating of the passions: and rest is full when there is no more movement. Hence joy is full, when there remains nothing to be desired.

    Joy is fulfilled at the same time that peace is fulfilled, but joy pertains to desire, in the first place, and peace pertains to order, in the first place. A desired that is fully ordered is peaceful. A perfectly fulfilled desire that is peaceful is joyful. Desire is active until it us fulfilled. Since Jesus was binary in nature, his joy was unlike ours: it was active in humanity (always seeking a God), but passive in divinity (perfect fulfillment in the Godhead). Our joy will always be active in this life, as will our peace, because of the effects of Original Sin: neither order nor desire can be perfectly realized, although we can come close (cf. the notion of the Transforming Union of St. John of the Cross, where we more perfectly participate in God’s life).

    Just some things to think about.

    The Chicken

  9. loyeyoung says:

    I am reminded of the hymn by the Catholic playwright William Alexander Percy:

    They cast their nets in Galilee just off the hills of brown;
    such happy, simple fisherfolk before the Lord came down.

    Contented, peaceful fishermen, before they ever knew
    the peace of God that filled their hearts brimful and broke them too.

    Young John who trimmed the flapping sail, homeless, in Patmos died.
    Peter, who hauled the teeming net, headdown was crucified.

    The peace of God it is not peace, but strife closed in the sod,
    Yet let us pray for just one thing–the marvelous peace of God.

    Happy Trails,
    Loye Young
    San Antonio, Texas

  10. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I thought of Dorothy L. Sayers’ in-character Oxford sonnet from her book Gaudy Night, in which the first part is written by her character Harriet Vane, the second by Lord Peter Wimsey:

    Here, then, at home, by no more storms distrest,
    Folding laborious hands we sit, wings furled;
    Here in close perfume lies the rose-leaf curled,
    Here the sun stands and knows not east nor west,
    Here no tide runs; we have come, last and best,
    From the wide zone through dizzying circles hurled,
    To that still centre where the spinning world
    Sleeps on its axis, to the heart of rest.

    Lay on thy whips, O Love, that we upright,
    Poised on the perilous point, in no lax bed
    May sleep, as tension at the verberant core
    Of music sleeps; for, if thou spare to smite,
    Staggering, we stoop, stooping, fall dumb and dead,
    And, dying, so, sleep our sweet sleep no more.

  11. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    And then there is Becket’s sermon in Murder in the Cathedral (of which there is fine 1968 audio performance by Paul Scofield ‘out there’), considering different senses of ‘peace’.

    Perhaps the Holy Father sketched a similar distinction in senses of ‘tranquil’ (in the unquoted part) – about true tranquillity amid action (like scourging the Temple – a good Advent image, interestingly taken up, together with the sheep and goats, in some Dutch popular depictions of St. Nicholas and the children who have been bad and good), and agonies of the Passion, not appearing so ‘tranquil’.

    Masked Chicken, when you say, ” Our joy will always be active in this life, as will our peace,” was that not also true, in its own way, of Unfallen human joy and peace, because not yet perfected, made final?

    And, in the pondering and explication of perfection, what of the ‘epektasis’ which Danielou speaks of in commenting (persuasively? convincingly?) about St. Gregory of Nyssa, a sort of asymptote of ‘ever better’ (with which might also be compared the imagery of the end of Lewis’s Last Battle)?

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