“The world will never be the dwelling place of peace, till peace has found a home in the heart of each and every man, till every man preserves in himself the order ordained by God to be preserved” (Pacem in Terris, 165).

Can peace find a home in the heart of each and every person? Yes!  This new year begins by remembering this as we celebrate Mary, Mother of God, on January 1. For Catholics, this feast is a holy day of obligation because following fresh from Christmas the immediate connection must be made that Mary is the mother of God. There is a profound mystery here: God relied on Mary to come into the world; Peace entered the world because He found a welcome place in the hearts of Mary and Joseph. We all want peace for our world, we see the need for peace, and true peace cannot be manufactured, it comes only from Jesus. This is an important lesson for Catholics.

St. Augustine said Blessed Mary “conceived in her heart before her womb,” and like our Blessed Mother, if we want peace in our world you and I must conceive Christ in our hearts. Peace in the world requires much work, and yet, the spiritual reality exits before and extends beyond the physical reality. Peace is not the work of humankind, but is born into the world when humanity cooperates with God.

We get this backwards. Pope St. Paul VI so beautifully put it on the World Day of Peace on 1 Jan 1972: “If you want peace, work for justice.” He called “all mankind living” to “accept once more our invitation to celebrate the Day of Peace!” In the face of gross injustice, he called humanity to action, to work for justice. This is critically important, but it cannot be the work of humanity alone -- peace is beyond our ability to manufacture. Our world may speak of working for justice but refuses to speak the name of Jesus. Sometimes we take on causes, we champion them, we sacrifice ourselves for them, but we can forget about Jesus. We are left with nothing more than a “tyrannical peace.”

For us Catholics, we labor to become a “glowing point of light in the world… [and we do so] in proportion to [our] degree of spiritual union with God". So we look to Mary, Mother of God, as our example of becoming a dwelling place of peace. She abandoned herself to God’s plan for her; she allowed the spiritual to come before and extend beyond the physical world. She became the dwelling place of Peace, the mother of Peace. She is Our Lady of Peace, the Mother of God who gives witness that the more deeply we are united in spiritual union with Jesus -- when He receives the place of honor in our heart, we supernaturally work for justice and become dwelling places of peace in the world.