Embodying the life of Christ, the Prince of Peace


By Sam Aitchison
The Church is Alive!


From the war-torn landscapes of Ukraine and the terror-stricken shores of Gaza to the meaningless school shootings happening too often in our own country, it can seem like we live in a dismal time. All over the world, people are suffering physically from lack of food, water, shelter and safety. People are suffering emotionally and mentally, coming from broken families, strained relationships, loss of loved ones and confusion about their meaning in life.

As we prepare for the birth of Christ, the Prince of Peace, how do we as Catholic Christians exemplify him in our lived experiences in a world filled with hurt? Christ entered the world incarnate, to save us and give us new life in him. How might we embody the life of Christ as instruments of peace?

Our faith is alive because of Christians who passed down rituals, stories and experiences that we hold close to our hearts. Among them are the saints, who embodied the life of Christ and still serve as our models today. Their lessons and insights transcend time, such as those of St. Ignatius of Loyola, a 16th century saint who provides a great example of how to be people of peace.


St. Ignatius began his adult life focused on less than saintly pursuits: the care and pride of his noble status, impeccable physique and battlefield success. When a cannonball struck his leg, he almost lost his life. During his long convalescence, he read books on the life of Christ and of the saints because he had nothing else to read. He came to realize that his life was heading along the wrong path and that the secular world had enveloped him. Through God’s grace, Ignatius went on to become the founder of the Jesuit Catholic order and inaugurated renowned prayer and meditation techniques known as the spiritual exercises.

In this season of Advent, maybe we won’t have a cannonball strike us (I hope none of you readers out there do!). How can we be “struck” to recognize our need to facilitate peace and work for God’s kingdom in our lives?

St. Ignatius provides some insights. He said, “We should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life….Our one desire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which we are created.”

This insight led to institution of the principle known as “Ignatian indifference,” which is the capacity to let go of everything I cannot control and that does not help me to love God and others while staying engaged with what does. 

Ignatian indifference is not apathy. Indifference is not a lack of care for the world and suffering but of being open to how God speaks to our role in this life. It is about being open and trusting of his plan for us and for our world and keeping an open mind to pray constantly to live authentically.

There are times that God calls us to engage in the corporal works of mercy such as feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. There are times that God calls us to fervent prayer when situations are out of our control. The key is “letting go and letting God” — allowing him to work within us and through us.

Although we do not fully understand why evil and suffering exist, Christ commissions us to focus on working for justice, mercy and peace. Embodying these virtues starts with us. What steps can we take to orchestrate peace in our lives? How can we work to be cognizant of and respect those with whom we disagree? How can we trust more fully in Christ to lead us to embody his life as a prince of peace?

(Sam Aitchison is a sophomore at Saint Louis University. He can be reached at samaitchison6@gmail.com)

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