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Questions and Answers

Then what about peace on earth? How will there be peace if we don’t work to make it happen?

Outline of the Answer
• On Earth, Peace
• Men of Good Will
• Willing to do God’s Will
• Either Peace or Division

 
That’s a reasonable question, given that each time you go to Sunday Mass (outside of Lent and Advent) the Gloria is sung, and you hear the words, “Glory to God in the highest and peace to people of good will.” This opening line of the Gloria comes from Luke 2:14, translated in the New American Bible as “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” But take a look at the Latin text of the Gloria: Glória in excélsis Deo et in terra pax homínibus bonæ voluntátis. Literally translated, this says, “Glory to God in the highest and, on earth, peace to men of good will.”

 
Men of Good Will

Many listeners today have a problem with hearing “men” of good will. And that’s why the official English version “sanitizes” the text to make it palatable to the general public. But the truth is, political correctness and theological correctness are mutually exclusive; you can’t serve two masters. Moreover, if the general public learned some Latin there wouldn’t be a problem.

The Latin word homines is a generic term referring to both men and women, in contrast to the Latin word, vir, for a man—a male hominus, so to speak—and the word, femina, for a woman. So when English translates homines as “men” it means both males and females. Notice also that the Latin text of the Gloria never refers at all to “people” (which, in Latin, has it own word, populus). Therefore, the proper translation of the Latin text “homínibus bonć voluntátis” is “men of good will,” not “people of good will,” and for good reason.

In English, men refers to the entire human race, whereas people refers to members of a natural group having in common traditional, cultural, or historical ties.

What are men of good will? Well, the only good will is God’s will, so “men of good will” are those persons, both male and female, of the entire human race, who do God’s will, keeping His commandments in reverent obedience and living in chastity of body and soul. They aren’t just the people of a select natural group but rather they anyone of the entire human race who pray to the Father, “Thy will be done”—and really mean it in their hearts, rather than just say the words along with all the other “people.”

But notice that we are all men of free will, also. This means that to do God’s will is to, well, to will it. And that is the core of the problem with peace on earth.

 
Willing to do God’s Will

The text in terra pax homínibus bonæ voluntátis is telling us that peace is given only to those individuals of good will; that is, those who will to do God’s will. Peace isn’t something that God can just hand us on a silver platter. After all, if God made us do something against our will it wouldn’t be a genuine act of love.

Therefore peace—mental, spiritual, or social—really depends on freely willing to do God’s will.

We cannot have peace by trying to build it as an end in itself.

We cannot have peace by disturbing the peace with protests.

We cannot have peace by trying to follow a conscience uninformed by the Magisterium of the Church.

We shall have peace only through obedience to God by using our free will to empty ourselves of all that is not God’s will.

  

Even the Holy Spirit cannot make us do God’s will. We have to respond to divine grace by willing to do God’s will. Then the Holy Spirit can give us the courage, the strength, and the guidance to do God’s will.
 
But as long as there are parts of you resisting—or angry at—God, then you will be unable to recognize the guidance of the Holy Spirit even as it is being offered.

  

 
Either Peace or Division

So, if you want to work for peace, then first of all work on seeking peace in your own heart through true nakedness of spirit and spiritual purgation. Then—having set aside your TVs, video games, mobile devices, social media, sporting events, magazines, newspapers, beer, cigarettes, nail polish, and shopping—work on praying constantly with your every breath that men of self-will will repent their sins and be converted to the true Faith.

Read an excerpt about peace from a sermon
by Saint Leo the Great, pope

 
Ironically, the very fact that so many “people” look for easier—and contradictory—ways to “make” peace through human effort is the reason there isn’t peace in the world in the first place.

Remember, Christ warned us plainly that He did not come to establish peace on the earth. Mark His words well. Christ came to establish division (cf. Luke 12:51).

And what is this division? Well, if you compare the texts of Luke 12:49–53 and Matthew 10:34–36, you might realize that it is the division between the people and men of good will.

 

Peace is not the comfort of having everything go smoothly, just as you would like it to go; peace is the confidence—the peace of heart and mind—of believing that no matter what happens, no matter how much a trial it may be, God will give you the courage and strength to do whatever needs to be done to fulfill His will.

 

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