One of the best but least recognized spiritual guides is Saint Leonard of Port Maurice
(1676-1751), a Franciscan friar known for his preaching in defense of the Immaculate Conception. He offered four “rules” to help achieve peace of soul.
1. To be attached only to God. Status and wealth may be beneficial, but to be overly concerned about them is to invite inner spiritual havoc. The soul’s primary need is communication with its Creator. One needs to view objects and persons in reference to God and His will if peace is to reign. To be “dead” to the world and creatures is paramount.
2. To surrender to Divine Providence. All Catholic spiritual writers are unanimous on this point: Sanctity and inner peace are attained only when God’s will holds sway. The Lord knows best. Humbly accepting His will is vastly different from reluctantly putting up with it. When a person yields to the divine plan, he demonstrates a belief that God will sustain him—come what may.
3. To welcome suffering and hardship. Human nature tends to resist difficulties. Yet, spiritual perfection entails carrying the cross of Jesus. Scorn and rejection from others—while hardly pleasant—must be seen as an opportunity to experience solidarity with the suffering Christ.
4. To undertake only that which our situation in life demands. Often a person takes upon himself too many activities at once.
“The more, the better” does not necessarily apply in the realm of good works. Prudence dictates what one can accomplish. Inner turmoil may spring from a plethora of activities, even when they are morally good acts. Prayer and counsel will determine what to undertake and what to forego.
“Happiness of soul occurs when a person conforms himself to Christ through acceptance of the Father’s will. Only then may one experience the peace which the world cannot give.” (cf. John 14:27).
Father Mangan is a priest of the Diocese of Sioux Falls (South Dakota). He was ordained to the Priesthood in 1989. He currently works in the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.