What family doesn’t have to deal with conflict? Conflict is everywhere. I have yet to meet a family that hasn’t had to deal with it in some way. How about if we could be the peacemaker in our family? How about if in the midst of chaos and conflict, we remain in peace?
Let me introduce you to St. Elizabeth of Portugal, known to be a peacemaker between her husband and their son on more than one occasion. After, we will discuss what things we can do to bring peace to ourselves and our homes.
St. Elizabeth of Portugal
St. Elizabeth was born in 1270. She was the daughter of King Pedro III of Aragon, Spain. From early on in her life, she loved reading about the saints and imitating their lives. She was betrothed to Dionisio, the king of Portugal when she was 15. He was an ill-tempered man, but he never impeded Elizabeth from doing her charity work and attending daily mass. Elizabeth was a good wife even though her husband was known to be unfaithful to her many times. She remained faithful and even ended up raising some of the children born out of these affairs that Dionisio had. She gave Dionisio children as well. One child was Alfonso, who would be the successor to the thrown.
Alfonso also had a bad temper and hated his father because he felt that his father paid more attention to his children from his mistresses than to his legitimate children. Such was the bitterness he felt for his father that he even ignited a civil war against him. Elizabeth would not hear of it though. She prayed for their reconciliation, offered sacrifices, and intervened between them. At one point, she went to the war zone and knelt in front of her husband begging him to not act against his son. And she did the same with her son, begging him to not hurt his father.
Elizabeth was successful and peace came to her household, but it wasn’t permanent. She would have to intervene several times more.
In the end, her husband converted to the faith before dying. And Elizabeth continued working as a peacemaker to kings.
Being a Peacemaker at Home
To be a peacemaker, you need more than a desire for it. You need to have peace within. You cannot give what you do not have.
St. Elizabeth of Portugal imitated the lives of the saints whose lives she read about. She went to church daily. She was compassionate and charitable. Elizabeth was filled with the peace that only someone in God’s grace could possess.
I just want to make a point before moving forward. Keeping the peace is not giving in to someone else’s abusive behavior just so you don’t trigger anger and violence in them. You are a child of God and as such, you should be treated.
Who is the Giver of Peace? God Himself! He is the source. He is the one that can fill us up, especially when we are running low. Developing a prayerful life brings us peace, love, and hope because we are creating a strong relationship with Him. This is where it all begins. This is where Elizabeth began.
Let’s ask God to give us the gift of peace. That it may become as essential to us as the air we breathe. Ask that peace become part of the lives of your family members as well. Intercede for them in prayer. I’m certain Elizabeth did this many times. Don’t feel distraught thinking that God is tired of hearing your plea, He isn’t. Like a good Father, He wants us to go to Him. And yes, He knows that you want peace, but He also wants you to ask for it. He wants to hear our prayer. So, ask for it.
If you are mediating between two people, or between yourself and someone else, I’d recommend that a prayer be said out loud among all the parties involved before beginning mediation. Why not ask St. Elizabeth of Portugal to intercede as a peacemaker?
A Heart Full of Compassion
There truly isn’t enough compassion in the world. But that doesn’t have to be the case in our homes. Every member of our family should feel that they are heard, understood, and not judged in their home. Home should be a safe place for all of them. This is how peace begins at home. We create an environment where compassion is always overflowing, along with love.
An Attentive Ear
If you need to be the peacemaker between two people in your home, do so with a heart of compassion and an attentive ear. Know that each party will have his or her reasons and they may be valid. Pay attention to emotions. Hurt feelings hurt more sometimes than the disagreement itself. Acknowledge that you hear them, that you understand, and that you aren’t interested in playing judge. You simply want them to know that you are there for them. Be sure to understand what is happening by asking for clarification or stating phrases like, “I understand this is what you are saying…” or “To reiterate, you are saying that you felt … when this happened.”
Lower the Volume
When passions get out of control, we tend to raise our voices. I know that as a Puerto Rican woman, we raise our voices when we are arguing, when we are joking, when we are laughing, heck, even when we are crying. But in a situation where feelings have been hurt, we need to be sure to keep voices from rising. This will help promote a peaceful discussion. Once the volume rises, you can be sure that the discussion will get out of control. So, set this as a ground rule before mediating between the two parties.
More in Common than Not
I would say most people have more in common than they think. They agree on most things. It’s just usually a few things that need a compromise. So, identify what things everyone agrees on. These are great things to be thankful for. Then discuss what needs a compromise trying to meet halfway. Once a compromise has been agreed upon, reiterate what the compromise was and what each party has agreed to. This helps to make sure that everyone understands what they have agreed to.
Know that things do not change overnight. You may have to come back to the mediation table several more times before things are worked out, especially if the issues have existed for a long time and have never been addressed. Don’t get frustrated. Keep bringing it to prayer.
End like you began, in prayer. This time, our prayer is one of thanksgiving. Thank God for this time of listening to each other’s hearts, of agreeing that the relationship is worth saving and that continued peace is the desire of your hearts.
I pray for peace in your life and in your home.
Prayer to St. Elizabeth of Portugal
St. Elizabeth of Portugal is the patron saint of peace, brides, charitable organizations, troubled marriages, falsely accused people, victims of unfaithfulness, victims of jealousy, and widows. Pray to St. Elizabeth of Portugal to help you become a peacemaker.
O God, author of peace and lover of charity,
who adorned Saint Elizabeth of Portugal
with a marvelous grace for reconciling those in conflict,
grant, through her intercession,
that we may become peacemakers,
and so be called children of God.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
If you’d like to deepen this prayer even further, here is a novena to St. Elizabeth of Portugal from Pray More Novenas that you could pray.
Learning about the saints can help us live our lives with more peace, closer to God, and closer to those God has placed before us. St. Elizabeth of Portugal’s life is a great example of living the life of a peacemaker. May her life inspire you to live a life of peace, a life of holiness, a life full of grace.
“If you love peace, all will be well.” (St. Elizabeth of Portugal)
Take Action Today
Had you heard of St. Elizabeth of Portugal? Did you learn something new from her life? What can you incorporate into your own life today?