Are you anxious or worried about something?
Did you know that some saints were as prone to worry and anxiety as the rest of us are? There are many things happening around us today to cause anxiety, great anxiety – The emergence of the COVID Delta Variant, vaccinations, the human tragedies in Afghanistan as a new government takes control, Hurricane Ida’s (strongest to make landfall in US) devastation on human lives and property. It might seem like it’s the end of the world! Each of us can have our own personal crisis or tragedies wreaking havoc on our sleep, relationships, and inner peace.
First, when anxiety strikes you (it’s that tightness in your chest or pit in your stomach), take a little time to step back from it all and take some calming deep breathes – and, as in all things, find the ground of your solace in God.
St. Paul says, “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” [Phil 4:6-7]
It’s said that the words, “Be not afraid” appear in Scripture 366 times – one for each day of the years (leap years included). We need this sort of constant reminder and encouragement, especially from Our Lord Jesus; life can be difficult and is often filled with anxieties, great and small that can rob the joy in your life, let alone shorten it if it continues to fester in you.
The first line of spiritual defense in facing anxieties is the need to quiet one’s life and pray. It’s simple but still hard to make the time to do it. But it works. There is a saying, no matter what great fears and worries we might face, “Courage is fear that has said it prayers.” Prayer reassures us of God’s presence and reminds us of our need to rely on His strength, not our own. I have heard some great personal testimony to this point from some of our parishioners who recently have participated in St. Mary of the Lake/Our Lady of Lourdes Prayer Course.
St. Paul of the Cross advises, “When you notice that your heart is moving away even the tiniest bit from that inner peace that comes from the living faith-experience of the divine presence in the soul, stop and examine what the cause of this anxiety might be. Maybe it is some worry concerning your house or children, or some situation you cannot change at present. Bury it in God’s loving will.” Nothing can happen without the Lord’s knowledge and permission – and as a loving Father, he will never abandon or forget you.
My brothers and sisters, even if (though highly unlikely) the news really was that the world would end next week (I thought it would after the Cubs won the World Series), let us keep the words of St. Teresa of Avila in mind as we go through our daily lives, dealing with whatever worries come our way in life: “Let nothing disturb you, nothing cause you fear. All things pass; God is unchanging. Patience obtains all. Whoever has God needs nothing else; God alone suffices.”