The words “Be not afraid” appear in Scripture 366 times one for each day of the year (leap years included). Life can be difficult and filled with many anxieties and uncertainties, particularly during this pandemic. Jesus told Martha that she was ‘ troubled and anxious about many things’. Martha learned to trust God more and was able to acknowledge Jesus’ life and resurrection.
All of us are called to be courageous and show bravery and strength. One such example of this courage is St. Perpetua, a young noblewoman who had recently given birth to an infant son. She kept a diary in prison. She wrote, “What a day of horror! Terrible heat, owing to the crowds! Rough treatment by the soldiers! To crown all, I was tormented with anxiety for my baby. . . . Such anxieties I suffered for many days, but I obtained leave for my baby to remain in the prison with me and being relieved of my trouble and anxiety for him, I at once recovered my health, and my prison became a palace to me and I would rather have been there than anywhere else”. Both St Felicity and St Perpetua suffered death by been mauled by wild animals and then put to death by the sword. When we compare what the martyrs suffered, our worries and anxieties seem quite trivial. But God offers each of us the same gifts of courage and strength that sustained the martyrs.
Prayer helps anxiety
Prayer is indeed vital to helping overcome anxiety and fear. Fear is not of God. As St. John Vianney said, “God commands you to pray, but He forbids you to worry.” When we face our fears, worries, and anxieties that is taking up the cross. Our efforts in turn are good and brave and serving the Lord. Jesus offers us peace in our hearts if we are open to receive his love and mercy.
Practical tips to help overcome worry and anxiety
- Have a schedule of prayer and stick to it, including morning and evening prayer, prayer before and after meals, and the angelus.
- Go to the sacraments regularly: mass, confession, and adoration. The more time I spend in the Lord’s presence the less I worry about the everyday things in life.
- Hand everything over to God and place it at the foot of the cross. No matter how big or small the problem is, God is there with his arms outstretched ready for you to lay your worries and anxieties at the foot of the cross.
- Consider getting professional help from a Catholic counselor, seek out a good counselor who will help you, and has an understanding of your faith.
- Keep a prayer journal and write down key verses to memorize to help you when you feel worried.
Some scripture verse to meditate on:
I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. (Psalm 17:6)
I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. (Psalm 116:1-2)
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. (Philippians 4:6-7)