As the world gets darker and becomes more evil with its headlong embrace of abortion, pornography, homosexuality, adultery, atheism, worldliness, euthanasia, divorce and remarriage, lack of reverence for the Eucharist, not going to Mass on Sundays, etc., it’s so easy to become discouraged and to get all caught up in the negative zeitgeist of this age. And if we do get caught up in all of this unadulterated evil, worry about the past and anxiety about the future will surely overcome us. Why? Because worry and anxiety are a direct byproduct of sin, whether we commit the sin or others close to us do. Worry and anxiety are a lot like the interest we have to pay on our credit card debt. Running up debt on a credit card may be fun when we’re buying all of the things we like, but in the end, we have to pay it all back, with a LOT of interest. This article will delve into some helpful hints about how to overcome the effects of all this wicked deception.
The Psyche of Anxiety and Worry
First and foremost, some people are just prone to be negative. They worry about not worrying enough, as if worrying about something will alleviate the situation. Negativity and pessimism about life breed even more worry and more anxiety about the future. These people may need to see a physician and get prescribed medication. Additionally, eating foods that contain tryptophan, a naturally occurring amino acid that boosts the mood-enhancing serotonin levels in our brain, may be what’s needed as well. Avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol, a known depressant, may also be helpful for the pessimist. Being around positive people, instead of brooding about problems all alone, helps too. Sometimes, we have to jettison friends who continually drag us down in their misery or sins. Getting lots of exercise and Vitamin D with sunshine is also a great mood enhancer. Listening to great music like the William Tell Overture or your favorite oldies can also be beneficial.
Avoidance of Sin and Going to Confession
The second thing we must be aware of is the avoidance of sin. Sin is kind of like a boomerang when we toss it. It feels mighty good to throw it sometimes, but the devil makes sure that it comes back and hits us in the back of the head later on, and usually with excessive force, when we least expect it. If one commits mortal sins over and over again while leading an immoral lifestyle of debauchery, then Satan’s recompense will be failure in life, even with our best efforts, and worry and anxiety about EVERYTHING. A sinful lifestyle is like a house of cards that just collapses on us over time. Soon, depression will set in, and then it’s all downhill from there psychologically. Even when we don’t sin like this, close family members who do can cause us worry and anxiety over their lifestyle.
If this is our situation, we must first stop sinning, do an examination of conscience, and then go and make a good confession. Confession is even more powerful than an exorcism, because confession is a grace-filled sacrament, while exorcism is just a sacramental. By going to confession and having a firm purpose of amendment to turn our life around, all of our sins are immediately forgiven by Jesus Christ himself, who instituted this sacrament in John 20:21-23. The confessional box is a lot like the tomb of Jesus, who went into the tomb dead, but then came out alive. We also go into confession dead with our sins, but then we come out alive, filled with life-giving sanctifying grace. After the priest gives us absolution, then we must atone for our sins with our penance.
Eating our Daily Bread
The Eucharist, aka our daily bread, which is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, must become the center of our lives. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life.” Jesus himself told us in the Lord’s Prayer to “give us this day OUR DAILY BREAD,” which is an allusion to the manna from heaven in the Old Testament, given daily to the wandering Israelites in the desert. Since the manna stopped when the Israelites entered the Promised Land, there is only one other daily bread given by God which is available to us, and that is the supernatural bread from heaven known as Holy Communion, or the Eucharist. Just as the Israelites wandered in the dry and barren desert filled with wild beasts, snakes and scorpions, we today wander in this dry and barren secular culture filled with abortion, pornography, atheism, and hatred of Christianity. And just as the manna gave the Israelites daily sustenance to keep them physically alive in their desert, the Eucharist today gives us daily nourishment to survive spiritually in our secular desert. This most powerful sacrament which gives us eternal life is like the fruit of the tree of life known as the cross, and it therefore overcomes Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden, which led to death. By having Jesus abide in you and you in him, worry and anxiety will eventually be alleviated.
What better way to overcome darkness than to light a candle? During the 1950’s, Father James Keller of the Christophers would have a Public Service Announcement before the TV station went off the air. The short message by Fr. Keller would always end with the slogan, “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” That message is so relevant today. So many of us watch the evening news or listen to talk radio and just get angry at all of the negativity, bias, and violence that is occurring in our society today, which, in the end, only accomplishes negativity, worry and anxiety. Wouldn’t it be better to light a candle?
And just how do we light a candle? For sure, we can go to our local Catholic Church and physically light a candle in the chapel for a specific cause, i.e., for the return of a loved one to the church, for healing of a physical malady, for the forgiveness of a friend, etc. That is a great thing to do. We can also ask a saint to pray for these intentions as well, because there is no human holier than a saint in heaven, and his/her prayers are very powerful. Saints can intercede for us 24/7/365, even when we are asleep or at work. Revelation 5:8 says that the saints present our prayers to God in the form of incense.
But one of the best ways to light a candle in the world is to receive the Eucharist daily, because then you have The Light of the World inside of you, and the devil REALLY hates that. He craves deceit and darkness, and if you are all lit up inside with an infinite amount of light (Jesus!), then the world automatically gets brighter. One of the best good works that you can do (faith without works is dead) is to take Holy Communion to the sick and dying. Not only do they become beacons of supernatural light, but when they die, they go to heaven and start praying for you, which will also help to overcome your worry and anxiety.
The Bottom Line
All of this can be summed up by putting your total trust in Jesus. It would surely alleviate a lot of your anxieties and fears, if Jesus were to appear to you and tell you that He has your life in His hands and that everything will work out just fine in the end. But then the question becomes, “Why do we need an apparition of Jesus to believe that if we TRULY have faith in him?” Faith, after all, is believing in something you can’t see. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says that “We walk by faith, not by sight.” Trials in life are Jesus’ ways of testing our faith. A good way to think of this life is to compare it to Marine boot camp, which really tests young adults with lots of pain and suffering. In the end, those who don’t wash out become great warriors. And if we don’t wash out in Christianity and just give up our faith, then we too shall become great warriors in the Church Militant here on earth, and then in the Church Triumphant in heaven after death. That, after all, is our true destiny.
St. Peter’s Example
St. Peter actually walked on water when he kept his focus on Christ. Once he took his eyes off of Jesus, the problem solver, and focused squarely on the problem, the roaring waves, he began to sink with worry and anxiety. The lesson-learned from this episode in the Bible is to keep your eyes on the prize (Jesus!), and not on the problem at hand. The more one truly trusts in Christ, the more powerful one’s prayer becomes. The Divine Mercy image of Christ has the words “Jesus I Trust in You” at the bottom of the picture. This is more than just a slogan. It is also a great little prayer to say over and over again to help us overcome our doubts and fears when confronted with an anxiety attack.
Advice from the Saints
“Do not have any anxiety about the future. Leave everything in God’s hands, for he will take care of you.” ‒ St. John the Baptist de La Salle
“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.” ‒ St. Teresa of Avila
“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.” Remind yourself that nothing can happen without the Lord’s knowledge and permission and as a loving Father, He will never abandon or forget you.” ‒ St. Paul of the Cross
“Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.” ‒ St. Padre Pio
Biblical Quotes on Anxiety and Worry
Matthew 6:25: Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Matthew 6:27-33: And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.
John 1:5: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Philippians 4:6: Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.