Daily Catholic Advent Reflections: Day 13 Anxiety
We are accustomed to anxiety and stress all too well. There is rarely a moment in our days where we are not faced with some level of anxiety or pain. The stress of duties imposed upon you whether it be of work, family, friends, etc. can be overwhelming. However, inevitably there shall come a time when great distress finds us and renders us pinned down in absolute chaos. These are of the anxieties that are deep reaching and often most difficult to withstand such as a death of a loved one or financial/emotional/spiritual ruin. What then shall the Catholic do under seemingly diabolical attacks on our peace and well-being?
In a word, we are to pray. Now this is not a 'cop-out' for lack of better terms but rather the ultimate strategy against despair. We simply cannot afford to forgo prayer and expect to be able to deal with life's various twists and turns. This of course means we pray whatever the 'season' may be in our lives; whether the joys of springtime or the pains of winter we are to give place to God as master of our lives. It is graces that we must seek in order to be given the faith we need to carry our crosses. Keep in mind, there has never been a time our Lord ever said to us that to follow Him was to be a walk in the park. Instead, Jesus made it clear that to follow Him meant to, “Deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow me daily.”
So, prayer is the answer but first, let's recall the easier days of your life when stress was at an all time low if any at all. Do you remember how easy it was to pray? Exceedingly easy! It is not terribly impressive that you pray and pray often in times of relaxation, peace, and comfort; though all pray merits for holiness, but saints are not made in the days where justice and peace is common place otherwise following logic would make us perfect. No, it is when life is the hardest we discover the narrow path spread with thorns to the rewards of Christ. It is when every prayer is like a mouth full of sand that you gain the greatest merit for your penances. It is in the very midst of temptation to forgo prayer that we find our path to the crown of life. Struggle therefore with that temptation to refuse to speak to God or petition the saints for intercession as it is surely a demonic attempt to assail you from spiritual victory.
Now that we know that endurance and persistence in prayer is necessary, what shall we petition God in our distress? Shall we ask God to take away our pain or misfortune that we are obligated to give attention to? If so, then tell me, would it have been good to shield our Lord Jesus from the scourging at the pillar or to protect Him from the crown of thorns or to remove the cross from His shoulders and keep Him from being crucified? Surely these things would have given Jesus comfort and removed from His path great pains and distress. Do you see what I am getting at? I deliberately meant to frustrate your less than stellar petitions to God to remove from you the one thing that might make you holy. Why should you ask God to take away what was destined for you to suffer for His sake for the very purpose of sanctification? How does gold get refined? By the fire! How is the steel of a sword tempered and strengthened? By the fire! How are you going to shed all those things that keep you from Christ? By the fire! Pray therefore for the graces to happily receive whatever is necessary for your salvation even to the point of martyrdom. Is that going to far? To what lengths do you go for security, peace, happiness, and love for you and your loved ones? Then how much more shall we do for the eternal God who loves us and wishes to live eternally with Him in heaven? Pray then that your will be abandoned so that God's heavenly will may be done in, through, and by you so that you are neither puffed up by life's easy moments nor cast down by the hardest. Rather, pray to be fully satisfied in ALL things for the love of our Lord. As Sacred Scripture says, “And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints.” - Romans 8:28