Sunday, February 1, 2015

Living anxiety-free

Well, that's not possible and, frankly, it shouldn't be. My very favorite priest used to add "useless" before anxiety in the prayer ("protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope"). Yes, that was liturgically incorrect and he shouldn't have done it. Still, being a trained counselor, he knew it was the truth. We can't escape all anxiety in this human condition and some anxiety is good for us. If we didn't worry about feeding our family or paying our heating bill, how many people would really get up and go to work every day? You get the idea, I hope, because I'm moving on.

Today's second reading from St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians:

Reading 2 1 Cor 7:32-35

Brothers and sisters:
I should like you to be free of anxieties.
An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord,
how he may please the Lord.
But a married man is anxious about the things of the world,
how he may please his wife, and he is divided.
An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord,
so that she may be holy in both body and spirit.
A married woman, on the other hand,
is anxious about the things of the world,
how she may please her husband.
I am telling you this for your own benefit,
not to impose a restraint upon you,
but for the sake of propriety
and adherence to the Lord without distraction.

What an excellent reading. It seems like I'm hearing a bunch of these readings for the first time. Oh, wait, the last time was 3 years ago? I was pregnant and had 4 kids under 7? Yes! This is the first time I'm hearing it ;0)

I love it because of the last sentence, especially, "adherence to the Lord without distraction". Alas, I believe, these days, even the unmarried are not without distraction. The world is full of "do this, be that, act this way" and the result is a HUGE amount of anxiety. So, what do we do?

Well, every time we let our mind wander, every hour (or two or five) that we don't think of Him, whenever we realize it...turn back. Turn your mind to all things. Offer all of our efforts, no matter how small, to Him. Pray to His Mother, that we may look at all people and things with her heart. Do everything in your power to lead your children, your spouse, and yourself, to Him. He should be the center of our life - every moment.

"If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master's presence. And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back and place it again in Our Lord's presence, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour would be very well employed."
– St. Francis De Sales 

Then, when trials come, walk with Him and go where He leads. Pray for an open heart and mind to understand His path and the will to accept it. Bear difficulties with as much patience as possible, knowing that the trials in this life make us stronger and draw us closer to Him, when we offer up our distress for His will.

Will that eliminate all anxiety? Nope. Still, for me at least, it does provide comfort and focus. It would seem if you are spending time learning about the Gospel, praying the rosary or talking about the Saints, you will be less interested in all of the nonsense happening in the world. Not being "of" the world is becoming more and more difficult. It is so important to realize that, by nature of our being, we are "in" the world. We don't need to add anything else to the equation.

We are blessed!

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