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How to Move From Fear to Faith: Your Anxiety Can Lead You Closer to the Lord

 

Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890), ‘Christus Consolator’

In a previous article, I made the point that God’s presence in our lives is the main reason we should have no fear. He’s God, loves us unconditionally and can handle any problem that arises. Keeping that in mind will often be enough to calm our nerves even in the midst of turmoil. Sometimes, however, even the most devout Christians still experience fear. Is this normal? Could it point to an underlying spiritual problem?

First, we need to understand that fear is an emotion, also known as a passion or a feeling. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Feelings or passions are emotions or movements of the sensitive appetite that incline us to act or not to act in regard to something felt or imagined to be good or evil. (CCC 1763)

In themselves passions are neither good nor evil. (CCC 1767)

Even though your brain may tell you otherwise, the Church teaches that there is nothing morally wrong with being afraid. That’s good news, isn’t it? In case you’re still not convinced, the Bible contains numerous examples of very holy people who experienced the emotion of fear. In the pages of Sacred Scripture we see that Moses (Exodus 2:14), Elijah (1 Kings 19:3), David (1 Chronicles 13:12), Mary (Luke 1:30), Joseph (Matthew 1:20) and Paul (Acts 27:24) were all afraid at some point in their lives.  Take a glance at that list of names again. Moses, St. Joseph, the Blessed Mother? That’s a very impressive list. At one time or another, they were afraid. Therefore, the fact that you are afraid at times doesn’t necessarily mean there is a problem with your faith.

When you are afraid, it means that you are experiencing a normal human emotion. Are there times when we are afraid and we shouldn’t be? Absolutely, but I’ll leave that discussion to the psychologists and therapists. I am not a mental health professional, but I know a thing or two about managing anxiety. I have dealt with the panic attacks, digestive issues and sleepless nights. I know what it’s like to be afraid of the future and feel hopeless. Fortunately, I also know that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ can allow chronic worriers like me to live in peace. And, while it’s okay to be afraid, it’s not okay to let that fear lead you to worry. God desires something better for you. Rather than give you a list of when and when not to be afraid, I will encourage you to let your fear be the door that leads you closer to Christ. Whenever you feel afraid, think of the following message from Jesus:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

When you are afraid, Jesus is knocking on your door. If you open it up and let Him in, He will grant you His peace. How do you open the door for Him? Here are some simple steps that will get you started:

1. Pray – It is not possible to have a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ and experience the peace that He wants to give you without praying every day. Make it a point to start your day by saying “Good Morning” to Jesus and ask for the grace that you need to get through the day. Instead of worrying about your problems, ask Jesus to help you with them. I guarantee that He cares (1 Peter 5:7) and will not turn a deaf ear to you. Also, ask Him to help you make it through the day without worrying. How much time should you spend with the Lord? As much as you can, but I recommend that you start with five minutes. If you can’t find the time for prayer, use some of your “worrying” time!

2. Read the Bible – This is something that I avoided for years. Even when I realized that it might be helpful to read the Bible, I was intimidated by its size and confusing language. I now understand that the Lord speaks to me whenever I read Scripture. Reading the Bible daily will put you in direct contact with the Lord and bring you peace. If you are not familiar with the Bible and don’t know where to start, I recommend that you either start with the daily Mass readings (available online or in numerous Catholic magazines) or the Gospel of Mark. He gets right to the point and you’ll read about Jesus performing several healings in the first chapter alone. As a worrier, you need to know that Jesus loves you and can perform miracles in your life. It becomes more difficult to worry when you begin to understand His power and His love.

3. Receive the Sacraments – The Sacraments give grace and allow you to grow closer to Christ. That will result in increased peace. Once I started going to daily Mass and confessing my sins at least monthly, my anxiety level decreased dramatically. What a great gift! Christ instituted the Sacraments to draw us close to Him and help us reach heaven. The closer you are to Jesus, the less you will worry. Don’t make the mistake of trying to conquer worry on your own. Instead, let Jesus help you. It will not only be more effective, but it will make Him happy. He wants to help you so why not let Him?

While it’s probably true that you’re sometimes afraid because you don’t trust God, it’s more important to look at how you respond to that feeling. If your fear leads you to the Lord then look at it as a blessing. Who knows where you would be without it? Jesus loves you and wants to draw you close to Him. For many of us, He does it through our anxiety. Ultimately, the end result is the same. The closer you get to Jesus, the more peace you will feel. Being with Him and experiencing His peace is what counts. How you get there doesn’t really matter.

“We must not fear fear.” —St. Francis de Sales

This post originally appeared in National Catholic Register and is reprinted with permission.

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Book Review: “The Rosary: Your Weapon for Spiritual Warfare” by Johnnette Benkovic and Thomas Sullivan

The month of May is traditionally dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary within the Catholic Church. As a lay Dominican, I always look forward to the opportunity to promote the Rosary, a prayer that Saint Dominic received based on the inspiration of Christ’s Mother. New from Franciscan Media / Servant Books is Johnnette Benkovic and Thomas Sullivan’s The Rosary: Your Weapon for Spiritual Warfare.

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Calling Men to “Step into the Breach”

Men of Grace: Warriors for the Kingdom​, you MUST all watch this and then read “Into the Breach: An Apostolic Exhortation to Catholic Men, my Spiritual Sons in the Diocese of Phoenix” by Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix.  It’s excellent!

After you watch this, download this document and read it….

http://www.intothebreach.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/INTO-THE-BREACH-ROMAN-CATHOLIC-DIOCESE-OF-PHOENIX.pdf

Baptism and Confirmation: The Sacraments of Enlistment and Combat

For many years now I have been speaking about the Kingdom of God on earth and how it is that the Church embodies all the elements of this Kingdom (King-Jesus, Queen Mother-Mary, Prime-Minister-The Pope, Cabinet Members-The Bishops, Commissioned Officers-The Priests, and Knights-Those Baptized and Confirmed.

The Church teaches us that the Christian life on earth is a warfare. And I thought I would share just a small quote from the Catechism of the Council of Trent on Baptism as Enlistment and Confirmation as Strengthening for battle.

“In Baptism man is enlisted into the service, in Confirmation he is equipped for battle; at the baptismal font the Holy Ghost imparts fullness to accomplish innocence, but in Confirmation he ministers perfection to grace; in Baptism we are regenerated unto life, after Baptism we are fortified for the combat; in Baptism we are cleansed, after Baptism we are strengthened; regeneration of itself saves those who receive Baptism in time of peace, Confirmation arms and makes ready for conflicts.

These are truths not only already recorded by other Councils, but specially defined by the holy Council of Trent; so that we are therefore no longer at liberty not only to think otherwise, but even to entertain the least doubt concerning them.”

So fellow Warriors for the Kingdom, lets start examining what it is we are part of so we can put into practice the rules of engagement that came with our enlistment into the Kingdom of God. For we are all “Called to Knighthood“.

Called to Knighthood on EWTN Bookmark

Host Doug Keck welcomes Tom Sullivan to discuss his book “Called to Knighthood: The Sacrament of Confirmation in the Kingdom Family of God” and what it means to be a Knight of Christ through the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Sun. 03/31/2013, 9:30 AM; Sun. 03/31/2013, 11:30 PM; Mon. 04/01/2013, 5 AM; Mon. 04/01/2013, 5:30 PM

http://www.ewtn.com/bookmark/index.asp

Indulgences: A Lost Treasure and Forgotten Gift of Christ

I wanted to follow up on my last post about the “Apostolic Pardon” and go into a bit more depth on just exactly what an indulgence is. We use it in everyday life in our own society and nobody seems to have a problem with it. As a matter of fact, many people who find themselves in prison, appeal for mercy and an indulgence (pardon) of some sort. Read the rest…

The “Apostolic Pardon”, a Lost Treasure for Most Catholics

Months before my father died last year, I explained to him this amazing gift of the “Apostolic Pardon” and told him to desire it when death approaches even if a priest did not arrive in time. During his final days on earth, I stood at the end of his hospital bed and reminded him of our conversation. I am so glad I did.

Now I wish to share it with you… Read the rest…