It seems we all worry about something. Are you an expert?
Worry is not just a ‘downer’; it’s dangerous. Saint Francis de Sales—one of the greatest writers on the spiritual life and a Doctor of the Church—wrote, “With the single exception of sin, anxiety is the greatest evil that can happen to a soul. […] If our heart is inwardly troubled and disturbed it loses both the strength necessary to maintain the virtues it had acquired and the means to resist the temptations of the enemy.”
Besides presenting our worries to God in prayer and asking for peace (which are called prayers of petition), how else can we fight the temptation to worry?
One practical way that has helped me overcome worry is surrounding myself with ‘holy reminders’ at home and work; such as images of Christ—especially of the Sacred Heart of Jesus or the Divine Mercy image.
‘Holy reminders’ encourage me to trust God. If I am a person of faith, I must put my faith into action. If I profess belief in an All-Good, All-Powerful, and All-Loving God, I must live according to that belief and surrender my worries to him. “Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
Learn to Savor
I remember one particular week, when I repeatedly came across a Scripture verse that embodies another way to overcome worry: “Learn to savor how good the Lord is. Happy are those who take refuge in Him.” (Psalm 34:8)
I had always heard the alternate translation, “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord…” but the phrase “Learn to savor” struck me deeply.
When we taste a delicious ice cream or steak, it’s good. But when we savor it, we spend more time appreciating it. When we savor something, its goodness becomes richer and more meaningful.
Once, my spiritual director instructed me to write down things for which I was grateful. This daily practice was meant to be a prayer of thanksgiving, but it eventually became just another task. I was “tasting” those good gifts rather than savoring them.
Take time to marvel at God’s gifts in your life! This savoring is a weapon against worry, because our meditation on God’s Providence re-builds our confidence in his goodness and trustworthiness. Scripture repeatedly commands that we celebrate and remember “the good things” that God has done for us.
Praise Is Powerful
One of the most powerful ways to fight worry is praise.
Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for his own sake and gives him glory, quite beyond what he does, but simply because HE IS. […] By praise, the Spirit is joined to our spirits to bear witness that we are children of God, testifying to the only Son in whom we are adopted and by whom we glorify the Father. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2639)
The power of praising God is why the apostles, saints, and popes have instructed us to praise God unceasingly. Saint Augustine’s famous quotation is often half-quoted: “You (God) yourself encourage [humans] to delight in your praise, for you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
When we worry, we are preoccupied with many things. When we praise God, however, we focus our whole being on God’s Goodness, Truth, Beauty, Mercy, and Love. Prayers of praise fulfill our deepest identity: to be united with, and to ‘rest in’, God.
I have found that the more I genuinely praise God, the more quickly my worries vanish.
So, how does one praise God? The highest form of praise is the Holy Mass, the “sacrifice of praise”. Besides active participation in Mass, I most often praise God through hymns and spiritual songs. However, we can praise God everywhere; even when we cannot sing or speak. We simply raise our hearts and minds to God, and rejoice in who God Is.
God commands you to pray, but he forbids you to worry. – St. John Vianney
I invite all you this week to join me in conquering worry, partaking in holy reminders, savoring God’s goodness, and praising God from the heart!
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.
Angela Sealana is Media Coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, having served at the apostolate since 2010. She also serves on the PCH Speaker Team.