I think most will agree that 2020 gets the award for worst year in the 21st Century. One reason would be the worldwide spread of the COVID-19 virus closely following the most contentious Presidential election in memory. The virus and its aftermath of masks, social distancing, isolation, national shutdowns, deaths of close friends and relatives, mental health issues, hospital crowding, etc., compounded by the extreme vitriol, hatred, and divisiveness of the election has driven most sane Christians into a mental cage of sorts closely resembling solitary confinement in San Quentin Prison. We are emotionally sitting on the floor, probably in a fetal position, wringing our hands and enveloped in palpable fear.
Do Not Be Afraid
But wait! Why are we afraid? Why are we anxious? We’re people of faith, and fear is the antithesis of faith, right? And Our Lord told us to expect what we are now seeing, right? So why am I afraid and anxious?
Even people of great faith are not immune to the fear brought on by the upheaval and changes we are seeing. But fear is a hungry monster. It is fed by media hyperbole, the unknown, herd mentality, insecurities, and the list goes on. If fear was visible, it would be a morbidly obese monster. There’s so much food we can give it.
What do we do? Well, first of all, we need to understand that the only way to acquire the peace that only Jesus can give us (John 14:27), we need to get closer to Jesus and try to listen harder than we have been. The closer we get to Jesus, the more Heavenly peace we acquire. Jesus tells us:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Here is a suggestion on how to get on how to put the fear monster on a diet:
- Consider disconnecting your cable. The provider will fight this and try and keep you. Fight the temptation: lose the cable. Get a digital antenna if you really need to have access to the news and weather when those storm warnings come around. Other than the cost of installation, there are no monthly charges once you install. When you’ve cut the cable, STOP.WATCHING.THE.NEWS! News producers pick the blood and gore and put the icing of hyperbole on the stories that will most alarm, frighten and appeal to our baser senses. A priest once gave me some great advice:
“Don’t watch the news. It will disturb the very peace Our Lord is trying so hard to give us, and will drown out His voice.”
Our Lord never told us that if we believed that we would never suffer. Quite the contrary: He told us to take up our crosses and follow Him every day (ref. Matt. 16:24). That includes the hefty crosses we make for ourselves. If you really think about it, newspapers and cable subscriptions are really crosses meant to create those very monsters we’re afraid of, and make them materialize in our lives, adding to our fears and anxieties.
Let’s not add to our crosses. Every day comes with its own set of crosses, and they’re plenty to deal with, without adding to them.
Find Strength and Peace in Jesus
Pray to the Holy Spirit, then pick up your Bible. It’s like a big telegram from Heaven. Our Lord is trying to talk to us. Read it in a quiet place. Maybe take it to your parish’s Adoration Chapel and read it before Our Eucharistic Jesus for 15 minutes, and then gradually increase the time. Before you know it, you won’t want to leave the refuge of the Sacred Heart, and you will thank yourself for getting rid of the noise and distractions that come with the media you got rid of.
Pray the Rosary. The gift of peace that Our Lady has given us in the Rosary is a treasure waiting to be opened by you. “The Rosary is the best therapy for these distraught, unhappy, fearful, and frustrated souls, precisely because it involves the simultaneous use of three powers: the physical, the vocal, and the spiritual.” – Archbishop Fulton Sheen
But the bad things haven’t gone away. I know. Let us remember, Jesus’ peace is not the same kind of peace the world gives: it is more durable and is rooted in your very soul. No matter what comes your way, no matter how bad it may be, Jesus’ peace will stay with you and help you cope with whatever comes.
And once you remove the callous of noise and distraction that encases you, Our Lord can come closer than ever before, and allow you to realize that He is walking right alongside you, whispering “Don’t be afraid. Be at peace. All is well. I am with you.” You are feeding your faith, instead of your fear, and the gift of faith is freedom from fear. Pope Francis says it well:
“Christian hope is rooted not in the attraction of the future but in the certainty of what God has promised and realized in Jesus Christ. If he has guaranteed never to abandon us; if the beginning of every vocation is a ‘Follow Me,’ with which he promised to always go ahead of us, why should we be afraid?”
Victor Negrón is a husband, father, grandfather, practicing lawyer, former judge, past-President of the San Antonio Catholic Lawyers Guild, lay evangelist, Board Member of Pilgrim Center of Hope and A Woman’s Haven. Judge Negrón became Board Certified in Family Law in 1987. As a lay evangelist, Victor has served as a leader for Eucharistic Adoration of San Antonio, Inc., and has been involved with Pilgrim Center of Hope’s evangelizing activities since its early years – formerly as emcee for the Catholic Men’s Conference, and currently as a member of the PCH Board of Directors.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.
This blog appears slightly edited from its original publication.