Thursday, February 7, 2013

Give Up Worrying For Lent!

Since A Worrier’s Guide To The Bible was released, I’ve been doing a lot of speaking about anxiety. As I visit various parishes, I encounter many people who are worried about a variety of things. And I have to admit that some of their problems are monumental. I have also met several individuals who have serious problems, but who are at peace. What gives? How can some people be peaceful even though storms are raging around them.

In his letter to the church at Corinth, St. Paul touches on the key to achieving this kind of peace. It’s something that he knew about first hand and it enabled him to remain calm and peaceful in the midst of many sufferings:
Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor 4:16-18)
Despite all the suffering that Paul endured, he understood that there was a bigger picture. Looking at that big picture, and not focusing on our problems, can allow us to feel peaceful even though the waves are crashing around us.
So we are always courageous, although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord. Therefore, we aspire to please him, whether we are at home or away. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Cor 5:6-10)
Mindful of the fact that this life is temporary, St. Paul confidently states that “we walk by faith, not by sight”. Or do we? Whenever we begin to worry about the problems in our lives and lose sight of the fact that our ultimate goal is to reach heaven, we do the opposite of what Paul recommends. So many of us are anxious and miserable precisely because we are not walking by faith. Instead, we are walking by sight. When we do that, we allow the problems we see in our lives to rob us of God’s peace.
So, what’s the answer? As I mention many times in my talks, FAITH is the answer to FEAR! If our faith is strong, our fear will fade away. A strong faith allows us to trust in God and His providence. We know that everything happens for a reason (Romans 8:28) and that everything that happens in our lives can help us to achieve our ultimate destiny – life in heaven! If you’re looking for some Biblical evidence to substantiate my claim, try this on for size:
He got into a boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. (Matthew 8:23-27)
Why were they afraid? Because they had little faith! Despite the fact that we many not want to admit it, fear and faith are at two opposite ends of the spectrum. Given that this is the Year of Faith (as declared by our Holy Father) and that we are entering into the season of Lent, wouldn’t it be great if we could use this holy season to move from FEAR to FAITH? Well, the good news is that we can and I’m going to be doing something on my daily radio show to help us achieve that goal!

Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Feb 13, I’ll be leading a Lenten Retreat which will help us journey from FEAR to FAITH. The theme will be “Purification” (don’t worry…it’s not as bad as it sounds!) and it is designed to help us take our eyes off of earthly attachments and focus on our heavenly destination. In addition to the daily Mass readings, I’ll be using the book My Daily Bread by Fr. Anthony Paone, SJ as the basis for the retreat. Originally written in 1954, this outstanding little book uses Ignatian principles to help free us from our inordinate attachment to “things”. The basic format of the retreat will be as follows:

Week 1 – Conversion (A Thoughtful Look At Human Life)
Week 2 – After Conversion (Facing The Old Routine With A New Spirit)
Week 3 – Temptations (Their Nature and How To Control Them)
Week 4 – Conquering Bad Habits
Week 5 – Self Conquest Through Mortification

As we walk through this Lenten retreat together, we’ll find ourselves concentrating more on the things of heaven and less on the things of earth. As a result, we’ll not only grow closer to the Lord, but we’ll experience a great deal of peace. If you’re interested in participating in the retreat, please
email me
and put “Lent” in the subject. [Blogger's note: If you wish to join the retreat, please click through links above to the writer's website, in order to email him.] I’ll send you further directions and let you know how you can listen to my radio show. It will cost you nothing. Why not make a pledge to make this your best Lent ever? Together we can travel the road…

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