Sirach, Chapter 40, Verse 2
Troubled thoughts and fear of heart are theirs and anxious foreboding until death.
Life is a journey that is full of joys and miseries. Every person, high or low, is burdened from birth to death with fears, anxieties, and troubles, by day and often by night, the time appointed for rest. For sinners, the suffering is much greater. What they gained by violence and injustice is quickly destroyed; but righteousness will prevail. In the end they will meet the mother of all the living things and return to the earth. Listen to the words of King David on his death to Solomon.
“I am going the way of all flesh. Take courage and be a man. Keep the mandate of the LORD, your God, following his ways and observing his statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees as they are written in the law of Moses, that you may succeed in whatever you do, wherever you turn, and the LORD may fulfill the promise he made on my behalf when he said, ‘If your sons so conduct themselves that they remain faithful to me with their whole heart and with their whole soul, you shall always have someone of your line on the throne of Israel.’” (1Kg. 2:2-4)
“Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
Today might be a good day to build up the flesh and make a poor man’s feast.
Poor Man’s Feast
DIRECTIONSPrepare the vegetables: Dice the onion. Peel the potatoes and dice into cubes no larger than 1/2 inch.
Heat the oil in a 12" non-stick skillet over medium heat.
Add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring once.
Add the onion and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the sliced wieners and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced small
- 5 hot dogs, sliced into rounds (about 10 oz)
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
Fortified with such a meal I can exclaim--I fear not the myriads of people arrayed against me on every side.
Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
It's said that the words "Be not afraid" appear in Scripture 366 times one for each day of the year (leap years included). Certainly we need this sort of ongoing reminder and encouragement; life can be difficult and is often filled with anxieties, great and small. Jesus told St. Martha that, unlike her sister Mary, she was "anxious and troubled about many things." Martha took this correction to heart and learned to trust in the Lord so much so that later, even as she grieved the death of her brother Lazarus, she was able to acknowledge Jesus as the Resurrection and the life. Martha's sister St. Mary Magdalene likewise acknowledged Christ's power on this occasion; she was one of the few followers of Christ who, on Good Friday, dared to proclaim her loyalty to Him publicly by standing beneath His Cross, and for her courage and devotion she was rewarded by being the first witness of the Resurrection.
There's a saying that "Courage is fear that has said its prayers." Prayer is indeed the key to overcoming or coping with anxiety, for it reassures us of God's presence and reminds us of our need to rely on His strength, not on our own. As St. John Vianney said, "God commands you to pray, but He forbids you to worry." All Christians are called to be a source of strength and courage to others. One who understood this was St. Catherine of Siena, who centuries before women were acknowledged as equal to men used her tremendous influence to guide the affairs of popes and kings. The papacy had found Rome to be hostile and unpleasant and had taken refuge in the French city of Avignon. This "temporary" arrangement dragged on and on, to the detriment of the Church. Catherine finally persuaded a timid Pope Gregory XI to leave Avignon and return to Rome.
Compared with what the martyrs suffered, the things we worry about may seem trifling, but God offers us the same gifts of courage and strength that sustained the martyrs in their trials." Prayer is indeed the key to overcoming or coping with anxiety, for it reassures us of God's presence and reminds us of our need to rely on His strength, not on our own, remember how St. Peter at a blast of wind began to sink because of his lack of faith, do as he did: call upon Christ and pray to Him for help. This attitude of confidence applies even to our encounters with evil, for St. Teresa of Avila notes that every time evil spirits fail to terrify us or dissuade us from doing good, "they lose strength, and the soul masters them more easily. If the Lord is powerful and they are His slaves, what harm can they do to those who are servants of so great a King and Lord?" Nothing can happen to us without our Father's knowledge and permission, and He is able to arrange all things for our good. We, for our part, however, must avoid useless speculation; as St. Francis de Sales tells us, "It will be quite enough to receive the evils that come upon us from time to time, without anticipating them by the imagination." According to St. Jerome, facing our fears and doing our duty in spite of them is an important way of taking up our cross; thus, we can reassure ourselves that in our efforts to be brave, we are actually serving Christ. One who understood this was St. Thomas More, who from his prison cell wrote to his daughter, "I will not mistrust Him, Meg, although I shall feel myself weakening and on the verge of being overcome with fear. As this English saint notes, we must keep our focus on Christ, not on ourselves; once we turn to Jesus in trust, we are ready to follow the advice of St. Francis de Sales: "If you earnestly desire to be delivered from some evil, or to attain to some good, above all things, calm and tranquilize your mind, and compose your judgment and will; then quietly and gently pursue your aim, adopting suitable means." Jesus offers us His peace; if we accept it and use His grace, nothing shall overcome us.
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