This seems like a good week to moderate my social media intake if ever there was one. From vicious politics, to scandals in the clergy, to confusion about Church teaching, my feed is full of worrying.
It’s important to understand the situation of the world clearly, but I think Christ was speaking from his intimate knowledge of human nature when he directed us to “let not our hearts be troubled.” (John 14:1) Our brains and our hearts absorb the heaviness of this online inundation of anxiety and become troubled even against our will.
The enemy of our souls wants to immobilize us with worry, in our prayer lives and in our baptismal mission to spread the Gospel. He wants to stop us in our tracks and encourage us to spiral inwards, mesmerized by what causes us anxiety, instead of living our life of prayer, faith, and action with a firm foundation of trust in Our Lord. God tells us,
“In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”
“I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
When something is eating at us, we often try to seek more (and more) information and analysis to try to make sense of the confusion around us. At best, we try to understand the full truth of a situation. At worst, we try to keep making our own point loudly, and drown out conflicting views. Both can devolve into worrying and endlessly conversing about things that are out of our control, without our consciously realizing it.
This week is a good time to discern how the anxiety around us is affecting us, if it has infected us, and how to take control of its effect on our lives, minds, and souls.
Making my own self-examination I realized that I can fret, or I can act. Whether it concerns my spiritual life, my family life, my work, the church, or current events, I always have a choice. I can be a worrier, or I can be a warrior.
Worriers grimace internally at each piece of bad news or unexpected event. Warriors bounce back, accept difficult truths and seek God’s plan in them with brave and intentional love.
Worriers fall into despair over the disappointments of those whose virtue should lead us. Warriors hold them, and themselves, accountable for creating a culture of truth, virtue, and mercy, and make a plan to concretely live this.
Worriers fear what could happen in the Church. Warriors fight that fear in themselves and trust Christ’s promise that the gates of hell will never prevail, in spite of confusion, human weakness or sin.
Worriers point fingers at people who they believe have failed them. Warriors see people’s human failures, forgive them and work with them and others to build a culture of justice and love.
Worriers ruminate on concerns. Warriors pray.
Worriers let problems drown their optimism. Warriors fight to keep their eyes focused on what is good, true and beautiful (Phil 4:8), and come up with solutions to problems.
Worriers look at the corruption of people. Warriors look at the inspiration of the saints.
Worriers give up and insulate themselves. Warriors don’t quit working and reaching for the ideals that Christ and the Church inspire us to serve, to make Christ’s Kingdom come.
Worriers let what is good and beautiful in life slip out of their sight as if their concerns override any frivolous indulgence in joy. Warriors hold firm to joy, in spite of concerns, and ensure that they are fighting FOR a good that is worth giving their life to, not just AGAINST an evil or an injustice.
Did I mention that worriers ruminate and warriors pray? Worriers also ruminate together, online or in person. Warriors also pray together, online and in person, creating communion and communities.
The call of the laity in the Catholic church is to transform the secular world with the light of the Gospel. That’s warrior mode. We were made for this. It’s one of the gifts God gives the world through our lay vocation. It’s time for us to step up, with confidence, with serene joy, with an active dedication, and leave our troubled hearts behind. Call out evil, but don’t serve it by dedicating your time to absorbing it on social media or letting it immobilize you.
Follow the example of the saints, warriors who have gone before us, through more difficult times than ours. Keep your vision and your focus on Christ’s Kingdom. He’s got this. He promised.