This summer, my daughter discovered The Andy Griffith Show on Netflix. As I watched a few of the black and white episodes with her, it made me nostalgic for a more simple and peaceful time. As the show progressed into color I noticed the story lines began to reveal the reality of life. There has always been and this side of heaven, there will always be, something to threaten the peace Jesus came to leave us, even in the most idyllic settings.
That does not mean we should wave our anxiety flags in defeat. A faith in Christ comes with hope, as St. Peter declared, “a living hope.” When troublesome times arise, it is easy to become frightened and worried. Jesus counsels us as to the worthlessness of worry when he says, “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?”
Worry changes nothing, including the inevitable of a fixed life expectancy. Trust me on this one: I’ve tested it out one too many times! As if Jesus’ words were not clear enough for us to see the frivolousness of a life of fretting, Padre Pio advised, “Pray, hope, do not worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”
As someone who struggles daily with anxiety, I find comfort and strength in the many beautiful traditions and devotions of the Catholic faith. When I worry, I tend to be paralyzed by my thoughts. My worries, fears, and concerns can spin round and round on the hamster wheel of my thoughts for hours and days! These are just 5 of the many devotions I have found to break anxiety’s spell on me. Not only do some of these devotions give me healthy and helpful actions, but they also renew my thoughts so I can once again focus on Christ and live in hope.
Once considered the prayer of grandmothers, old-fashioned and even a chore to pray, the Rosary is finally getting the respect it deserves. For a worrier, the familiar prayers offer encouragement and the feel of the beads through my fingers brings comfort. Often, I use my Rosary as a “Spiritual Abacus,” praying each bead for a special intention such as a sick friend, a hope for my child, or in thanksgiving for a blessing! As my wise friend Michael once told me, “Prayer isn’t the least you can do; it is the most you can do.”
Seven years ago, our family was blessed to welcome a little girl via adoption. We were so thrilled when we received her photograph in April and were informed we’d be able to travel and bring her home in 6 to 8 weeks. That quickly expanded to 6 months! The wait was agonizing, often triggering my negative-Nelly thoughts until I would be convinced something would prevent us from becoming her forever family. This is when I discovered the calming effects of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. The boys and I made it a habit to pray the Chaplet every day at 3 o’clock during our long wait and received many incredible insights and blessings. By the end of 2009, Faith become a permanent part of our family, as did this special trust-producing prayer.
Divine Mercy for Moms, a Catholicmom.com Book on Divine Mercy by Michele Faehnle and Emily Jaminet (Ave Maria Press)
Sacred Heart of Jesus
This devotion won my heart with its 12 Promises. Nothing soothes a worrier’s heart like healing, protective, security-offering promises from God. Those Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus given to us through St. Margaret Mary Alacoque are:
(1) “I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
(2) I will establish peace in their homes.
(3) I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
(4) I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.
(5) I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
(6) Sinners will find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
(7) Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
(8) Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
(9) I will bless every place in which an image of my Heart is exposed and honored.
10) I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
(11) Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart.
(12) I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.” Copyright (c) 1996 EWTN
The Miraculous Medal is what is known as a Sacramental.
“Holy Mother Church has, moreover, instituted sacramentals. These are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy.” ~ Catechism Catholic Church 1667
A Miraculous Medal has been around my neck since 2007 and has been touched upon the relic of many a Saint. My anxiety always subsides when I reach up and feel the raised imprint of Our Blessed Mother, the Queen of Saints, and remember she along with many other friends in heaven (my Saint Posse) are bringing my prayer intentions to Jesus.
Fellow CatholicMom.com contributor Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle included in her book a story of my own miraculous moment with my medal during our trip to China to bring our daughter, Faith, home.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
Time in our quiet chapel with Jesus has done more for overcoming my anxiety than any other remedy I have attempted. No matter how wound up I arrive, Jesus always has a way of straightening me out. Whether I spend my time in quiet contemplative prayer, engaged in spiritual reading, or engrossed in Scripture; this time apart from the busy world always brings me peace. Some of my Adoration visits have been wrought with tears, pleas, groans, and sighs; yet Jesus never leaves me in that knotted state. This ‘foretaste of Heaven’ as St. Teresa of Avila referred to Adoration as always gives me the hope I seek in the most troubling and unsettling of circumstances.