How can we tame our fears and walk with confident faith in God? If we want to move beyond servile and mercenary fears for a higher form of love, should we always forget about those lesser fears, or ignore them? There is a saying from Nelson Mandela: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Does this match up with what Saint Francis de Sales is saying? Did Jesus have fear in the Garden of Gethsemane when He prayed to the Father: “Take this cup from me”? What are some fears we might have to face as Christians in our modern society?
The following is a recent discussion of our weekly Salesian chat. Why not join our chat this Sunday? Learn more at the Visitation Sisters’ “Living Jesus Chat Room.”
Taming Our Fears
Visitation Sister: First question: How can we tame our fears and walk with confident faith in God?
Visitation Sister: Presuming of course we have fears or have had them!
Julie: Oh, fears are my greatest temptation.
Julie: I have to trust in the Lord with all my heart and without reserve.
Visitation Sister: I was raised on fear as a child, not from parents so much but from school. But time and maturity and God’s grace lessened it.
Julie: I think of the opposite.
Visitation Sister: In what way?
Julie: We have no fear when we have no knowledge, the more we know the more fearful.
Julie: Blessed are the ignorant.
Briana: Yes, fear is always sneaking in. I need to be in constant prayer and asking God, our Blessed Mother, my Guardian Angel and saints to help me and bring me peace.
Visitation Sister: Question 2: If we want to move beyond servile and mercenary fears for a higher form of love, should we always forget about those lesser fears, or ignore them?
Denise: To the first question: For me, time. Experiencing His love and protection in a situation for instance, then I can recall this the next time I feel fearful.
Julie: I think fear cannot be forgotten but might be overcome.
Denise: And surrender.
Julie: Surrender to God with faith.
Visitation Sister: Yes, experience helps very much- when we experience the action or presence of the Lord.
Denise: Yes, Julie. This is it.
Julie: I was told by an Irish Dominican priest; the opposite of faith is fear.
Visitation Sister: Hmm…interesting.
Julie: I suppose that can be counted as a type of sin; I think I need to make confession for that.
Visitation Sister: I think to move to a higher form of love than servile fear, we might need to face the fear as St Francis de Sales did as a child when he was afraid of the dark but went into it anyway.
Julie: A sin, I think it is because we fear, for we cannot put all our trust in God.
Briana: I once heard a priest say “if fear knocks on my door, I send Faith to answer & fear never sticks around”.
Julie: When we move to a higher form of love, we trust all in God, thus without fear.
Julie: Briana, that’s a good one.
Denise: Sounds important to do…. Facing our fear. Could it be a temporal fear perhaps?
Visitation Sister: Sure.
Rebecca: I think it is OK — perfectly normal and a gift God gives us to get us prepared to ACT against a threat — to fear, at least for a little while.
Denise: Good insight, Rebecca.
Visitation Sister: Move thru fear, move beyond fear into the arms of God.
Julie: If one is truly being threatened, I don’t think I can go without fear.
Rebecca: It is when fears are overblown or unrealistic and INTERFERE with functioning reasonably that they are NOT from God, but from the one who tries to get us to distrust Him.
Visitation Sister: You must have encountered that a lot in your work.
Denise: I’m thinking of martyrs, how they must move through their fear into the arms of God.
Julie: Again, that Irish priest said that, a lot of time, we are afraid based on our imagination not the fact.
Visitation Sister: Both very true!
Rebecca: Sometimes it IS fact. And I am alive because in many situations fear gave me the strength or the impulse to protect myself.
Visitation Sister: To conquer fear we must rely on grace very often.
Julie: Only one solution, to trust in the Lord. But that’s still my biggest temptation.
Rebecca: For example. When moose antlers were coming at me, when I hit a moose that trotted in front of my car, I ducked under the dashboard and the roof came down onto the dashboard — with the moose on the roof of my car!
Visitation Sister: O my goodness!!
Julie: Oh that’s terrible.
Briana: THAT is scary!
Denise: The rush of adrenaline, from the threat, does sharpen our senses and reaction. What an experience, Rebecca!
Denise: A moose…no little thing!
Julie: I only ever encountered an eagle killing itself, when I was driving on the highway, it flew directly towards my windshield.
Rebecca: When a hospital chaplain — a bit tipsy — tried to sexually assault me, I went for the phone to call for help, but he wrestled it away from me, then I escaped and locked myself into a safe but confining place.
Rebecca: AND, of course, I prayed. For myself. And for him.
Visitation Sister: You have had so many difficult challenges!
Julie: That’s scary.
Visitation Sister: But you were saved!
Rebecca: This week, I experienced what the neurology consultant that the ER PA arranged for by telemetry, a TIA. Long story. Prescribed medication meant to protect me from an allergic reaction to iodine contrast dye messed up my metabolism royally! It was the third ER visit...
Denise: You had a TIA?
Visitation Sister: Rebecca do you live near someone or are you isolated in a country environment.
Denise: So sorry, Rebecca.
Briana: So sorry to hear that, Rebecca.
Denise: For side effects from meds.
Rebecca: One comfort when others did not do what they should have done, and I knew should have been done, was to remember Christ’s words at the trial: “You would have no power over me were it not given to you by God.” I did appeal to other, lesser, “higher powers” (in the hospital) too, but even that did not work.
Denise: Have you ever thought of getting an alert alarm? A friend had one and it was helpful.
Rebecca: I paid for one of those alarms. It did not work, when just testing it, not even ten feet from my phone. So, I arranged to send it back; the company never refunded my money.
Julie: Oh, Rebecca, we must keep you in our prayers.
Visitation Sister: Definitely.
Rebecca: Please do, Julie, Sister, Denise, Briana.
Visitation Sister: We ask the angels to surround you.
Julie: Yes, I will pray for you every day in front of the tabernacle.
Rebecca: Thank you, Sister, and all you special friends.
Visitation Sister: So, I think we are expressing some fears or at least concerns for Rebecca.
The Prayer in the Garden
Visitation Sister: 4. Did Jesus have fear in the Garden of Gethsemane when He prayed to the Father: “Take this cup from me”?
Denise: I think his human nature did have fear.
Julie: I would say, yes, since Jesus is fully human.
Visitation Sister: He was like us in all things but sin.
Julie: And as fully God, he knows what’s going to happen to him.
Julie: That’s very difficult.
Denise: From Scriptures, he felt this anticipating it. But once he was arrested ….
The Fears We Face
Visitation Sister: What are some other fears we might have to face as Christians in our modern society?
Julie: Persecution in any form does occur because of religion.
Denise: Separation persecution from family friends or even jobs.
Briana: I’ve been thinking about that all week, even before the email was sent out. I’ve realized for me that it’s rejection, losing friends.
Visitation Sister: Not doing what God wants us to do is a fear.
Briana: Yes, I agree.
Julie: In Ireland, priests that follow tradition can get outcast.
Denise: When persecuted, whomever the source, it came to me perhaps this is the person who truly needs our prayers. Like we are being allowed to see.
Denise: And then to do as God commands.
Rebecca: Let’s offer special prayers for families getting together this Thanksgiving Day — safe travels AND growing peaceful relations.
Julie: Just imagine, this can happen in a Catholic country.
Denise: Yes, Sister! It can seem frightening to do something he asks of us.
Visitation Sister: Yes, fears that we will not be accepted if we follow our traditional beliefs and practices.
Julie: A lot of priests dare not genuflect when celebrating Mass.
Visitation Sister: In Ireland?
Julie: Yes, in Ireland.
Julie: We have to pray for our priests.
Denise: A little boy asked the teacher…can we pray? She replied in a very secular way. So, I am beginning to see more of this where I am. I spoke with him later and told him I will pray with you.
Rebecca: Beautiful, Denise!
Rebecca: I love you, Jesus, my love. Grant that I may love you always, then do with me what you will. That’s been a heartfelt prayer for decades. It drives away all fear.
Denise: In Jesus name, Amen.
Briana: Thank you for that prayer, Rebecca.
Rebecca: Remembering God’s promises helps, too. E.g., Jeremiah 29:11.
Denise: Sister, last night I watched again your EWTN interview with Fr. Mitch. I heard more it seems, this time, than a few years ago. It would be good for them to air it again, now in our time.
Denise: A good message. Growing in holiness where we are.
Briana: I saw it on YouTube. How long ago was that, Sister?
Denise: This is St Francis’ message and teachings.
Visitation Sister: It was in 2012.
Rebecca: Sr. Charlotte (Mercy Sister) used to say, “Grow where you are planted.”
Visitation Sister: As we grow in the Salesian spirit, we can understand more. It was a very anointed TV show. I felt the grace.
Visitation Sister: If you have any questions from it, we can discuss sometime.
Denise: In a chat group session?
Briana: Yes, please.
Visitation Sister: Yes!
Visitation Sister: We can pick a week, watch it and then discuss at chat.
Julie: Yes, that’s good. I have watched that interview many times.
Rebecca: I like the idea, too. Chat about the interview.
Denise: Great idea.
Visitation Sister: And this is a jubilee year so also anything on St Margaret Mary that you may question would also be good to discuss.
Visitation Sister: OK!
Rebecca: Weeds like me tend to grow almost anywhere. No one PLANTS weeds. But they, too, CAN be beautiful. I call ’em wildflowers — as opposed to hothouse flowers.
Visitation Sister: So, Thanksgiving is this week. Let us give thanks to Our Lord for all He gives us, and for each other here.
Julie: Have a blessed week and good night.
Visitation Sister: Blessings to all!
Denise: Thank you all! A blessed Thanksgiving, grateful for the gift of your friendship. Good night.
Briana: Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and God bless??.
Rebecca: Blessings to each of you and to your families and friends, too.
Denise: God bless you, Rebecca.
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