Let’s face it, the world can be a dark and frightening place lately. It seems as if it is not the question of “when will the next mass shooting happen”, but more like “where will it be today?” Many of us may be paying just as much for our gas bill to commute to work as we are for groceries each week. We are having to rethink what our menu at home will be based on what is cheaper and what is available in stores. Career politicians and news talking heads love to spout out ideas as to the cause of crime, inflation, while touting their politically driven agenda-based ideas on how to stop it.
However, we as Christians are called to a different life. We are called to a life of hope. We are called to be people of the light in a dark and dreary world. It sometimes can seem difficult, almost impossible, considering the news which seems to threaten us daily. We know, on the other hand, with God all things are possible. As people of the possible, let’s look at some simple, yet practical, tips to help you overcome fear and live as a child of the light.
1.) Wake up 30 minutes earlier: It may seem like the last thing you want to do is get out of bed and face another day. The warmth and comfort of your bed seems to be the safest place to be but go ahead and set that alarm and get up earlier. Once you are up, grab your cup of morning Joe and spend the first few minutes praying with Jesus. I like to say that Jesus has coffee with me every morning. I get up, make my coffee, and go into my office where I am alone with Jesus (and my coffee). Christ is almost always the first person I talk to each morning and He’s certainly a non-negotiable for my morning routine. When we begin the day with Christ, our focus shifts from our problems or the fear surrounding us to the Lord. Our focus shifts from being afraid to rejoicing and being filled with hope in our God. After praying, spend the next 30 minutes or more reading Scripture. One great way I spend my morning is with my Bible open and following along with Fr. Mike Schmitz with the Bible in a Year podcast. It’s a great way to see the world, with all its troubles and drama, from a Biblical view. The Biblical view is not one of fear, but one of hope.
2.) Go to adoration weekly: For the life of a believer, we are sustained and strengthened by the Sacraments. We are sustained with prayer and being in the presence of the Lord. If you have the ability, spend an hour in adoration with the Lord Jesus. This time will allow you to refocus the lenses through which you see the world each week. Perhaps you want to start your week off with adoration, or maybe you want to end it in adoration. If your parish does not have an adoration chapel, find one near you. I work in a different city than my home parish. I found a parish near where I work that has an adoration chapel and that is where I spend my time before the Lord.
3.) Read the lives of the saints: I am an avid reader and I love to read great Catholic books, especially those on the lives of the saints. I have a routine where I read Scripture in the mornings with my coffee and prayer time. At night, just before retiring for bed, I pick up a book and read to unwind for the day. It is especially helpful if it is on the lives of one of the saints because we can often see the things we have faced that day reflected in the lives of the saints in one form or another. It is helpful as we sometimes get consumed with what is happening around us to be able to place that within the context of the saints and how they dealt with similar situations.
4.) Memorize Scripture: This is not something that I find a lot of Catholics feel the need to do. However, I love memorizing Scripture because when I feel anxiety or fear rising up in me throughout the day, I am not always able to pick up my Bible or rush to an adoration chapel. However, I can recite a Bible verse or two which helps to calm and refocus me. “Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) Jesus used Scripture to combat the attacks of Satan in the wilderness. We would be wise to use Scripture to combat his attacks as well since we know fear is not of God. Other useful verses I love to memorize, which you may consider, are John 14:27, 2 Timothy 1:7, Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 56:3, and Philippians 1:6.
5.) Turn off notifications and apps: Let’s face it, you likely do not get any good news notifications on your phone. The major networks are not going to be sending you a notification saying, “Thousands receive Jesus at First Communion”. Their notifications are primarily crime, hate, fear, and politics. Simply turn off your notifications for your apps (including social media). Make a point to only check the news once a day and to only check your social media once a day. If you are struggling with fear to a great extent, I suggest logging off social media for a while. Trust me, you will not miss anything, and your life will almost instantly be more hopeful and peaceful.
6.) Talk to someone: We all need a friend at times to talk to and it is no shame in telling someone you love that you are struggling. In fact, it’s a necessity and shows a great deal of trust. Even Jesus set the example that we should not walk through this world alone. He did not send the apostles out by themselves. “He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits.” (Mark 6:7) We know we are in a spiritual battle and this world is ultimately not our home. We would be wise to take lessons from Christ and the apostles and travel this spiritual battle with a friend. Do not try to handle it on your own. Pick up the phone and call someone who is strong in their faith, shares your beliefs, and who will pray for you and with you and encourage you.
We are a people of hope. We are a people of love. We are to share the light of Christ with this dark and evil filled world. Remember, the evil around you is not the end of the story. Christ still reigns and He is coming back!