Feeling anxious this Christmas? It’s time to say ‘Jesus, I trust in You’
December 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Many of us — Americans especially — have been hanging on the edge of our seat the past several weeks, anxiously hoping and fervently praying that Trump’s re-election will ultimately be recognized amid the sea of election fraud, so that we can hang on to some shreds of freedom.
In a worldly sense, hope for a kind of safe harbor of freedom, in whatever way is still possible during this “scandemic,” may indeed hinge upon the final outcome of the American Presidential election. Never has the world been thus poised for a global tyranny with an airtight iron grip, made possible by unprecedented surveillance and control technology.
Even more disturbing, the majority of our Church’ shepherds seem to have forgotten the Church’s Divine mission, and have already shown themselves ready to suspend our spiritual lifeblood, the Mass and the Sacraments, at the “threat” of mild virus.
And this is just one of the latest and most egregious symptoms of what Bishop Athanasius Schneider describes as the Church’s state of “spiritual collapse,” which was set in motion with the tampering of Her liturgy, and the watering down and twisting of Her doctrine.
We can recognize the movements of evil beneath it all. We know that what Satan really wants is not so much our physical oppression or death as the death of our souls. Every movement of government oppression, of new-church “COVID-19 measures,” of Church closures, of the retreat of our clergy, aims to drag down our souls – and could potentially drag them into hell.
We must remain wide awake to this fact, because it will help us to discern what we must do, and where we must focus our energy at this time. It will help us discern the effort we need to take to attend Mass and confession, whenever it is available; how we should talk to our priests; what we should pray for; what we should work for.
The greatest battle we now face is the battle of keeping the flame of our devotion to God alight, and our hope alive. That is, the virtue of hope for salvation, while the devil does everything he can to tempt us to distraction, anxiety, sloth, and despair.
What if the attack on the Church — and on our souls — continues to intensify? What do we do if the anti-church completes a total eclipse of the true Church? What do we do to continue to receive the Sacraments, to hear the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? What if there isn’t a priest available? What if our fervor is already growing cold?
The answer, in a way, is remarkably simple. As our spiritual battle intensifies, we must keep our eyes fixed on the Christ Child, from whose loving countenance we will draw confidence, and the courage to keep hope even in our sinfulness, while the hour is late and usual supports are stripped away.
During this time, the greatest battle we may face is the interior one in which we are tempted, because of our sin, to keep distance from our Lord, not to run back to Him with a contrite heart as soon as we recognize our sin.
There may be times when we need to keep before our eyes the image of the gentle and merciful Christ Child to melt our hearts, especially when our sin weighs heavy on us.
As Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD, notes, “...devotion to the Christ Child deepens our trust in God, because we know we have nothing to fear from a God who would stoop so low as to become a little child for us. What repentant sinner can possibly cringe in fear before the Almighty, All-seeing, Thrice Holy God, if He gives Himself to us in weakness and helplessness, with the smiles and tears of an infant? He disarms our fear of His justice with His littleness.”
St. Thérèse of Lisieux wrote that God’s love is a “merciful love that delights in stooping down to our miseries in order to deliver us from them...Once we realize that God is merciful Love, we go to Him with confidence. In its turn, ‘confidence leads to love.’” (Jamart, O.C.D., Complete Spiritual Doctrine of St. Therese of Lisieux, 1961, p.73)
We must deepen our trust in God and His mercy not only by fixing our gaze on the Christ Child, but by becoming like Him.
“St. Bonaventure reminds us that “a child finds its delight with other children, with flowers, and to be in the arms [of his parents].”
According to the website Catholic Tradition, “The Saint's meaning is, that if we would please this Divine Infant, we too must become children, simple and humble; we must carry to Him flowers of virtue, meekness, of mortification, of charity; we must clasp Him in the arms of our love.”
This is what St. Thérèse of Lisieux so beautifully articulates as the way of spiritual childhood, which, I dare say, is one of our great weapons during this time. Learning from the Christ Child total filial dependency, confidence, and poverty in particular, is needed now more than ever - both in matters of the body and of the soul.
Even as we act to prepare for the coming times and provide for our families, we must become totally dependent upon God our Father, asking Him and confidently expecting from Him all that we need.
Christ wants to swiftly put an end to your anxiety, and replace it with trust in Him, and the peaceful assurance that no matter what happens, He will give you what you need. It may be material provisions, but it also may simply mean supernatural strength to endure whatever must be endured.
Here too, we must keep our eyes fixed on Christ and not on the storm around us, as Christ Himself taught us:
“And Peter going down out of the boat, walked upon the water to come to Jesus. But seeing the wind strong, he was afraid: and when he began to sink, he cried out, saying: Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretching forth his hand took hold of him, and said to him: O thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt?” [Matt 14: 29-31]
It can be really helpful also to look back upon our life and think of the many times God came through for us and helped us weather the storms of our lives, whether the trials were physical, emotional, or spiritual.
When anyone in my family used to worry out loud about something around my grandfather, he would masterfully shut us down right away. He would tell us simply, “Don’t worry about it,” or “The Blessed Mother will handle it.” His tone would mix the gentle assurance that God has our back no matter what. And he got the message across instantly and clearly: God doesn’t want us to entertain anxiety for even a second.
When he told us not to worry, his words drew power from the life he lived with total trust in God’s Providence, and with his heart in Heaven. My grandfather lived his life with true filial trust in God his Father, who he prayed to as “Abba, Daddy,” even until the end of his life.
When we feel anxiety creeping up — no matter what the reason — let us say, “Jesus, I trust in You!” And beg God for the gift of trust in Him, and for true contrition and hope.
Much anxiety comes from the fear of loss, or from the loss of gifts in our lives that is already taking place. So along with our hope and trust, this is an opportunity to practice poverty of spirit – and we may then make even more room for God to fill our lives and our hearts.
The more that is stripped away — as businesses are throttled, freedoms are suppressed, and we become increasingly isolated and fragmented — the more we must cling to God.
We can take courage from the Christ Child and the Holy Family, whose hearts were totally consumed with the love of God. Could Christ have given an example any more powerful than by being born among the animals, having been rejected from every human shelter of Bethlehem?
Let us love with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind, our Lord Jesus Christ. We will be ready for anything that comes our way.