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Patrick O’Shea: Constancy amid the chaos

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Faith can overcome worry: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear,” Jesus told his disciples.
Faith can overcome worry: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear,” Jesus told his disciples.

By Patrick O’Shea

Worries can burden us and wear us down. The answer is to look at our lives with eyes of faith

Most people could recount the last couple of years by singing along to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and asking those around them to listen to a story of how their life was turned upside down.

Since March 2020, no one can say for certain what next week or even tomorrow will look like. Between the pandemic, the housing crisis, and the escalating situation with China, there is a lot to worry about and I would not blame you for losing sleep over any of them.

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It would all seem as though everything is hitting the fan simultaneously and perhaps humanity is juggling one too many balls. I have even heard some people cry that we are repeating the early 20th Century with disease and escalating international conflict.

Amongst all the chaos, there is one question that every Catholic must ask themselves: does God want me to be anxious?

Ultimately, the answer to this question boils down to knowing what God will hold us accountable for when we die. While I cannot make any sweeping judgements for you (so that I will not be held accountable for it!), I can offer some personal experience regarding potential anxiety.

When I meet people, I often forget how confronting it can be for them to realise that I am epileptic and have no control over my seizures, nor any idea what causes them. People often worry that I will fall down and have an episode right there in front of them.

Thanks be to God, my episodes are quite irregular and this has yet to happen. What continues to baffle those I meet, however, is not just my condition but also my carefree attitude towards it.

In having a condition like mine, there are certain caveats that come with it: I cannot swim, cannot risk looking at flashing lights, and cannot drive.

“There is so much that seems unpredictable and chaotic in today’s world; however, through the eyes of faith, we can see these as opportunities to place our hope in the Lord …”

I don’t have the freedom to fully enjoy the beach, must be wary when watching Anakin and Obi-Wan’s duel in Revenge of the Sith, and don’t have the freedom to take myself across town at my own leisure. Yet, despite these apparently crippling restrictions, I still don’t take my condition too seriously and, more importantly, don’t worry about it too much. Why?

In the Gospel of the Mass of St Mary of the Cross, Our Lord exhorts us to not worry, saying, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear” (Matt 6:25 NIV).

While dressing well is an act of charity to those around us and we should eat properly, Our Lord asks us to remain at ease. For myself, this passage can just as easily be translated as “So do not worry, saying, ‘What causes my seizures?’ or ‘When will I have a seizure?’ or ‘Where will I have a seizure?’ For the pagans worry after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you have uncontrolled seizures”.

The bottom line I take regarding my condition is that I have no control over it and whatever is not in my control is part of the Lord’s active or permissive Will. So why worry?

Similarly, in the chaos of today, the housing crisis, union strikes, and the escalating culture wars that will affect our children, there are many signs that we should worry. Yet, do we trust that God knows about our concerns and already has a plan in place? After all, He brings the best out of evil; as St Paul tells us, we foolishly place our hope in the Cross of Christ (1 Cor 1:18).

One of my favourite Psalms is Psalm 34 (33 in older translations, such as the Douay Rheims): it speaks of the sufferings that the faithful will have to endure but remains a Psalm of joy and trust in the Lord. My favourite verse is “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him” (Ps 34:9 NIV).

There is so much that seems unpredictable and chaotic in today’s world; however, through the eyes of faith, we can see these as opportunities to place our hope in the Lord and remain constant in His love.

Indeed, there is so much that we cannot control and so much we have every right to worry about; believe me, I know! Yet we are called by God to not worry about today nor tomorrow’s troubles; we are called to hope and to take refuge in Him.

Patrick O’Shea is a young pro-life activist and a staff member of the Archdiocese of Sydney

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