This unresting anxiety is the greatest evil which can happen to the soul, sin only excepted. Just as internal commotions and seditions ruin a commonwealth, and make it incapable of resisting its foreign enemies, so if our heart be disturbed and anxious, it loses power to retain such graces as it has, as well as strength to resist the temptations of the Evil One, who is all the more ready to fish (according to an old proverb) in troubled waters.
Anxiety arises from an unregulated desire to be delivered from any pressing evil, or to obtain some hoped-for good. Nevertheless nothing tends so greatly to enchance the one or retard the other as over-eagerness and anxiety. - St Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church, Introduction to a Devote Life, Part IV
Light blogging this week. Well, make that no blogging until now. Why? I have to admit that my attitude this week would have been something very wrong to share. Anxiety has been hard at work on me. Work has been about as stressful as I can remember. And the news lately? I know it can get worse, but this steady drip of death news is sucking the atmosphere dry of hope.
Let’s see, where to begin? Everything Obama has been bad news. Thanks to the chance discovery of uncounted ballots in Minnesota (and those chance discoveries always seem to favor the party of death) and the betrayal of a pro-death Republican in Pennsylvania, the president now has the rest of this congress to alter the fabric of America for generations. And not just our country. He also wants to export modern American family values to countries that just aren’t aborting their kids fast enough. Kathleen Sebelius gets in without a wimper thanks to a potential swine flu epidemic. And now we have a vacancy on the Supreme Court that will be filled by someone even more radical than Obama, not that Justice Souter was any picnic (thanks a lot HW).
And what’s to turn the tide? Obama is in the oval office thanks to a growing electorate of the unmarried. In 2007, 40% of the births in the United States were illegitimate. Courts are dictating gay marriage, and no one revolts? This nation has forgotten that the primary purpose of marriage is for the procreation, support, and education of children. Now marriage is all about self. So even though the people still instinctively know something is wrong with gay marriage, they can’t argue why without sounding like a bigot. In two generations, who will be left to explain the purpose of marriage? Two generations ago, people instinctively knew abortion was wrong. Four generations ago, people instinctively knew contraception was wrong. Slowly, sometimes not so slowly, this Culture of Death is claiming our country, a nation that was once portrayed as that “shining city on the hill.”
What’s to turn the tide? The institutions that saturate our secular culture and influence minds and behaviors are all on the side of this brave, new America. Entertainment media, news media, corporations, education at all levels – how is one to avoid the groupthink that sex, materialism, and uber self-esteem is the key to happiness?
So I think you get the gist of my anxiety this week. Bleak prospects at work, bleak prospects for the future of this country (not to mention all the other countries unfortunate enough to follow our lead) and, not mentioned previously, an inordinate number of friends, family and co-workers are going through tough times with employment, sickness, and other tragic circumstances. Anxiety. That doesn’t make for an interesting blog post. Nor a beneficial one.
The Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Heart will prevail. I know that, with all my heart I know that. Christ is the victor, and I’m on His side most of the time. But it is such a challenge to see the decline of goodness in our time and have faith that God will bring about a greater good. My faith is weak, therefore, I fear.
But the Lord’s mercy is never exhausted, even for those of weak faith. Today, I have a reprieve. I failed to pray for it. In fact, my prayer life slipped mightily during the last week. Nevertheless, He’s granted a reprieve, and it came though my marriage and the fruit of that marriage. It came from a child.
I usually say a rosary or chaplet in my car or listen to talk radio on the way home. I really didn’t feel like praying today (**Alert – I am aware that this is the best time to pray. Thanks for thinking that anyway**), nor did I want to increase my anxiety by listing to other people complain about what’s going on. That might alert me to something I didn’t know, and ignorance is preferable in my situation.
I’m weak, so I turned to a source designed for people in my state. Pop music. While commuting home from work, to take my mind off the misery of this week, I turned to the music that has made a considerable contribution to the Culture of Death. To my credit, I dialed away from most of the songs that were too ME ME ME ME ME focused, but a few of them slipped through, like Jesse’s Girl, and Tonight and the Rest of MY Life (I only know the chorus to that song, and listening to the rest, I got the impression that Nina is signing about being a demon. How’s that for the soul!). I got to sing along to one of the great sap songs in history, “Honey you! Are my shining star. Don't you go away.” (Don’t worry, that song ain’t going away from any of the heads of you blessed readers. He he.) You just have to sway along with that one. And I got to chill to a Counting Crows song I’d never hear before, but yet I had, if you know what I mean.
And then I had to gasp as I’m sort of singing along to Man on the Moon (“sort of”, meaning my ears cannot discern what Michael Stipe is singing most of the time) and discovered, for the first time, that the song takes silly cheap-shots at organized religion, modeled no doubt by the Catholic Church.
Well, at least it ended on a high note. A song about anxiety came on the radio. It’s a song called Overkill, one I used to sing along to in my adolescent years. This was a version I’d never heard before. This was Collin Hay solo, just him and his guitar. Very nice, and very apropos for the mood. I sat in the driveway until it ended.
Then I entered the house singing. Don’t worry, my family is used to it. “Day after day, it reappears. Night after night, my heartbeat shows the fear. Ghosts appear and fade away.” My daughter, bless her, hugged me as I walked in, and listened to me sing as I made my way to the kitchen toward my wife.
“Daddy, what song is that you're singing?”
“It’s an old song called Overkill. It’s by a group called Men At Work.”
“Are we going to sing that at Mass?”
My wife and I just about died laughing. Anxiety gone! And it hasn’t returned. Thank you Lord! You truly stoop to conquer.
(For those of you who don’t get the irony of a five-year old asking if we will be singing a pop song called Overkill at the mass, you obviously aren’t on the All Are Welcome-Gather Us In-City of God-Canticle of the Sun-We Are Called five-week cycle. You didn’t get it, but that’s okay, because you already have so much)
In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. – Roman Missal