Foolish Fears

During the summer months, we Benedictines here at Sant’Anselmo in Rome sometimes change the language of our prayers. We pray in English instead of Latin or Italian as we usually do because we have many international guests. The change of language always brings new discoveries and findings as I pray. Recently at our morning office when we chanted the hymn “As daylight fills the morning sky”, one sentence struck me. It goes:

May angry words and foolish fears
Be exorcised by heartfelt tears.

My attention was raised by the “foolish fears”. I was thinking: Yes, fears, for a Christian, are always foolish. Why should we be afraid? Of whom should we be afraid? “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?” says St. Paul (Rom 8:35). And he continues: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:38-39).

If we look at Christ soberly, calmly, trustingly, there is no reason for us to be afraid. God is with us, he is in us; he has died for us and freed us from the slavery of sin and death. How could he give us more? How could he have proven more that he loves us? So, I tell my fears: “Yes, you fears that creep up once in a while upon me: Know that you are foolish. I don’t need you.” Of course, when we look with concerns on what is going on in the world: we might have some fears. I am not saying that there are no justified fears. Sometimes they function to warn us or to bring us the right energy level, for example, stage fright. Still, in the end, fears are foolish if we deeply trust in God. In his presence, our fears vanish. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31)

Lord, I place myself right in the middle of your presence. Let me be bold in trusting you. Fear is not a Christian’s business. Instead courage, freedom in word and deed, and trust are fruits of your spirit. Any other spirits are foolish. Let me always live in this spirit. Let me set my foot on the water, as you have called me to do.

Don't be afraid

The Apple Of Your Eye

Washington DC 286 - Copy

Unexpectedly, my eye was caught by this verse at Midday prayer: “Keep me as the apple of your eye”. (Psalm 17:8) At this moment I deeply realized what I had experienced often before: how much God protects and keeps me, like the apple of his eye. How do we protect our eyes? Nature has provided for it: There is the eyelid, very close to our eyes that allows us to close our eyes and even provide for moisture. But, also, if somebody would attack my face or my eyes, my reflexes would work right away, and with arms and hands I would protect myself.

The eye is one of the most vulnerable parts of our body. If we appeal to God to protect us, we point to our most vulnerable part, saying: Please, protect me where I am most vulnerable, because without you, I am not protected enough. At the same time, we call upon God that he might protect us like HIS eye. That is interesting. I don’t want to go into the question whether or not God has eyes he must protect, but with this prayer we ask him to treat us and take care of us as if we would be the most precious part of himself.

We truly are most precious to God. And this is why he protects us. I had many, many instances in which I thought: Now he and his angels have protected me—from near accidents or from making wrong decisions. He protected me more than I could expect. At those moments I realized I am like the apple of his eye. Sometimes I ask children in a sermon: How are the angels, small or tall? The children know exactly: there are small ones and there are tall ones. Imagine your car is at risk to run off the road, a tiny angel could not stop it. Angels must be tall at times. This is how God protects us: powerfully, like our arms and hands in a reflex to protect the eyes; and also tenderly, like the eye-lid that carefully closes.

Dear Lord, let me always be open and thankful for my guardian angels. Let me never forget that you love me more than I ever could, that you look further, that you know more. You want my life, intact and full. Watch over me and keep me from everything that could harm or hurt me. Please, keep me from hurting others or myself.