by Father Mark Goldasich
If you’re pressed for time this week, here’s the main point of my column: “Be strong, fear not. Here is your God.” Remember these eight words, believe these eight words, live these eight words.
Naturally, if I stopped writing right now, that would leave a lot of empty space here and would be an embarrassment to both my staff and me. So, I’ll press on . . . but honestly, those eight words above are all you need to know. By the way, they should sound familiar. They come from the Prophet Isaiah (35:4a) and we just heard them as part of the first reading at Mass on Labor Day weekend.
Recently, I came across an interesting tidbit: According to the National Bureau of Standards, a dense fog covering seven city blocks to a depth of 100 feet is composed of something less than one glass of water. (Found in “Sower’s Seeds That Nurture Family Values: Sixth Planting” by Brian Cavanaugh, TOR). Who could imagine that something as insignificant as a glass of water could unleash something so pervasive?
Think about the last time you encountered a dense fog. It changes everything. It disorients you. It prompts fear. It makes everything feel threatening: Familiar shapes, like a row of hedges, may appear to be a mysterious beast ready to pounce. Fog takes away your sense of confidence and wellbeing and causes you to creep along, not knowing what to expect around the next corner. It seems impenetrable.
But then the sun comes out. Because there’s not much moisture to fog, it burns off quickly and things return to normal. We can see clearly again and move forward with confidence.
Does it seem to you that our world has been taken over by the fog of fear? Hardly a week goes by, for example, when I don’t receive at least one e-mail that warns me of something dire. Thank goodness that, with a little research, light is shed on the issue and almost all of these “threats” can be dismissed as inaccurate, embellished or just plain silly. If a person can just put the fog into perspective, it doesn’t seem nearly as intimidating.
And maybe that is one of the ways that we Christians are called to influence our world today. We can’t be fear-mongers. We must instead be a people who remind the world of those powerful words of Isaiah: Be strong, fear not. Here is your God.
But some may ask: Where is God? Ss Catholics, we not only point people to the scriptures, but also to the Eucharist. Our God is so close to us that we receive him into our own bodies in holy Communion. Honestly, if our God is right there with us, how can we not be strong? With God literally living inside us, what could we possibly fear?
God is depending on us to bring this comforting and reassuring message to others, to shine his light on the fog that seems to have enveloped so many. Some practical ways to make this happen are:
• Be active in your faith. If you’re not at Mass to spend time with God’s word and receive the Eucharist, your spirit runs the risk of becoming weak and fearful.
• Say the Prayer of St. Francis each day. These words show how to live
out Isaiah’s advice by being a hope-, peace-, joy- or encouragement-monger at home, school, work or play.
• Invite someone to attend church with you, especially those who are struggling in life.
• Pray for the needs of others, especially those who are worriers. Then, let them know in person, by e-mail, phone or in writing that you’ve got them in prayer. Walking through a fog with another person cuts the fear in half.
Finally, you might want to keep a glass handy. When feeling overwhelmed by the fog of fear, discouragement or weariness, fill that glass with water — then dump it out.
So many fogs are of our own making that the simple act of tossing it all can make room for Christ’s light to shine on your whole life.