Fr. Britto's Blog

Worry & Trust

My father was a very prayerful man. In my opinion no one prayed more than my dad. I saw him praying for a long time both in the morning and at night, both in church and at home. He made sure we all knelt down for the family prayer every evening. He hardly ever missed a daily Mass. Even though he was very prayerful, he was a worrier. Especially as he was approaching his retirement from teaching, he worried about the future of the family. With his three oldest children in the seminary and in the convent, and with the other four still in school, he had reasons to worry.

 

One day I said to my dad half-jokingly, “Dad, you pray so much and yet you worry so much. Don’t you think God will take care of us?” I can’t believe I said that to my father. It was my youthful foolishness that prompted that remark. Even though today I regret making that observation, I believe there is an element of truth in it. Our faith should help us to trust God more and yet, we all spend our time worrying.

Why do we worry? We think that by worrying we exercise some sort of control over a difficult situation. Yet we never come out of our worrying feeling better. We keep going in circles. Someone has said, “Worrying is like sitting on a rocking chair. You keep moving but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” Worry increases stress and even our health can be affected.

The antidote to worry is trust. Great saints teach us significant lessons in trusting God. On October 15th we celebrate the feast of a great saint, St Theresa of Avila. She had quite a challenging life and yet she left her destiny firmly in the hands of the Lord. She became a Carmelite nun at the age of 20 against her rich father’s wishes. When she became deathly ill a year later, her father took her home to nurture her back to health. When she finally returned to her convent, she was a mediocre nun just like the others in the community. When she was thirty-nine, she experienced a profound spiritual conversion.

Looking at the crucifix she realized the depth of Jesus’ love for her, and right at that moment she resolved to become fervent in her commitment. With the help of thirteen others, she founded a new convent that followed a more rigorous religious life. They lived their lives in poverty, and spent their time in prayer and work. The community did not live off of endowments but relied on alms and the providence of God. In trying to be more faithful in the practice of Carmelite spirituality, she met much resistance both from her fellow sisters and from Church officials. She even came under the scrutiny of the Spanish Inquisition. She survived all those onslaughts thanks to her unshakeable trust in the Lord. She used to say, “Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and that there is only one glory, which is eternal. If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing.”

Learning to let go off control and put everything in God’s hands is the ultimate goal of spiritual life. The biggest obstacle to holiness is our ego. Jesus drove home this necessity of trusting in God in his Sermon on the Mount:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you--you of little faith?

This God who takes care of the birds and the flowers will certainly take care of us. We need to trust him. With Jesus on the cross we should pray those words: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

St John XXIII was once visited by the head of a religious community. She complained to the Holy Father, “I am the Mother General of the Sisters of the Holy Spirit. I am up all night worrying about the problems of my congregation.” The pope replied, “Dear Mother, I am a simple servant of the Holy Spirit. The problems of the Church are numerous, but I sleep like a baby.” If we can put our problems in God’s hands, we can all sleep like babies.

In conclusion let me leave you with the words of the great Theresa of Avila, the first woman doctor of the Church: “Let nothing disturb you, nothing dismay you. All things are passing, God never changes. Patient endurance attains all things… God alone suffices.”

God bless!

Who is Fr. Britto?

Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.

After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...

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