A Message from Father William

Brothers and sisters: Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-9). In reflecting on these words of Saint Paul in the second reading at Mass this Sunday, as he encourages the people of Philippi and us, we might ask:

Is Saint Paul serious? How can any of us live an anxiety-free life in the midst of a pandemic? Doesn’t he know how difficult life can get? Yes, he does! He even writes about his own anxieties and how his concern for various church communities weighed upon him (2 Corinthians 11:28). So why does he tell us to not be anxious? Because he knows how powerful a force worry can be, and he wants to help us handle it – advice that we can all take to heart.

Paul tells us to pray, and then he promises that “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Let us bring our needs to the Lord, placing them before Him and trusting in Him, for Jesus Christ is God, and where He is, so is the Father and the Holy Spirit. By bringing all our cares to Him, we will find a new peace that we didn’t know before, for we can be assured that God will help us. He loves us, each one of us, infinitely well. He might not solve all our problems right away, but He will give the strength and clarity we need to help us keep working through them. God will also give us grace to conquer evil with good. In giving us a free will, God wants us to always choose the good – sometimes, however, as we see in the riots across our country, some people choose evil. In the face of such evil-doing, many first responders heroically go into harm’s way to conquer evil with good – these include law enforcement, EMTs, firefighters and members of our U.S. Armed Forces. Thanks be to God for their witness as they keep the peace, serve and protect us. Let us continue to pray for an end to the riots, for the safety of all people, the restoration of all the churches, businesses and homes that have been vandalized, looted or burned to the ground, and for God’s peace and healing presence for our country.

Saint Paul encourages us to focus our minds and hearts on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and gracious (Philippians 4:8). When we do, then God and His peace will be with us (4:9). Our anxieties will gradually diminish as we gain a bigger perspective on our lives. We will see our lives in the light of the love, mercy and everlasting embrace of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – giving us greater confidence whenever we become anxious. And that will help us to bear the fruits of His Kingdom – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self control and chastity (Matthew 21:43; Galatians 5:22-23).

Whenever we begin to feel anxious, let’s remember that God is with us always (Matthew 28:20). God, the author of our life, cares for us, loves us, and calls us to follow Him. His hand is stretched out to you even now, as you read this, welcoming you and inviting you to give your cares to Him. By His grace, let us go to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in prayer, as He helps us and guards our hearts and minds today and always, leading us to eternal life in Heaven, with all of His angels and saints.

With peace and prayers in Christ,
Fr. William Vernon