My dear friend, and popular Catholic talk show host and evangelist, Fr. John Riccardo, always says discouragement is the devil’s greatest tool. If he can convince us that there is little or no hope, Fr. John explains, if he can convince us that we might as well throw in the proverbial towel and spend the rest of our days merely sitting around in fear and anxiety waiting for judgment day, then he’s won.
How many of us have felt like that lately? I can’t tell you how often in recently weeks, I just wanted to grab a giant box of Cheez-Its, my all-time favorite munchie, pull up the covers, and say “ciao” to the world for a while. Oh, and by the way, this is after returning not too long ago, from a very relaxing vacation where all my husband and I had to worry about each day was where we were going to eat fresh oysters and drink margaritas.
Thank goodness, many years ago when I was slowly and stubbornly making my way back to the Catholic Church, my husband and I got into the habit of tuning out the noise in our lives for a little while and diving into Scripture. We would read the Daily Mass Readings together and discuss them before heading to work. What a difference that quiet time with Jesus and each other, even though it adds up to only about 20 minutes, would and still does make in our outlook and activities for the day.
So now whenever I feel that I want to stop the world and jump off, instead of grabbing for the snacks, I grab for my Bible along with my Magnificat or The Word Among Us. And quite frankly, just last week, that is what saved me from thousands of calories and more importantly a heaping portion of discouragement. My husband, who is a deacon, had to leave early to serve at the 7am Mass, so we were not able to do the Readings together as we normally do. On this morning, the bad news had been over the top in terms of the continued fallout from COVID-19 and the ongoing political and civil unrest. Some quotes from my favorite and patron saint, St. Teresa of Avila, came to mind while I was trying not to lose it as I was prepping for my radio show, including, “Lord if this is the way you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few.” Or this one to which we can all certainly relate, “sometimes life is like a night in a bad inn.”
How, I wondered, was I ever going to provide some encouragement for my radio listeners, when I felt so discouraged myself? I needed that quiet time with Jesus. I stepped away from the computer, shut off the news blaring from the television down the hall, and decided to see what Jesus had to say. While I was turning to the Readings, at the same time, I found myself desperately asking God to do something and soon. Well, I more than chuckled when I saw the 1st Reading that day from the Old Testament Book of Job. There I was whining to the Creator of the universe, that He needed to get busy. That is when God, through His Word, lovingly but firmly reminded me, that whatever was going on back in Job’s day, or currently in the 21st century, this is not His first rodeo. God is still God and we are not. And, yes, God is still on His throne.
That’s just part of the powerful Readings for that day. There is much more of what God had to say to Job and to us, but I think you get the point. The Gospel was also another kick in the pants — with our Lord telling me and you, that unless we turn and become like children, we will not enter heaven. We needed to deeply trust that no matter how bad things seem, He has a plan.
In my new book, “Listening for God: Discovering the Incredible Ways God Speaks to Us,” I share some incredible ways God speaks or is trying to speak to us. But if we want to hear from God, we must silence ourselves and see what He has to say beginning with His love letter, Sacred Scripture. All the contributors who told their stories of Jesus working in their lives, mention the importance of being open, and that starts with silencing the noise.
All of the noise in the world, as the quote from C.S Lewis points out, is meant to distract us, alarm us, and most of all, as Fr. John Riccardo explains, discourage us. Do not let that happen. Grab your Bible, a cup of tea, and settle down for some quiet teatime with Jesus. And always remember God really does have the whole world in His hands.
If you have an inspiring story to share, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.