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When Life Seems Hopeless…

 

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This Week On The Gary Zimak Show…

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Let’s go back to the empty tomb and look at how Mary Magdalene reacted to the evidence that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead. Just like her, we often spend so much time weeping over the problems in our lives that we fail to recognize the risen Lord in our midst. We’ll discuss what finally enabled her to see Jesus and what you can do to see Him too!

Listen to the show here…

Who Is The Patron Saint Of Worriers?

 

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak is available to speak at your parish or conference

Is There A Patron Saint For Worriers?

I get asked this question frequently and it’s a good one. Several years ago, I came up with a list of “10 Saints Every Worrier Should Know” and blogged about them. Some are well known, others are not. If you’re someone who struggles with anxiety, I thought you would benefit if I republished the post. Take some time and get to know these folks. Their stories will help you to understand how powerfully God can work in our lives if we let Him.

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Although we’d rather not admit it, many of us worry (or are tempted to worry) each day of our lives. One of the reasons that we worry is that we sometimes feel we are facing our problems alone. Once we meet others who are dealing with similar problems, we usually feel better. Even more comforting is when we encounter someone who has survived the issue that is troubling us. As Catholics, much can be gained by studying the lives of the saints. Far from living easy lives, these men and women have struggled with many of the same anxiety producing problems experienced by you and I. Furthermore, we know that they’ve ended up we all want to go – Heaven!

Are you anxious or worried? Do you have serious problems in your life? Here are 10 saints that you should get to know. We can learn A LOT from their lives.

1. Saint Dymphna – Many Catholics who are anxious are familiar with Saint Dymphna, the patroness of those afflicted with nervous disorders and anxiety. According to tradition, she was born in Ireland (in the 7th century) to a pagan father and a Christian mother. When Dymphna’s mother died, her distraught father traveled in vain searching for a new wife. Eventually he reached the unimaginable conclusion that he would take Dymphna as his wife! At the urging of a priest, she took flight and was ultimately located and murdered by her father. It’s easy to see the kind of emotional stress that this young girl was under and equally understandable to see why she became known as the patron saint of those who suffer from anxiety. Many miracles are reported to have taken place at her shrine in Belgium, located near the place of her death.

2. Saint Jude Thaddeus – If there’s one saint that Catholics turn to when all looks bleak, it’s Saint Jude Thaddeus. One of the twelve Apostles, he is known as the patron of hopeless cases. Although many are aware of Saint Jude’s reputation for providing assistance when all else fails, there is some confusion as to how he was chosen for that role. One of the most popular theories is that, due to the similarity of his name with that of fellow Apostle Judas, the faithful steered clear of devotion to him. As a result, devotion to him became something of a “lost cause”. He is available and willing to intercede for our most desperate intentions.

3. Saint Rita of Cascia – Born in 1381 in Italy, Saint Rita is known as the patroness of impossible cases. She was married to a man with a violent temper who abused and mistreated her. After eighteen years of marriage, her husband was murdered. One day Rita overheard her two sons plotting to avenge the death of their father. Fearing the loss of their souls, she prayed that her sons would avoid taking revenge on their father’s murderer. Suddenly, both of them took sick and died before any retaliation could take place. Although her prayers were answered in an unlikely manner, they were indeed answered and her sons were prevented from carrying out a grave offense.

4. Saint Padre Pio – With a motto such as “Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry”, it’s easy to see why I included Saint Pio in this list. He was a firm believer in God’s providence and understood that worry was useless. Any time that we waste on worrying could be more productively spent in prayer. What should we pray for? One thing could be an increase in the theological virtue of hope, which allows us to believe that “all things work for the good” (Romans 8:28) and that the problems of this life are temporary. One day, along with Saint Pio, it will be possible for us to live in the problem-free paradise known as Heaven!

5. Saint Henry II – While at Monte Cassino in 1021, Saint Henry II (emperor of the Holy Roman Empire) became ill. Tradition has it that Saint Benedict then cured him by prayer. How common are miraculous cures? Maybe more common than we realize! We’re always quick to downplay God’s involvement in our lives, often referring to favorable outcomes as “luck”. In 1997, my wife and I were told that our twin girls would probably not be born alive. Today, Mary and Elizabeth are healthy 21 year old young adults. Eileen and I (as well as many of the members of the medical staff) know that their survival was a miracle, the fruit of countless prayers. While they were assisted by numerous doctors and nurses, we believe that the Lord worked through these skilled individuals. God can (and does) still perform miracles…let’s give Him the chance!

6. Blessed Julian of Norwich – Although not technically a saint, Blessed Julian of Norwich is greatly revered by many Catholics. Although very little is known about her life, she is famous for a quote that has provided consolation to many throughout the years. Those of us who tend to be anxious sometimes look at the waves crashing around us and fail to see the Lord’s providence. Blessed Julian helps us to regain our focus and recall that God is ultimately in control. “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

7. Saint Vincentia Lopez – Canonized in 1975, Saint Vincentia Lopez was the foundress of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate for Domestic Service, a religious congregation dedicated to ministering to working girls. In a letter to her mother, she wrote: “Come and stay with us, and your ills will certainly mend. Imagination plays a large part in them, and here there are so many distractions that you will have no time to think.” I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”. One of the best ways to stop worrying is to keep busy. If anxiety motivates you to do something, then it can be productive. If, on the other hand, all you’re doing is mulling over the bad things that could happen in your life, it’s time to take Saint Vincentia’s advice and get busy.

8. Saint Juan Diego – I decided to include Juan Diego in this list not because of anything that he said or did, but because of what was said to him. In December of 1531, the Blessed Mother appeared several times to this poor Aztec Indian in Mexico. His bishop was skeptical and asked for a sign. On December 11, Mary promised Juan that on the following day she would give him a sign that he could take to the bishop. The next day, his uncle became seriously ill and Saint Juan avoided meeting Mary as she had instructed him to do. Mary appeared to him and said, “Listen and be sure, my dear son, that I will protect you; do not be frightened or grieve, or let your heart be dismayed, however great the illness that you speak of. Am I not here? I, who am your Mother, and is not my help a refuge? Am I not of your kind? Do not be concerned about your uncle’s illness, for he is not going to die. Be assured, he is already well. Is there anything else you need?” Instead of worrying, have you discussed your problems with Mary? Why not? Just as she did with Saint Juan Diego, she is waiting to help you.

9. Pope Saint Leo the Great – Attila the Hun was a ruthless and powerful warrior who conquered many lands, including Austria and Germany. In 452, he set his sights on Italy and proceeded to successfully conquer several cities and was heading toward Rome. Attila boasted that conquering Rome would be his greatest victory. Standing firm in the face of enormous odds, Pope Saint Leo the Great met Attila and his army near Mantua and convinced the tyrant to change his plans and turn back. Rome was spared. According to tradition, when Attila was asked why he backed down so easily, he noted that while the Holy Father spoke, he saw a vision of Saint Peter holding a sword in his hand. This frightened the ruthless Hun and caused him to change his plans.

10. Saint Stephen Harding – Born in England in the 11th century, Saint Stephen Harding was educated at the Sherborne Abbey and eventually became a monk at the Abbey of Molesme in Burgundy. Feeling that the Lord was calling him to found a monastery, he did just that. In 1098, along with twenty other monks, St. Stephen founded a monastery at Citeaux. They lived a simple life, in accordance with the Rule of Saint Benedict. Eventually, Saint Stephen was elected abbot. As the monks began to die off, they were not being replaced by novices and their numbers began to dwindle. Just as it seemed the monastery would be forced to close, guess who showed up at the door? Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, along with 30 companions who were looking to join a monastery! During the next 8 years, a dozen new houses had to be built in order to house the many new monks who joined the order. This story serves as a reminder that God does provide, although he operates according to His own schedule. Sometimes He allows us to walk in the darkness in order to strengthen our faith. God will never give up on us…don’t make the mistake of giving up on Him!

In addition to being inspired by their lives, these saints can help us in another important way. As residents of Heaven, they can intercede on our behalf and help us to obtain the graces we need to deal with our problems. They have all “been there, done that” and know what it’s like to experience difficulties. They also know what it’s like to live in eternal happiness and are more than willing to do what they can to ensure that we too experience that joy. Don’t make the mistake of facing your problems alone. Turn to your heavenly friends and ask for their help today!

Trust Is A Decision…Not A Feeling!

 

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak is available to speak at your parish or conference

Do you struggle to trust Jesus? Is it difficult to surrender your life to Him? You are not alone!

Here’s what you need to do. Take a look at the Divine Mercy image above and pray the words at the bottom. Repeat as often as needed. Wait a minute, you might ask. What about if I don’t feel like I trust Him? Wouldn’t that be lying?

Not at all! Trust is a decision, not a feeling. You can choose to trust the Lord even if you’re scared to death. But wait, it gets even better. The more you consciously decide to trust Jesus with your problems, the more your trust will grow. Try it out and see what happens.

By the way, in case you’re still not convinced, check out what St. Faustina had to say in her diary:

You know, Lord, how weak I am. I am an abyss of wretchedness, I am nothingness itself; so what will be so strange if You leave me alone and I fall? I am an infant, Lord, so I cannot get along by myself. However, beyond all abandonment I trust, and in spite of my own feeling I trust, and I am being completely transformed into trust-often in spite of what I feel.
(Diary, 1489, emphasis mine)

Jesus, I Trust In You!

Book Gary Zimak To Lead Your 2020 Parish Mission!

 

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak is available to speak at your parish or conference

Are you looking for a one-of-a-kind parish mission that will set your parish on fire for Jesus Christ? Leading Catholic speaker and best-selling author Gary Zimak is now booking parish missions, talks and retreats for 2020 and beyond.

Want an idea of what to expect from a Gary Zimak parish mission? The following short video (recorded at the Church of the Holy Family in Sewell, NJ) will give you an insight:

Gary Zimak will help your parishioners to understand that Jesus Christ is real and wants to be a part of their daily lives. He will use his expertise as the leading Catholic speaker/author on overcoming anxiety to offer simple and effective techniques for breaking free from worry and moving closer to Christ. Best of all, everyone who attends a parish mission led by Gary Zimak will experience a greater desire to share Jesus with others.

Don’t delay! Click on the following banner to find out how to bring Gary Zimak to your parish/conference in 2020! (Gary still has dates available for 2019. Please contact us ASAP to secure your date today!)

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak is available to speak at your parish or conference

Feeling Blessed To Be Alive!

 

So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. (1 Thessalonians 5:6)

 

Just Another Day

April 3, 2019 started off as “just another day” for me. I said goodbye to my wife and daughters, blessed them, drove to work at the parish, took care of multiple emails and led a rosary for our Senior Adult Ministry. At 3 PM, I went over to the chapel and prayed a Chaplet of Divine Mercy for all the souls in purgatory. As always, I emphasized “those who will die today”. Never did I think that I could have been praying for myself.

I left the parish at 4 PM, said a prayer for safe travels and prepared for the drive home. It was a beautiful day and I was looking forward to a peaceful ride. As I typically do, I alternated between listening to podcasts, Christian music and praying. The traffic on the Pennsylvania Turnpike seemed lighter than normal and all was well. At around 4:15, there appeared to be a slowdown (which is nothing out of the ordinary) and I applied my brakes and came to a stop. I looked in the rearview mirror (an instinctive move) and saw a car approaching at an uncomfortable rate of speed. Time seemed to slow down as I braced for the inevitable. I was about to take a direct hit by a car traveling at 70 miles per hour!

What happened next is a bit blurry in my mind. For what seemed like minutes (it was actually a matter of seconds), my car was propelled head on into the concrete divider, spun around completely and came to rest facing the oncoming rush hour traffic. By the grace of God, I was able to collect my thoughts and drive the car to the shoulder of the highway. The person who hit me had also pulled over to the side of the road and was waiting in the car. I was surprisingly calm as I called ‘911’ and my wife. A gentleman from roadside assistance then opened my passenger door to make sure I was okay. My first words to him were:

“I’m blessed to be alive!”

 
As I climbed out of the car, I noticed the postcard of the Blessed Mother and the baby Jesus that I picked up two days earlier at the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa. It was sitting on the passenger seat. A feeling of peace came over me, as I was reminded of their constant presence. I had some neck and back pain and I could feel that I hit my head on something (probably the visor), but I was able to walk unassisted. As I waited to complete the police report and have my car towed, I posted a message on Facebook asking for prayers and pondered how I would get home. Everything worked out perfectly.

A Reminder

Before this incident, I was very aware that my time on earth is limited. I also understood that God expects me to use my gifts to advance His Kingdom. That is why I gave notice at the parish earlier this week. I’ve been feeling a strong calling to return to full time ministry as a speaker and author. There is work to be done. I understood that. But now that understanding is stronger than ever. The fact that I’m alive today is a reminder that the Lord isn’t ready for me yet. He still needs me to work for Him on earth. People need to know that Jesus Christ is real and wants to be a part of their everyday lives. He also wants them to have hope and be at peace. I plan to spend the rest of my life spreading that message.

He has a plan for you as well. If you haven’t surrendered your life to Jesus, do it today. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Ask Him to use you as His instrument. Don’t worry that you’re not qualified. None of us are. He will do the heavy lifting. All He wants is for you to say, “yes” and depend on His assistance. He will handle the details.

I am alive for a reason and so are you. Jesus is counting on us to assist Him. I’m all in. How about you?

Meet Mary Zimak!

 

Today is World Autism Awareness Day and I thought you might enjoy some insights from my daughter, Mary. I asked her to write about what it’s like to live with autism. I didn’t edit her words at all. I’m sure you’ll agree that my daughter is one amazing young lady. Please share this post and keep Mary in your prayers as she attempts to find meaningful employment that utilizes her God-given talents. Thank you!

Hi everyone.

My name is Mary Zimak, and I am one of the twin daughters of my father, Gary. I am writing this today because I want you to know something unique about me.

I have a mild form of autism known as Pervasive Development Disorder, or simply PDD. I was diagnosed with this form of autism when I was four years old. I actually don’t remember being diagnosed with it because I was so young—in fact, I never knew I had it until my parents told me many years later.

Since then, there have been many strengths and weaknesses of PDD that I have had over the years. Here are a few examples:

Strengths:

-I have a good memory. Whenever my parents ask me about something that had happened in the past (such as where we went or when we went there), I usually remember when they can’t.

-I am good at Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. Whenever my family doesn’t know the answer to a question, I immediately know the answer right away, depending on what the question is about.

-I like going to local events and young adult groups that are specifically designed for people with special needs. I have made several new friends there and I always look forward to going to these places.

-Because of my PDD, I tend to have “unique” obsessions. Two of my current ones are YouTube and Spotify.

Weaknesses:

-Sometimes when someone in our family mentions something I liked or did in the past (i.e. a certain TV show or movie I grew up watching, something that happened to me in elementary school, etc.), it tends to upset me. (Once, a few years ago, my parents were on YouTube looking up several theme songs and/or segments from several TV shows I grew up watching. Thankfully, I wasn’t in the room with them, but I’d probably start crying if I was.)

-I tend to get angry very easily, especially when it comes to something I don’t understand in math. (Sometimes if I’m working on a math problem, it easily frustrates me because I’m having trouble understanding it.)

-I have trouble adjusting to changes in a routine. (I’m not going to give an example of this because it’s pretty self-explanatory.)

I would take the time to write more, but these are some of the many strengths and weaknesses of PDD that I have had over the years. If any of you reading this have PDD or some similar form of it, then maybe you can relate to some of the things I mentioned above. One thing to remember: You’re not alone. God made every one of us unique and He loves us all, no matter what!

Thank you for reading this and have a great day!!

~Mary Zimak

Let’s Give Up Worry For Lent – TOGETHER!

 
Are you serious about giving up worry for Lent? Well, I have good news for you! Beginning on Ash Wednesday (Mar 6), I’ll be offering advice every Wednesday at 6:35 AM ET on EWTN Radio’s The Son Rise Morning Show. If you’re reading Give Up Worry For Lent, this will give you a chance to see how you’re doing on a weekly basis. If not, that’s fine too. You can still get some weekly help for breaking free from worry and turning to the Lord. It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been worrying. Now is the time to break free. Are you ready?

Let’s Do This!

How Important Is Love?

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak is available to speak at your parish or conference

A Reflection on the Mass Readings for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Cor 13:1-3)

When taken as a whole, the readings from this Sunday’s Mass are incredibly powerful. If we fail to do that and selectively choose our favorite concepts, however, we can easily get into big trouble and completely miss the point. Yes, it’s important to live our Catholic Faith and speak the truth, but there’s more to it than that. As St. Paul clearly states, we must do it with love. Otherwise, we are doing more harm than good.

The Gospel and First Reading for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time remind us of the importance of speaking the truth and expecting opposition, but the Second Reading lays down some important groundwork. As Christians, all that we say or do must be done with charity. And, although it sounds simple, it is not always easy.

You don’t need me to tell you that there is a great deal of nastiness on social media. Some of it is just mean spirited ugliness, but there is another kind that is more insidious. What often begins as an attempt to evangelize or share the truth sometimes turns into name calling or worse. Just because we are pro-life or pro-Catholic doesn’t give us the right to belittle or berate those who disagree with our position. Those individuals we attack are sons and daughters of our Father. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Far from being empty rhetoric, this is the absolute truth. God loves them and so must we. Have I violated this principle in the past? You bet. It was a painful lesson to learn, but I now know that I was wrong.

Jesus wants us to speak the truth, but He expects us to do it with love. It can be difficult, but with His grace it is possible. It’s not a suggestion, it’s a commandment. As Christians, it’s what we do!

“I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34)

Looking to bring the leading Catholic speaker on anxiety to your parish or conference? Gary Zimak is now booking parish missions, retreats and talks for 2019 and beyond. Click HERE to find out more!

Listen To Your Blessed Mother!

In Sunday’s Gospel, we hear of a wedding reception that took place two thousand years ago at Cana in Galilee. At this celebration, Jesus performed His first miracle and turned water into wine. And, while the focus is understandably on Jesus, there are some important details about the Blessed Mother that should not be overlooked.

The Guest List – Take a look at St. John’s list of wedding guests. Did you notice that Mary is listed first? She is even mentioned before Jesus. It seems apparent that the evangelist is trying to call attention to her presence. Mary is there for a reason.

The Problem – Mary approaches her Son and informs Him that the wine had run out. She didn’t tell Him how or when to fix the problem. Her exact words were, “They have no wine”. This tells us something about Mary. Her motherly concern allowed her to discover a potentially embarrassing problem for the bride and groom. Instead of trying to solve the problem on her own, she brought it to the attention of Jesus.

The Reaction – At first it appears that Jesus is rebuking His mother, but that is not the case. While it is true that Jesus appears to object (“Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”), Mary immediately went to the servers and instructed them to obey His instructions. Why would she do this if she thought He was denying her request? In reality, Mary knew that her Son was about to respond to her plea and save the day.

The Takeaway – As our Heavenly Mother, Mary is always watching over us and looking for the problem areas in our lives. If she sees that we’re in trouble, she goes to Jesus and intercedes on our behalf. As illustrated by this story, Jesus takes her intercession very seriously. If we were wise, we’d get to know the Blessed Mother and ask for her assistance frequently. It would also be a good idea to pay attention to her final recorded words in Scripture…

“Do whatever He tells you.”

After looking at those words, it’s easy to understand why we never see another quote from her in the pages of the Bible.

What else needs to be said?

Listen To Your Blessed Mother by Gary Zimak

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Oh No! Jesus Is Coming And I’m Not Ready…

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak is available to speak at your parish or conference

How’s your Advent going?

With Christmas a few days away and Advent winding to a close, you may be questioning my timing. We’ve had three weeks to get rid of the clutter in our lives and make room for Jesus. Isn’t it too late to do anything about it now? Fortunately for us, it’s never too late.

It may seem out of place to focus on Good Friday as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, but one of the many lessons that Christ teaches us from the Cross is that it’s never too late to repent and turn to Him. Do you remember the “good thief” who was being crucified next to Jesus? If anyone ever had a reason to despair, it was this guy! But, while bound to a cross and preparing to die for his crimes, he owned up to his misdeeds and pleaded for mercy:

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42)

The Lord’s response gives us an idea of how merciful He can be when we approach Him with repentant hearts.

“Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

Jesus knew that the thief was limited in what he could do and didn’t hold it against him. In a similar way, He also knows that we only have a few days to prepare for His arrival. Rather than despair over wasted time, let’s use these final days to make room for Him. I guarantee it’s not too late!

Jesus, I’m sorry that I wasted time during the Advent season. I invite you to come into my heart now and transform me. Increase my desire to follow you in all areas of my life. Just as you did with the “good thief”, I know you will hear and answer my prayer. Amen.

Looking to bring the leading Catholic speaker on anxiety to your parish or conference? Gary Zimak is now booking parish missions, retreats and talks for 2019 and beyond. Click HERE to find out more!