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Are You Tired Of Living In Fear? Help Is On The Way!


 

Catholic Speaker and Author Gary Zimak announces his latest book, From Fear To Faith: A Worrier's Guide To Discovering Peace

Are you tired of living in fear? Are you looking for a step-by-step approach to experiencing peace in your daily life? My latest book, From Fear To Faith: A Worrier’s Guide To Discovering Peace will be available in August of 2014. Pre-ordering will begin soon.

Stay tuned for more information!

Want To Move From Fear To Faith? Join Me On Catholic Answers Live!


 

Catholic Speaker Gary Zimak will be appearing on Catholic Answers Live on March 14 to discuss how to overcome anxiety.

Need some help making the journey from fear to faith? No problem! Tune in to Catholic Answers Live on Friday, March 14 at 6 PM Eastern. I’ll be on for the full hour discussing my new book “From Fear To Faith: A Worrier’s Guide To Discovering Peace” (coming in August) and taking listener calls. If your local Catholic radio station doesn’t carry the show, you can listen live HERE.

A Little Faith Goes A Long Way!


 

How important is faith? According to Jesus, it’s VERY important:

“Whatever you ask for in prayer, you will receive it if you have faith.” (Matthew 18:22)

“Daughter, your faith has made you well.” (Mark 5:34)

“Rise and go on your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:19)

We often become uncomfortable when we read Jesus’ words, fearing that the reason our prayers aren’t answered is due to a lack of faith. This can result in anxiety because we don’t know how to increase our faith. In fact, doesn’t the Church teach that faith is a gift? If that’s the case, is there ANYTHING that we can do to increase it? Interestingly enough, the apostles had the same concern and took it up with Jesus:

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5)

As per usual, Jesus’ answer is a bit surprising:

The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to [this] mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” (Luke 17:6)

If we read between the lines, the Lord appears to be telling the apostles that they are not making use of the faith that they already have. This message applies to each one of us. While praying for an increase in faith is certainly a recommended practice, are we making use of what we’ve already been given? A good example of putting faith into practice can be found by looking at an event that occurred as Jesus and His disciples experienced a storm while riding in a boat. While this is hardly a story that ever gets used to illustrate what strong faith looks like, dissecting it can yield some surprising conclusions.

He got into a boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. The men were amazed and said, “What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?” (Matthew 8: 23-27)

For years, I would look at this story and criticize the disciples, wondering how they could be worried when Jesus was in the boat with them. Recently, however, I’ve come to realize that they handled this situation a lot better than I’ve handled similar events in my life. Instead of just worrying when they realized their lives were in danger, they went to Jesus and asked Him to save them. That was smart! How many times do we begin worrying about our problems and forget to pray? The fruit of their prayer was that Jesus calmed the storm. He didn’t say, “Sorry, you didn’t trust me. You’re on your own!” Notice also that Jesus never said they had no faith, saying instead that they possessed “little” faith. Obviously, they had some degree of faith in Christ because they went to Him for help. They believed that He could fix the problem. While their faith may have been weak, they had SOME faith and that was enough!

While it’s encouraging to realize that we can indeed “move mountains” with faith the size of a mustard seed, imagine what we could do if our faith was even greater! So what can we do? How is it possible to increase our faith? In his apostolic letter Porta Fidei, Pope Benedict XVI addressed this very question:

Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy. It makes us fruitful, because it expands our hearts in hope and enables us to bear life-giving witness: indeed, it opens the hearts and minds of those who listen to respond to the Lord’s invitation to adhere to his word and become his disciples. Believers, so Saint Augustine tells us, “strengthen themselves by believing”.

One of the best ways for our faith to grow is by putting the faith we already have into practice. The more we trust in the Lord and His providence, the more He will increase our faith. This often means stepping into action, even if we’re afraid. It means praying for a miracle healing or a new job, even when the odds are against you. The very act of praying implies that you do have faith and that you’re trusting in God. You may not trust a lot, but you trust enough to ask for His help. Don’t let the fact that you’re afraid cause you distress. Being afraid isn’t as important as what you do with that fear. The disciples were afraid during the storm, but that fear led them to go to Jesus. They exercised what little faith they had and the Lord came to their assistance. Good things happen when we step out in faith. The greatest example of this can be seen when we look at the life of our Blessed Mother. Her “yes” (even though she didn’t know most of the details) resulted in the arrival of our Savior!

By all means we should continue to ask the Lord to increase our faith, but we must never forget to make use of the faith we already have by praying frequently and with confidence. By doing so, an outpouring of graces and blessings will be unleashed…even if our faith is as small as a mustard seed!

“Faith is one foot on the ground, one foot in the air, and a queasy feeling in the stomach.” (Mother Angelica)

Don’t Let Fear Stop You From Saying “Yes”!


 

“If you want to do something for the Lord, do it! Whatever you feel needs to be done, even though you’re shaking in your boots and you’re scared to death – take the first step. The grace comes with that first step, and you get the grace as you step. Being afraid is not a problem. It’s doing nothing when you’re afraid, that’s the problem.” (Mother Angelica)

It’s okay to be afraid.

Are you kidding me? The author of A Worrier’s Guide To The Bible and a frequent speaker on conquering anxiety is saying that there’s nothing wrong with being afraid…what’s going on here? Well, friends, I really did mean what I said. As I often state in my parish talks, fear is a perfectly normal emotion in certain circumstances. It can even be helpful, especially when it motivates us to DO something. On the other hand, fear becomes a problem when it leads to worry or causes us to NOT do something that we should do.

God often asks us to do things that frighten us…

Share our Faith with others, some of whom may react in a hostile manner.

Apologize to someone we have offended.

Trust in His providence by accepting a lesser paying, but more rewarding job.

Offer up our illness or suffering.

Two years ago, after dismissing the idea numerous times as being “impossible”, my wife and I felt that we were being called to homeschool our children. Although we were afraid and skeptical, we trusted (barely) that the Lord would be there for us. We said, “yes”. A few months later, I was laid off from my day job, and we decided that I should finally try to earn a living as a full time Catholic Evangelist. Again, we again said, “yes”. To be totally honest, however, we were scared to death both times. What we’ve discovered in the past two years is that if you say “yes” to the Lord (even if you’re terrified), He can do some incredible things in your life. Even better is that, the more you trust, the more He’ll increase your faith.

The Bible contains numerous stories of people who went along with God’s plan for their lives. Moses, Abraham, Jonah (reluctantly!), Samuel, Isaiah, Mary, Sts. Peter and Paul all said “yes” to the Lord without knowing most of the details. As a result, God was able to use them in amazing ways. In the same way, He wants to use us. Best of all, even our fear isn’t enough to thwart His plans. The only thing that will stop it from happening is when we answer with one word…

“No”!

Congratulations, Mary And Elizabeth!


 

A few years ago, my wife Eileen and I got the “crazy” idea that we should homeschool our daughters. They were in the sixth grade at the time, but we felt that the Lord was telling us we should do what we previously thought to be impossible. We prayed for several months, attending a Catholic homeschool conference and talked to many people. Finally, we reached the decision to move forward, believing (kind of) that if God really was calling us to do this, He would provide the needed graces. In September of 2011, Mary and Elizabeth started the seventh grade with their teacher, Eileen. After a shaky start (lots of adjustment for all), things got even crazier a few months later when I was laid off from my job as a project manager. Eileen and I then reached the “even crazier than homeschooling” decision that I should try to “make it” as a full time Catholic Evangelist!

After two amazing years, Mary and Elizabeth graduated from the eighth grade this week. I couldn’t be prouder of them and their wonderful teacher(a.k.a. my lovely wife). They have all worked very hard and have done a FANTASTIC job. Since I’m working at home, I had the privilege of being their religion teacher this year and they both received an “A+”! This experience has drawn us closer together as a family and we’ve learned the meaning of the phrase “if God brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it”.

Congratulations, Mary and Elizabeth. Your Mom and Dad are VERY proud of you. And, while I’m at it, I’d like all of you to know just how much I love and respect Eileen for sacrificing so much for the sake of our girls. She’s taught me the meaning of the word “selfless”. Thank you, Jesus, for providing us all with this great opportunity to do your will. Please guide us as we continue this amazing journey!

A Prayer For An End To Worry


 

Earlier today, I discovered this prayer in a “Healing and Hope” prayer book published by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. It may very well be the BEST prayer that I’ve ever seen on the subject of worry. If you’re worried about something, I recommend that you pray the following words from your heart. And if you’re someone who has a tendency to worry about lots of things, be sure to bookmark this page or print a copy. It’s really THAT good!

Prayer For An End To Worry
Jesus, you know I am a worrier. I don’t want to be. I believe that God, our Father, will take care of me, but sometimes I question the strength of my faith. Many times, I give my worries to You, and then I take them back. Help me to take control of those worries I can do something about and let go of the worries that are out of my hands. I fret about many things, yet from experience, I know that you take care of my needs. No matter what happens, I can count on You to be by my side. Still at times I am weak, questioning my own abilities, and before I know it, again I am worrying. You are my hope, Jesus and I trust You. Heal me of this weakness, Jesus. Give me peace of mind. Help me direct my energy to action, not worry. Amen.

Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen?


 

Why would a loving God allow bad things to happen?

Yesterday’s tragedy at the Boston Marathon certainly brings this question to the minds of many people. If God really loves us, why does He allow us to suffer? Why does He permit terrorism, child abuse and natural disasters to occur? While the brutally honest and truthful answer is that “He’s God and He knows what He’s doing”, there are a few specific points that can help us to better understand these tragedies. And, quite frankly, understanding them can often make the difference between moving closer to the Lord or turning our backs on Him.

Free Will – God loves us so much that He gives us the gift of free will. This means that while we are free to do good, we also have the ability to do evil. The person or persons who caused the explosions in Boston chose to commit an evil act. In no way did God cause this to happen. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC):

Angels and men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have sinned. Thus has moral evil, incommensurably more harmful than physical evil, entered the world. God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil. He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it. (CCC 311)

Greater Good – In his Letter To The Romans, St. Paul states that “We know that IN EVERYTHING God works for good with those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28, emphasis mine) Not just the good things, but the bad things too. How is it possible that good can result from the mutilation and murder of innocent people? While I don’t claim to understand all of God’s reasons, there are a few obvious ones that stand out. When tragedy occurs, we get to see people helping one another. Every time a tragedy takes place, there are numerous stories of heroism and genuine love of neighbor that emerge. We also see an increase in prayer. Many people who aren’t used to praying suddenly “hit their knees”. We’re also reminded of our mortality and how we’re not really in control of our own destiny.

In time we can discover that God in his almighty providence can bring a good from the consequences of an evil, even a moral evil, caused by his creatures: “It was not you”, said Joseph to his brothers, “who sent me here, but God. . . You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive.” From the greatest moral evil ever committed – the rejection and murder of God’s only Son, caused by the sins of all men – God, by his grace that “abounded all the more”,brought the greatest of goods: the glorification of Christ and our redemption. But for all that, evil never becomes a good. (CCC 312)

Trust – When tragic events occur, we are given an opportunity to trust God. It is during the dark times that we must truly “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). When skies are blue, it’s a lot easier for us to trust than during storms. However, storms often give us the best chance to grow closer to the Lord.

We firmly believe that God is master of the world and of its history. But the ways of his providence are often unknown to us. Only at the end, when our partial knowledge ceases, when we see God “face to face”, will we fully know the ways by which – even through the dramas of evil and sin – God has guided his creation to that definitive sabbath rest for which he created heaven and earth. (CCC 314)

An Invitation – When bad things happen, either in our own life or in the lives of others, we are invited to assist God in bringing good out of evil. We can do this by praying. Although the Lord doesn’t need our help, He allows us to help Him through the act of prayer.

Since Abraham, intercession – asking on behalf of another has been characteristic of a heart attuned to God’s mercy. In the age of the Church, Christian intercession participates in Christ’s, as an expression of the communion of saints. In intercession, he who prays looks “not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others,” even to the point of praying for those who do him harm. (CCC 2635)

Heaven – As much as we’d like it to be, this world is not perfect. Pain and suffering do exist. Accepting this will cause us to remain calm when these events occur. In addition, it will increase our desire for heaven, where there is NO PAIN AND SUFFERING!

We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere “to the end” and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God’s eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ.

Although it’s not easy, it’s crucial for us to keep our eye on the Lord when “bad things” happen. Blaming Him for the suffering, although understandable, is neither accurate or wise. If we truly believe that He loves us, we should strive to see His goodness in everything. Doing so will bring us great peace, even in times of turmoil.

10 Positive Things That Happen When We Pray


 

Why should I bother to pray?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably asked yourself this question at least once in your life. Whether it’s motivated by the fact that “God already knows what I need” or by “God doesn’t answer my prayers”, the fact of the matter is that the question does get raised by all of us. Even worse, we sometimes take it a step further and stop praying. In an attempt to highlight the importance of prayer and combat the desire to give it up, here are 10 positive things that happen EVERY time we pray from the heart:

1. We Receive – Without exception, sincere prayer is always effective. Although we don’t always receive what we want, we always get “something”. According to Jesus, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Mt 7:7-8) As we read further, however, He assures us that we’ll only receive good things and will never get something that will hurt us (spiritually). Sometimes this frustrates us because we’re often confused about what we TRULY need. If we look at this from a “glass half full” point of view, even when God says “no” to our requests, we are receiving protection from something that could potentially hurt our chance at salvation!

2. We Follow God’s Will – In the Bible (the inspired word of God), St. Paul writes that we should “pray constantly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and goes on to say that this is God’s will for us. When we pray, we’re doing exactly what God wants us to do at that moment in time. How often can we say that with certainty about our other activities?

3. We Profess Our Faith – When we pray, we acknowledge our belief in God. While it sounds like a “no brainer”, it really is a significant profession of faith. We’d be foolish to pray to Him if we didn’t believe that He exists or that He can help us. Each time we turn to the Lord in prayer, we’re saying “Lord, I believe in You”.

4. We Imitate Christ – The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that Jesus prayed often, especially before the decisive moments of His mission (CCC 2599 – 2606). Whenever we pray, we imitate Our Lord. Whenever we’re tempted to think that “prayer doesn’t do any good”, thinking about Jesus at prayer should put an end to that baseless line of thinking.

“If He who is without sin prayed, how much more ought sinners to pray?” (St. Cyprian of Carthage)

5. We Enter Into A Relationship With God – In her autobiography, St. Teresa of Avila stated that prayer is “being on terms of friendship with God, frequently conversing with Him who, as we know, loves us.” According to the Catechism, “prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure, with His Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit.” (CCC 2565)

6. We Increase Our Chances For Salvation – To put it simply, prayer will help you get to Heaven. Far from just “asking for things”, prayer is an expression of love and a relationship with God. When we pray, we show our love for God and express a desire to do His will. How important is that? Here’s what St. Alphonsus Liguori had to say…

“Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned” (St. Alphonsus Liguori)

7. We Obtain What God Wants To Give Us – While there are some gifts that God will give us even if we don’t ask (the grace that moves us to grow closer to Him, for example), there are other gifts that won’t be granted unless we ask. Jesus attests to this with the words of the Lord’s Prayer (which contains several petitions) and with His teaching that the Father will “give good things to those who ask Him.” (Mt 7:11) Further evidence can be seen in St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians when he urges us to let our requests be made known to God (Phil 4:6). By not asking, we deprive ourselves of many good things that God wants us to have.

“God wills that our desire should be exercised in prayer, that we may be able to receive what He is prepared to give.” (St. Augustine)

8. We Practice Humility – The Bible is filled with verses supporting the virtue of humility:

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)

So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. (1 Peter 5:6)

Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you. (James 4:10)

Every time we pray, we acknowledge that we are dependent on God and that He is almighty. This holds true whether our prayer is one of praise, petition or thanksgiving. It’s difficult to be proud when you’re kneeling in prayer 😉

9. We Obtain Peace – Praying will bring us peace. According to the Bible:

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 4:6-7)

Prayer = Peace. This is VERY appealing to those of us who are prone to anxiety!

10. We Use Our Time Wisely – Unlike useless activities such as worrying and complaining, prayer is a very good use of our time. Since studies have shown that the brain can’t think about two things simultaneously, time focused on prayer means time not spent worrying or pursuing other destructive tasks. Jesus told us to “ask and we shall receive” (Mt 7:7) and that worrying does no good (Lk 12:25). It makes sense to listen to His advice!

Obviously, the prayer that I’m speaking of above is sincere, “from the heart” dialog with God. “Going though the motions” or babbling rote phrases will not produce the above results. When we truly mean the words we pray, however, we can count on every one of these benefits. Remember this the next time you’re tempted to put off praying, thinking that it will do no good. There is no more productive activity we can do on this earth!

Want To See An Example Of Pure, Childlike Faith?


 

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

Here is one of the most beautiful examples of childlike faith that you will ever see. Sadly, many of lose this kind of unrestrained enthusiasm and trust as we grow older and succumb to the world’s negativity and cynicism. Watch as these joyful Dominican sisters receive the news that a new pope has been chosen. Be prepared for chills, tears and an overall good feeling. This is a powerful example of the joy that results from true faith!

Habemus “Negativity”…Be Careful!


 

Habemus Papam!

Those of us who love the Church are very excited that the Holy Spirit has provided us with another Vicar of Christ. Once again, the flock has a shepherd. Since we’re still in Lent, I’ll suppress my desire to say “Alleluia” and instead say “Rejoice”! I’m personally very excited for two reasons. First, I didn’t see this one coming. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was not one of the men on my “Pope radar” and I like that. This is a reminder that God often chooses people who we would NOT choose to do His work. With all of the prayers said for the Cardinals recently, I’m confident that the Holy Spirit was guiding them as they made their decision.

Secondly, I like the fact that Pope Francis is the first Jesuit Pope. After leading the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola last year on my radio show, I’ve grown to love St. Ignatius and his spirituality. Honestly, what’s not to love about someone who coined the motto “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam” (For The Greater Glory Of God)? St. Ignatius was very aware that we often have inordinate attachments that hold us back from loving God fully. The Jesuit motto reminds us that everything we do should be for God’s greater glory, even if it’s not pleasing to us.

Now for the bad news. As many of you already realize, we’ve started to hear and will continue to hear an endless stream of commentary about the new Holy Father:

He’s too liberal.
He’s too conservative.
He’s going to make massive changes.
He’s not going to change enough.
I hope he comes down hard on “Cafeteria Catholics”
I hope he supports the ordination of women
etc, etc…

You get the idea. While the mainstream secular media will be responsible for much of this speculation, you’ll notice that a lot of it will be coming from folks like us. Bloggers and social media types will be giving us reasons why the Holy Spirit erred in selecting the current pontiff. We’ll be tempted to become negative and cynical. I would urge you to resist that temptation and instead thank God for our new Holy Father, keep him in your prayers and to trust in the words of Jesus:

“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt 16:18-19)