Some saints were as prone to worry and anxiety as the rest of us are. But, by placing their trust in the Lord’s presence and care, they were able to overcome their fears. Some of these fears were relatively minor ones, as faced by Bl. Helen of Udine, who, during a period of distress, was terrified even of loud noises.Share
Others were serious fears, as faced by St. Augustine of Canterbury, the abbot of a monastery in Rome. In the year 596, he was chosen by Pope St. Gregory the Great to lead a group of forty monks on a missionary journey to England. (There were some scattered Christian communities there, but the island as a whole was pagan and uncivilized.) Augustine and his companions set out, but on reaching France, they were frightened by stories of the dangerous waters of the English Channel and the fierce temperament of the Anglo- Saxon tribes. Leaving his companions there, Augustine hurried back to confer with the Pope. Gregory encouraged the worried missionary and sent him back on his way, after telling him, “He who would climb a lofty height must go by steps, not by leaps.” Augustine returned to the other missionaries; they crossed over into England and there experienced great success in spreading the Gospel.
It’s said that the words “Be not afraid” appear in Scripture 366 times — one for each day of the year (leap years included). Certainly we need this sort of ongoing reminder and encouragement; life can be difficult and is often filled with anxieties, great and small. Jesus told St. Martha that, unlike her sister Mary, she was “anxious and troubled about many things.” (Luke 10:41) Martha took this correction to heart and learned to trust in the Lord — so much so that later, even as she grieved the death of her brother Lazarus, she was able to acknowledge Jesus as the Resurrection and the life (John 11:24-27).
Martha’s sister St. Mary Magdalene likewise acknowledged Christ’s power on this occasion; she was one of the few followers of Christ who, on Good Friday, dared to proclaim her loyalty to Him publicly by standing beneath His Cross (John 19:25), and for her courage and devotion she was rewarded by being the first witness of the Resurrection (John 20:11-18). (Read more.)