“Do not worry about your life.” -Jesus

For a year or so in college, I lived in a constant state of on-edge.

I was the journalism major who worried all the time, who suffered from anxiety.

My body held down the here and now, but my mind wouldn’t sit still. Thoughts raced, and I entertained “what-ifs” and concocted all kinds of scenarios.

Which is why I really needed it one night when I stumbled upon this quote:

“Anxiety is a temptation in itself and also the source from and by which other temptations come.
Sadness is that mental pain which is caused by the involuntary evils which affect us. These may be external – such as poverty, sickness, contempt of others – or they may be internal – such as ignorance, dryness in prayer, aversion, and temptation itself. 

When the soul is conscious of some evil, it is dissatisfied because of this, and sadness is produced. The soul wishes to be free from this sadness, and tries to find the means for this.
If the soul seeks deliverance for the love of God, it will seek with patience, gentleness, humility, and calmness, waiting on God’s providence rather than relying on its own initiative, exertion, and diligence. If it seeks from self-love, it is eager and excited and relying on self rather than God. 

Anxiety comes from an irregulated desire to be delivered from the evil we experience. Therefore, above all else, calm and compose your mind. Gently and quietly pursue your aim.”

The quote comes from St. Francis de Sales.

In it, I found hope.

And later the same week, I found another anxiety quote, by chance:

“Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow. The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow, and every day. Either he will shield you from suffering, or he will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then. Put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.”

That quote, as it turns out, also comes from St. Francis de Sales.

Two in a week? This is too much, I thought. Who is this guy? So the journalist in me did a little digging. Which is how I discovered that Francis de Sales is the patron saint of journalists. Which is how I knew that my finding those quotes when I did wasn’t an accident.

That God knew I needed the reminders.

That I had forgotten what Jesus said, in what is probably now my most-read passage of scripture:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…” (Matt. 6:25)

May we remember today and always that He said it with sincerity.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I just got back from a weekend retreat during which all I felt was anxiety and restlessness, and I could just feel the funk sinking in, threatening to stay. This post filled me with so much peace in and gratitude for the providence of God. Thanks for the small act of justice you’ve done by writing this post. 🙂 St. Francis de Sales saves the day again!

  • I love these “God-incidences”!(as Fr. Toups once put it). I need to be reminded of this every single day.

  • These quotations work very well for regular folks who are struggling with the problems of life. But pathological disorders like depression/OCD/bi-polar/etc. are a bit more delicate. Christians especially need to be VERY aware that not all mental/emotional problems are “spiritual” problems.

    More often than we realize, there is brain dysfunctionality at work, or hormonal or endocrine problems, or some other physiological issue. And then there is the whole range of experiential and environmental factors. These things require medical treatment and a psychotherapy that works from the Christian understanding of the human person.

    I know you know this, Arlene. But there are some Catholics and other Christians who don’t accept the existence of mental illness. As a result, they fail to get adequate medical care for themselves or their loved ones, and this leads to all kinds of serious and, alas, tragic consequences.

    We need educated and dedicated Christians in the mental health professions.

    • Amen, John. Fabulous points.

      I, too, have encountered fellow followers of Christ who call anxiety a sin, for instance, or who aren’t proponents of what I study in school, or aren’t all right with therapists or therapy. Funny, since they worship a “wonderful counselor.” Voices like yours are needed. Thanks so much!

  • OH MY GOSH St. Francis de Sales is the best for anxiety. Check out his “Letters of Spiritual Direction” (with Jane de Chantal) for some anti-anxiety awesomeness. (Your second quote here is from one of those letters. It’s one I copied down and put on my refrigerator until I gave it to my then-fiance.) This book has “win” all over it.

    John – yes, thank you for pointing this out. This is absolutely true.

    -Mary from IT

    • RIGHT?! Thanks so much, Mary. I actually haven’t read his Letters of Spiritual Direction, but I’m adding it to my list. 🙂

  • I love this! The second quote from St. Francis de Sale is in the youth room at one of my jobs =) It wasn’t until his feast day this year that I really learned about him! He’s just rad.

  • See also: http://IgnatianSpirituality.com/8078/ . It’s a great prayer for many of the incidents of anxiety when we “want it now”.

    • Arleen Spenceley

      That prayer is SO good! Thanks so much for sharing it.

  • Sugath Emmanuel Fernando

    Thank you Arleen for sharing this and thank you all other for your insights too.
    Some days and sometimes I have feelings as such too; believe this article will help me in day to day life. God bless you all.