Libby Caes' Homily from December 16, 2012

Holy Wisdom Monastery Homilies Leave a Comment

Philippians 4, “Rejoice…be anxious for nothing”


I would like to begin by taking a poll. This is for everyone. Not just the grownups but also the youth and kids.


Are you someone who worries? Do you get anxious? Do you ever get stressed?


Raise your hand!!


Once I asked David, my husband, if he ever worries.


His response was something like this , “I don’t have to worry because

you do enough worrying for both of us”


That was a huge reality check!


I will confess that I do get anxious…


Anxious about the warm weather—this is supposed to be winter! Global warming!


Anxious about getting everything done on my “to do” list….


Anxious about preparing and delivering homilies


Anxious about the increasing violence in our society.


Part of being human is to get anxious, to get stressed out, to worry. I think it is unique to homo sapiens.


Recently I searched “anxiety” on the Madison Public Library web site. There were over 300 titles. Here is a very small sampling:


What to do when you worry too much : a kid’s guide to overcoming



Who would I be if I weren’t so afraid?


The complete idiot’s guide to controlling anxiety

The worrywart’s companion : twenty-one ways to soothe yourself and

worry smart


The magic box : when parents can’t be there to tuck you in


How to beat test anxiety & score higher on the SAT & all other exams


Clearly, there is a problem and a market for titles such as these!

But, anxiety and stress isn’t always a bad thing.


If I didn’t get anxious about preparing and delivering my homily, I

probably would have nothing to say and you would tune me out real



A bit of anxiety can energize and get the adrenaline flowing. But, too much anxiety can control us and that is not a good thing.


It is not a good thing to wake up in the morning worrying about the day ahead.


It is not a good thing to go to school full of dread, afraid that the

classroom bully is going to pick on you again or that you will not be



It is not a good thing to drive to work crying because you don’t want to be there.


It is not good thing to worry about who might be carrying a gun

concealed in their clothes.


Get the picture?


Paul tells us not to worry about anything.


“Do not worry about anything but in everything by your prayers with

thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”


Paul is echoing Jesus:


Do not worry about your life…can any of you by worrying add a single

hour to your span of life?


There is nothing to be gained by worrying.


Instead, worry, anxiety can shorten a person’s life by triggering

chronic health problems.


What do we with all our worries and anxieties?


Paul tells us to let our requests be made known to God.


How do we do that?


Let them go. Isn’t this what prayer is?


Rather than hold them clenched in our hands, we open our hands and

let them go. And, then receive the good things that God wants to give



Sometimes when I am with a very anxious patient I suggest a ritual.


Write down on a piece of paper all the things you are worried about,

one worry per piece of paper. And, put them in a worry box.


Sometimes I will do this with them….And I will find some paper and

write them down. Then I find a cup or something to put each one of the worries in and I say them out loud and we say a short prayer after each one, something like “I give this to you, God”. Almost always, the person feels more free after we have done this.


I have also suggested this to anxious and stressed residents

Let go of the anxious thoughts rather than let them control you.


Or, if I wake up in the middle of the night and the worry machine is

going 100 miles an hour, I will get up, get out my journal and list all

the things on my mind. Get them out of mind onto paper. Usually, I get back in bed and go right to sleep.


Let go of the anxious thoughts rather than let them control you.


Or, tell someone who you trust why you are anxious about and get a

reality check. This, too, is letting go.


All of these are much better than letting the anxious thoughts churn inside.


Each of these is a form of prayer.


Paul also tells us that our Savior is near.


How close is our God?


to quote St Augustine…God is closer to me than I am to myself


God is closer to us than our thoughts or our breaths or the

feelings we carrying in our bodies.


Our savior is near to us in other ways as well:


God is near to us in contemplative prayer, in our wordless, trusting

opening of self to the divine presence.


God is near us in the person sitting next to us.


God is near us in the parent who tucks us in at night.


God is present to us in the people who serve us in the school cafeteria, our co-workers, our family.


God is near us in the person who will extend the peace of Christ to you in a few moments.


God is near us as we come to the table, eat the bread and drink from the cup.


Lastly, Paul reminds us to rejoice always.


Rejoice in the Savior always, again I will say rejoice.


This is Advent.

In Advent we celebrate that God has become flesh, God has become one of us.


God is with us always. We can never ever be separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus.


God walks with us from the moment we are conceived in our mother’s

womb and walks with us when we leave our physical bodies in what we call death and go on to next stage of our spiritual journey.


This is what we rejoice in.


God is with us.


Whether we feel God’s presence or not. Whether we understand

it or not. God is with us.


God knows what it is to be human.


God has compassion on us when we are anxious.


God is with us. Rejoice! Rejoice!


On your seat I hope you found a slip of paper. It is for you to write down what you are anxious about. During the passing of the peace or when you come to the table to drink from the cup or after the service, put it in the basket on the table. Let that worry go. And then rejoice that God is with you.


Extra slips on the table in front of the altar.


Take a moment now and write down 1 or 2 things you are anxious

about. If you can’t think of anything to write down, you are indeed blessed!


If you need help writing something down or don’t have a pen or pencil, ask the person sitting next to you. This is for everybody to do… if you choose to.


Rejoice in the Savior always;

Again I say, rejoice.


Let your gentleness be known to everyone.


Our Savior is near.


Do not worry about anything, but in everything


by your prayers with thanksgiving,


let your requests be made known to God.


And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding


will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.


Thanks be to God.


Prayers of the people:


That we, the children of God, would live not as anxious people but as people who rejoice that our God is near, we pray.


Come, Christ Jesus, come.


That all who are grieving, particularly those touched by the violence in Connecticut and Syria and Egypt would know your abiding presence, we pray.


Come, Christ Jesus, come.


For those living in darkness and without hope, we pray.

Come, Christ Jesus, come.


For what else shall we pray?


We lift up to God those people we carry in our hearts:


Finally, we remembe those listed in our book of intentions. May our prayers rise as incense to you, O Holy One.




Let us greet one another with the peace of Christ.


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