Tuesday, March 1, 2011

-post card- protect us from all anxiety

In the hours and days following the accident that killed the kids the phone kept on ringing. There were reports that the accident site was a terrible scene, the coroner was away for a holiday so there would be delays releasing their bodies. The accident details were reported on the national news, reporters were calling the house, Fed- Ex was delivering packets from high priced attorneys promising to "represent" us as if somehow money would compensate us for our loss. I had lost all sense of what was normal as my anxiety grew to levels well beyond what any one person should be able to bear.

I've never really given much thought to why the words  that are below are part of the liturgy but my pastor brought it up this week in his homily since the gospel teaching dealt with Jesus teachings on worrying. Many Catholics, myself included tend to listen to those parts of the Mass that have always been- without ever questioning why.

There is a part in the Catholic Mass after the Lords Prayer and before the Sign of Peace where the Priest does a declaration of praise or a doxology if you will; at each and every Mass he says:

 Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, and grant 
us peace in our day. In your mercy in, keep us free from sin,
 and protect us from all anxiety, as we wait in joyful
 hope for coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

It seems in a previous parish my pastor had a parishioner who was a mental health professional who had an issue with part of the prayer ( protect us from all anxiety ) he felt anxiety was necessary even a healthy part of life. I tend to think worry is healthy to a certain degree, anxiety when it reaches levels so great it can't be managed and interferes with your life is just plain unhealthy.

My level of stress and anxiety was off the charts those first days and stayed that way for a long time, this type of stress makes you alert to everything- does something to your brain. The bumps in the night were real to me then, I heard each and every one of them since I hardly ever slept. Its hard to explain the feeling of being intensely afraid but not really knowing what I was afraid of, it is an awful experience. My sense of safety was gone, I was constantly plagued with this feeling that another shoe would drop, that something awful was going to happen to us again. So I waited and waited some more, rarely able to get the rest I needed to function normally.

Once ordinary occurrences like the sight of State Troopers speeding down the Interstate were enough to make my blood run cold until I checked to make sure my children were OK; the vision of their cars lined up in my driveway the morning of the accident seared in my memory forever. A dashboard light on the car had new meaning to me, the slightest threat that anything would place me stranded on the side of the highway, the place my children perished filled me with paralyzing fear.

My life as it was felt horribly wrong to me for a very long time, there was part of me clinging for all I was worth to the past before the accident; as another part of me was at the same time acknowledging  the need to move on, my turmoil was intense.

I think the point I'm trying to make is that prayer takes time, a quiet mind, focus and dedication,  none of which I was capable- due to my anxiety. I would venture to guess that might be why this is included in the Mass. Anxiety can be a barrier to God and it was for me for a time. So if you ever attend a Catholic Mass and wonder if praying to protect a person from anxiety is worthy of your time, take it from me it is.


  1. Hi, this is my first time reading your blog and even though I really don't know what to say, I felt that I had to leave some type of comment. If nothing else, to at least say that I am so, so sorry for your loss, and so sorry that any mother should have to go through what you have gone through.

    Your writing is so real, so articulate, and although I know you are still healing, I know that you will be a source of strength for others that have to walk this awful path as well.

    Wishing you, your husband and family God's peace and blessings .

  2. Cate,
    Its been almost five years and the healing just keeps on going on. There's always something that reminds me- that never ends-its a blessing and a curse.
    Thank you for your lovely comment, please come back again.

  3. can't help but share my favorite anti-anxiety prayer:

    "Do not look forward to what might 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, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations."
    -St Francis de Sales

    Much love to you Cuz. I'm so looking forward to our Easter visit.

  4. Love that prayer, never heard it before.
    Will commit it to memory.

    Excited about Easter plans, love you guys too.

  5. Thank you for your post, Jen. This is my first visit to your site, from a comment you left for Dana.
    This perspective is so helpful. The Easleys in Spartanburg, S.C., just lost Benji, age 6, in a miniature train accident, and their other two boys and dad were injured, and I will pray for them for God to help rein in their anxiety and to give them sleep and the ability to pray. They are Christians. I accidentally typed "reign---" God can give a peace that passes understanding in such deep turmoil as you experience.
    Philippians 4:6 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

  6. I got an e-mail about your comment but couldn't find it, it went to my spam folder! Sorry for that, thanks for visiting and for your kind comment.

    I saw that accident on the news. How horrible the loss of that child out of the blue on a day when the family was just having a day out together.

    It makes me a bit sad since I generally know what they will be going thru as a family in the days ahead. However as you said, our prayers for them and for the soul of that little boy will help- I truly believe that.

  7. I just found your site through your comment on Dana's blog. I'm so sorry to hear about your children. I can only imagine the pain you are going through, and I'm sure it's not even close to the reality. I really like that prayer from St. Francis de Sales and I shared it on Facebook. God bless!

  8. Thanks for the words of sympathy and understanding Sunday.

    I agree I liked it too! That prayer was shared by my cousin, who is my Godmothers granddaughter.

    It's certainly worthy of sharing- glad you did it.


I'd love to hear what you have to say, so go ahead and leave a comment. I'll get back with a response as soon as possible.