I’m hoping someone can help me. I am in my mid-50’s and am a cradle Catholic, and came back full force into the faith about 18 years ago. I pray my Rosary daily, often attend daily Mass and always attend Sunday Mass. I try to steep myself in the faith as much as possible while working in a corporate tax department. As a way of background, I have struggled with anxiety and panic most of my adult life and because of some life stressors it has reared its ugly head again. One of the spontaneous thoughts that keeps popping into my head is: what if it isn’t real? What if this fallen world is all there is, and there is no afterlife, no Savior, no Mary. This is very, very troubling to me as I have never had these types of thoughts or doubts about my faith ever, no matter what was going on in my life. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can combat this to obtain peace? Thank you in advance for your help.
I am sorry you are going through this. Here are some resources you might want to take a look at.
“Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” Deuteronomy 3:22
“But now, this is what the Lord says…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:100:
Matthew 6:25-34 Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.
Sorry I cant be more helpful. I’ll keep you in my prayers.
Oh this is very helpful thank you! I look forward to other replies as well. It seems to me that I am in a spiritual battle of sorts, as you kind of allude to. Right before this crisis started, I had a very prayerful 3 days, during which time I went to Daily Mass, said the Rosary daily, went to Confession and then to Eucharistic Adoration. It was a very beautiful little retreat of sorts, even though I was at home, and then BOOM - this started. I don’t think it is a coincidence. St. Michael the Archangel defend us in battle…
Hi, I also have anxiety and panic that pop up from time to time. Here are some things that help me:
- Writings of the saints:
Padre Pio quote:
Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.
St. Teresa of Avila prayer “Nada te turbe” (translated to English):
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
I find Padre Pio and St. Teresa of Avila to be very trustworthy and much holier than me.
Praying the “Come Holy Spirit” prayer whenever I am feeling bad and asking the Spirit to heal and strengthen me and take away my anxiety. I can also make an Act of Spiritual Communion where I just pray and ask Jesus to please come into my heart and heal me.
Praying the Rosary. This is what my parents did for anxiety and stress. You are doing this already. (The Masses you go to are a good practice too.)
Going to Adoration a couple of times a week. I once had anxiety literally lift from me as I was sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
Finally, be aware of the physical stressors that bring these feelings on and what you can do to address them. For example, I know that when I fast, I will become anxious. I fast every Monday so I just remind myself when I start to feel anxious and bad that it is a result of the fasting. It invariably goes away after my fast ends and I eat a meal. Other things that help include taking a nap, drinking some water, sometimes having a cup of coffee or a Coke, eating some high protein food, or sometimes just going to bed and praying that I feel better tomorrow.
If you suspect physical stressors are causing you to have bad thoughts, just remind yourself the thoughts are your mind playing tricks on you because you are physically stressed, and the thoughts are not real.
You might also pray extra to Mary, Joseph, St. Michael, your Guardian Angel, and the Holy Angels, and to any saint that you feel particularly close to, to help you with your anxiety.
Remember that sometimes none of these things bring instant relief.
But if you’ve never had these thoughts in your life and they are just popping up now, I think it’s safe to say that it is just the Devil playing some tricks with your mind. It isn’t real. Just trickery. Your faith is what’s real.
How kind of you to reply - I have tears in my eyes here at work. Thank you so much for your advice. I cannot disagree with you about the holiness of Padre Pio and St. Teresa of Avila. I am printing everyones replies!!
I wouldn’t normally suggest this, bit have you tried fasting? From people I know who have been under spiritual attack they have found it helpful.
If you can’t do that with food, give up something else.
Careful with that. Depending on what’s causing the person’s anxiety, fasting can make it way worse because your blood sugar and metabolism are affected as well as your energy level.
It’s fine if you know how fasting is going to make you feel, but if you don’t know and you just try it expecting to feel better, you can get an awful surprise.
However, if I think that fasting might spike my anxiety, maybe I can sacrifice something else, like the other user suggests. I’d welcome any suggestions!
Thomas A Kempis “The Imitation of Christ” has been helpful to me lately. I am in my late 50’s. Have you seen your doctor about any of your anxiety symptoms?
My two cents…
Anxiety is sometimes triggered in me by a combination of lack of physical care for myself and fear of the future/feeling I lack control. Make sure you are eating well, getting good sleep (melatonin helps), getting some intense physical exercise outside everyday, and sunshine. Perhaps see a doctor and consider taking magnesium, fish oil, bVitamins as needed. Magnesium really helps me. In your mid 50s you are no doubt at or near menopause and many, many women find a change in hormones triggers anxiety. It happened to me.
On the emotional and spiritual level, I have found working on letting go and trusting God really effective. My fear often comes from things I can’t control, like the future. Praying with Jesus’ words, Fear is useless; what is needed is trust, or Without Me you can do nothing helps a lot. I’m also a real believer in the Divine Mercy prayer, Jesus I trust in You said before the image. At times in my life I’ve also prayed the Mary Untier of Knots prayer to great peace—it just dumps everything in Mary’s lap and says, I can’t do it; you fix it!
Hope this helps. I’ve been there and you will get through it.
This might be oversimplified compared to everyone else’s answers, but like you, I combat anxiety. When I was seeking to join the church, doubts and questions constantly plagued me. My pastor offered me the best advice I’ve ever received. Faith can be a choice - we can choose to believe, in spite of the doubts and questions and arguments to the contrary. We can just choose to believe.
This approach appealed to me. I’m not a good “feelings” person, but I’m very influenced by logic, and logic tells me that I lose nothing by choosing to believe. If I’m wrong - the outcome isn’t changed, and I’ve still lived my life knowing that I am loved and cherished by a loving Father. If I’m right - I gain eternity with that Father. The choice seems obvious. I can’t fathom why people would choose not to believe.
Well said, @casslean I, too, am more logic than feelings. I heard someone say that if Satan isn’t bothering you, you’re not too much of a threat. I experienced very real warware the summer before RCIA and during RCIA. I really questioned if I was doing the right thing - yet I knew I was. For me, the bottom line is something like if this all proves to be false, the belief that it is true is what it getting me through life. I have actually yelled, “Get behind me Satan!” I also have anxiety, so I can somewhat understand. Praying for you.
There are no coincidences in life. I got a St. Michael thumb medal two weeks before Easter Vigil. Kept it in my hand to turn off the thoughts in my mind.
Well, this always works for me. Jesus said, “unless you shall become like these little ones (little children) you shall not see heaven, for such as these is the kingdom of God made.” Jesus was citing the wonderfully simple faith of small children.
Whenever I get overwhelmed, occasionally I will look for babies and small children. To see their innocence and trust and faith in mom and dad and a world they cannot conceive of other than made by the God mommy and daddy tell them about, I understand. It sometimes amazes me how few people hold that teaching of Jesus to heart. Listen to little children playing if you can, listen to their squeals of delight in things as simple as soap bubbles, butterflies, and the world that fascinates them as they discover it. That is the faith Jesus says is important; to believe even though you can’t explain it all.
Might sound saccharine, but at least it works for me.
Ooh,I so agree with you joeybaggz…
Last year was especially hard ,with heart break and other ordeals and Jesus gave to me the situation of caring for a little one…what a balm.And every other little child I passed receiving the sweetest smiles .Innocence ,trust and faith in all they do,you see life through their eyes again.
God has sent MUCH evidence to the Catholic church over the centuries that HE is the TRUE GOD.
God has shown that He does give signs to strengthen our faith.
There are medically and scientifically approved miracles in the Catholic Church, and eye witness accounts of apparitions.
Read up on any of the Vatican approved Marian apparitions. Lourdes. Fatima. Knock. Miraculous Medal.
The story of the Divine Mercy image.
Many saints whose lives were filled with inexplicable miracles witnessed by thousands; the most recent of whom is Padre Pio. Read some books about him. He had stigmata, could read souls, prophecy, was beaten by devils at night, God healed through him, he also could see guardian angels.
‘Get us out of Here’ by Niki Eltz (is a book about a woman called Maria Simma who had a charism approved by the Pope, to help the souls in purgatory, who appeared to her for prayers).
‘Struck by Lightning,’ by Gloria Polo, is a book about an aetheist who clinically died after being struck by lightning, saw Heaven, hell, purgatory, their personal judgement, was revived, and became a catholic.
If you look up the canonization process of any saint, two scientific/ medically approved miracles are needed to complete the canonization process.
Go to EWTN’s website and listen to Mother Angelica , especially her story of how God guided the creation of an international Catholic tv show. It was a miracle how it came about.
Read books on the lives of the ‘Early church fathers,’ (these were the people who were friends with the apostles). It proves the Catholic church was founded by jesus and the apostles.
You are being tested or tempted. Most people have these thoughts now and again. God, for His own mysterious reasons allows us to be tested. I imagine it’s a little like when Jesus says at various parts in the Bible that silver (or gold) is to be tried by fire and this is us being tried by these temptations/tests. And at these points the teacher our Lord is usually silent as any teacher is during the test. I would say, as a priest recently said to me, don’t think you are strong remember you are weak and you need God, you need to be more dependent on Him. I think you should stay quiet, keep praying (even if it is hard and seems fruitless) and keep going to mass even if it seems empty or not as fulfilling as before. Remember Jesus said He would never abandon us, if it feels like he has it is only because He is now so close you are blinded by His light, give your eyes time to adjust and trust in Him so He can do His work on your soul, this is why He comes so close. I know it is hard, but keep doing what you were/are doing and wait, patience is the key right now…God’s time is not our time, but He is worth it, believe me. The doubts are from the world, your will or the devil and are just distractions and of no more importance than wondering if people see colours the same as you see colours, give them no more thought and they will just pass away, you can even laugh at them. Trust that God knows best and keep going to mass, reading the bible and praying and He will prevail. You can tell your priest about these in confession if you wish and he’ll reassure you too. God bless you
I didnt focus on the anxiety bit as I didnt see it at first…sorry! I hope the others covered that sufficiently. I will pray for you too.
I cannot thank you all enough for your advice, spiritual and otherwise. God bless you all.
I nearly backed out on Good Friday. I was plagued with doubts, and spent two hours sitting in the church before I realized wherever those doubts were coming from, they weren’t coming from God.
My brother in law, a really, really, good man, died of cancer Monday morning. And Monday afternoon, I saw the cutest little girl all dressed in pink laughing and smiling playing with the flowers in the back yard. Things like that just speak to me that God is saying, everything is all right, I have it all under control." One life heads to glory, another comes to us to teach us what is really important.
Peace to you Greenfields as you go forward.