“Don’t let the demons of yesterday ruin the blessings of today,” an exorcist once told me during an interview. Exorcists understand how the devil invades lives and steals away peace and holiness. They also know that the people they help have a past they would like to forget and a future that might loom large and intimidating before them.
Simply wanting peace is no guarantee we will not walk around like a ball of regret, stress, and worry. Finding it is the challenge. Since I hate stress and am also the mother of 10 children, I do my best to eliminate it from my life. At this point, the youngest is going to be a senior in high school and we now have nine grandchildren. So I know stress, whether it’s regrets, worry, or just a lot of commotion. Occasionally, I do have those middle-of-the-night worry sessions, but for the most part, I work hard at eliminating stress. Here is how:
Graces to Release the Past
Go to Confession to settle up with God and restore friendship with him. You are sorry and God is merciful — a match made in heaven.
Only God can forgive sin. In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins, the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church. … “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven,” (CCC 1444).
Everyone has regrets. For help to let go of any resistant guilt, consider that the ex-satanic priest Bartolos Longo, converted, lived a holy life, and was beatified in 1980. No one’s sins are bigger than God’s mercy.
When something is off kilter in my life, it’s usually my faith. Sitting before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament balances everything. God fills me up and drives away negative emotions. I simply need to come before Him.
Servant of God Father Dolindo Ruotolo died in Naples, Italy, at the age of 88 on November 19, 1970. During his life, he was known for his holiness. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina once said to a group of pilgrims from Naples: “Why do you come here, if you have Don Dolindo in Naples? Go to him, he’s a saint!”
His biographer Luca Sorrentino called him “a faithful servant who wanted to be the nothing of all nothings in God, and the everything of God in men.” I have become a big devotee of his Surrender Novena, in which we come to God as children and trust in Him to take care of us. At the end of each of the nine days, we pray 10 times: “O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything!”
The Right Friends
Seek out friendships that lead you to peace and holiness. Healthy friends offer support and prayer. Stay away from drama queens and Negative Nancys, or you end up feeling more stressed in the end.
Read Good Books
Some find it helpful to stay away from angry books or romance novels. Negativity or romantic fantasies may seem to offer escape, but they can distort reality, making it harder to cope and leading you astray.
Good books offer support and inspiration that move hearts and minds. The lives of the saints are always inspiring. Another favorite, Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence: The Secret of Peace and Joy by Rev. Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure, S.J. and St. Claude de la Colombiere, S.J., offers a way to attain serenity. It answers questions that many Christians have regarding God’s will, the existence of evil, and the practice of trustful surrender.
Anything by Gary Zimak. He’s a “takes one to know one” sort of guy with a past riddled with worry. He is now a professional at overcoming it.
A new book that quickly became one of my all-time favorites is 10 Promises of Jesus: Stories and Scriptural Reflections on Suffering and Joy. Marge Fenelon uses the very words of Jesus, to show us that we can let go and let God. Each chapter has dramatic stories that demonstrate how that looks.
“Jesus assures us that we are more precious to him than the birds or the flowers, or the grass. He tells us not to worry about what we will eat or drink or what we will wear,” Marge explained. “He doesn’t want us to worry; he wants us to trust him. … Spiritually speaking, anxiety becomes an obstacle to our deepening relationship with God.”
Marge pointed out, “How can you deepen your relationship with someone you don’t trust?” … That is why God wants us to live in the here and now and to trust in him to provide all that we need.”
Copyright 2019 Patti Maguire Armstrong