What the angels can teach us about anxiety

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The angels show us how to attend to our daily duties with proper care, without giving way to restlessness and anxiety.

For many of us, it’s relatively easy to be “anxious about many things,” even though Jesus urges us not to (cf his time with Martha and Mary). We have countless daily responsibilities, and when world events make life even more stressful, it’s difficult not to be anxious.

However, God repeatedly challenges characters in the Bible not to be anxious or afraid. Living in a state of anxiety is not physically or spiritually healthy, and is a problem we need to address.

St. Francis de Sales provides an interesting reflection about this in his Introduction to the Devout Life. He points first to the angels for inspiration and shows how they attend to their daily duties with care and diligence, but without any anxiety.

The care and diligence due to our ordinary business are very different from solicitude, anxiety and restlessness. The Angels care for our salvation and seek it diligently, but they are wholly free from anxiety and solicitude, for, whereas care and diligence naturally appertain to their love, anxiety would be wholly inconsistent with their happiness; for although care and diligence can go hand in hand with calmness and peace, those angelic properties could not unite with solicitude or anxiety, much less with over-eagerness.

This is one of the reasons why Jesus rebuked Martha, for she was giving way to anxiety in our duties.

Our Lord, rebuking Martha, said, “Thou art careful and troubled about many things.” If she had been simply careful, she would not have been troubled, but giving way to disquiet and anxiety, she grew eager and troubled, and for that our Lord reproved her.

The key for St. Francis de Sales is first to attend to your duties one at a time, without overwhelming yourself.

Accept the duties which come upon you quietly, and try to fulfill them methodically, one after another. If you attempt to do everything at once, or with confusion, you will only cumber yourself with your own exertions, and by dint of perplexing your mind you will probably be overwhelmed and accomplish nothing.

Furthermore, it’s important to trust in God’s providence, which is one of the reasons why the angels are free from such anxiety.

In all your affairs lean solely on God’s Providence, by means of which alone your plans can succeed. Meanwhile, on your part work on quiet cooperation with Him, and then rest satisfied that if you have trusted entirely to Him you will always obtain such a measure of success as is most profitable for you, whether it seems so or not to your own individual judgment.

There are many factors that go into overcoming anxiety, but we can at least start by looking to the angels and saints for inspiration.

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