Opening Prayer & Reading for Sacred Heart Major Seminary Theology Faculty Meeting (April 12, 2016)
May 3, 2016
Dr. Mark S. Latkovic
As we approach the end of the term, many of us (along with our students) experience the stress of giving exams and correcting papers, of attending meetings and graduation events, and of honoring many other commitments. I know I feel anxious and under stress! … We can see the finish line in the distance, but we still have a ways to go. There seems to be so much more to do, and so little time to do it … The following is a passage from St. Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life on anxiety that I will read. We will then say together the short prayer I composed to ask the Lord to ease our anxiety and enable us to “not sweat the small stuff” – i.e., to help us keep our wits about us and keep our priorities in order.
St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, chapter X
We must attend to the Business of Life carefully, but without Eagerness or Over-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.
Therefore, my daughter, be careful and diligent in all your affairs; God, Who commits them to you, wills you to give them your best attention; but strive not to be anxious and solicitous, that is to say, do not set about your work with restlessness and excitement, and do not give way to bustle and eagerness in what you do;—every form of excitement affects both judgment and reason, and hinders a right performance of the very thing which excites us.
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… No work done with impetuosity and excitement was ever well done, and the old proverb, “Make haste slowly,” is a good one, Solomon says, “There is one that laboureth and taketh pains, and maketh haste, and is so much the more behind;” we are always soon enough when we do well… Accept the duties which come upon you quietly, and try to fulfil 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.
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 in quiet co-operation 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.
… When your ordinary work or business is not specially engrossing, let your heart be fixed more on God than on it; and if the work be such as to require your undivided attention, then pause from time to time and look to God, even as navigators who make for the haven they would attain, by looking up at the heavens rather than down upon the deeps on which they sail. So doing, God will work with you, in you, and for you, and your work will be blessed.
A Prayer for Overcoming Anxiety
Lord, we ask You to calm our anxious hearts and minds
As we see the sun set on another academic year
Remind us every day of Your love and providential care for us
Do not let our worries or weariness distract us from the tasks at hand
Strengthen our patience, perseverance, and purity of heart
That we might continually focus on the good of our students
And thus be faithful servants of the Mission of Sacred Heart Major Seminary
Enable all our desires and deeds to conform to Your virtues
So that we can be Your model disciples for all who cross our paths
Keep ever before our eyes the chief reason why we teach:
To share You and Your Good News in the classroom and in the culture
Give us joyful hearts as we go about the work of seminary formation
Remembering all that You have done for us with a grateful spirit
Continue to bless us, as well as our families and friends, our students and staff
Lord, we know we can do nothing without You (Jn 15:5)
But with the grace of the Holy Spirit we can carry out Your will for us