When Overcome by Fear, Take Pope Francis’ Advice
The Holy Father tells us that when our heart is overrun by fear, discernment is necessary. In order to overcome our fears, the first step to take is to recognize those fears:
“The first step in overcoming fears is to identify them clearly, so as not to find yourself wasting time and energy by being gripped by empty and faceless ghosts. And so, I invite all of you to look within yourselves and to “name” your fears.”
The three key questions are:
- What do I fear most in this specific moment of my life today?
- What blocks me and prevents me from moving forward?
- Why do I lack the courage to make the important choices I need to make?
Facing your fears:
The next step would be to see your fears honestly, to acknowledge them the way they really are. We are prone to exaggerations, sometimes to disastrous degrees. Pope Francis then adds a very consoling observation:
“The Bible does not ignore the human experience of fear nor its many causes. Abraham was afraid (cf. Gen 12:10ff), Jacob was afraid (cf. Gen 31:31; 32:7), and so were Moses (cf. Ex 2:14; 17:4), Peter (cf. Mt 26:69ff) and the Apostles (cf. Mk 4:38-40; Mt26:56). Jesus himself, although in an incomparable way, experienced fear and anguish” (cf. Mt 26:37; Lk 22:44).
An obstacle to faith; overcoming fear
Fear can present an occasion of test for us, so much so that even our very faith in God is affected. So, the Pope believes that such occasions should be turned into acts of faith in God rather than making us doubt. We must believe in the fundamental goodness of God and trust that he will bring us to a good end at last. Who knows what’s good for their children better than a loving Father?
‘Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Jesus had asked his disciples, for he knew that the obstacle to faith is not skepticism but rather fear.
So, we have to be active, never let fear take control. The Pope tells us that ‘often the obstacle to a greater faith in God is actually fear’.
Fear is a hindrance to our faith and that is why we must fight against it.
Pope Francis brings to focus this phrase in the Bible “do not be afraid,” which is written 365 times. It is almost like the Lord is telling us to fight against fear every single day.