“Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.” A bishop in North Africa wrote those words 1600 years ago. He was born a pagan and lived like a pagan, living with his girlfriend and partying with friends for the first half of his life. Finally he got tired of the constant drama in his life, and he decided to submit his life to Jesus Christ. He grew up at that point, and history knows him as “St. Augustine.”
“Our hearts are restless, until they rest in thee.” What makes you restless? What do you worry about? Some stress over school—bad grades, or bad friends, or no friends. Some have continual drama with their parents or older siblings. Some worry about the future—what’s going to happen to me in twenty years? Will I have a decent job? Will I be in a miserable marriage like my parents? Will I be a meth addict and an old woman with no teeth by the time I’m forty?
I grew up in the late 60s, when drugs first exploded over America. My older brothers where all on drugs, and I remember crying inconsolably when I was seven years old because I knew I was going to be a drug addict in a few years. But you know what? It never happened. God saved me from drugs, maybe through the horrible experiences of my own brothers. Jesus saved me.
Free of Anxiety
“Brothers, I would like you to be free of anxiety,” writes St. Paul. How can we do that? By “being anxious” about the things of God, he says—keeping our eyes fixed on Christ. Make him your Number One, and you have nothing to fear. And when you do worry (as we all will), call on him. Pray. And your worries will become manageable. You won’t need drugs. You won’t need sex and drama. You won’t even need your iPhone. Your life will be peaceful, ordered, joyful.
So they brought this man to Jesus who was convulsed with an “unclean spirit.” This demon got right in Jesus’ face, shouting at him: “what do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth?!? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are! The Holy one of God!!” Jesus kept his cool—didn’t shout back. He commanded the impure spirit with divine self-composure: “Quiet! Come out of him.” The demon shook the man and screamed, but came out. And all was quiet, all was calm.
If someone is screaming at you, don’t scream back. If someone is causing drama, don’t add your own drama. Respond with quiet strength. You can choose to maintain self-possession. You don’t have to get stressed, because you call upon an Authority that calms anxieties with a simple word. “Quiet.” Jesus speaks with authority, through his Church, through the Scriptures, through you.
Noise and Silence
The devil shouts a constant stream of noise into our face. We need to silence him, in the name of Jesus Christ. I can’t even pump my own gas in peace anymore—a screen and a speaker shouting some ad at me. Why is there so much infantile cussing and shouting and hitting and smashing on TV and movies? Cussing, especially, is demonic language, noisy. It’s what the demon did to Jesus—basically cussed him out. But Jesus spoke calmly to him, with quiet authority. Pope Benedict, for example, just wrote a letter about the need for more thoughtful and respectful silence in our culture.
You and I have that same authority as disciples of Christ. Don’t let anxiety get to you. Get some quiet time each day—our chapel is a splendid place of stillness. Kneel before the authority that moves the sun and the stars. Don’t let the noise of the world shake you up. You are cool, you are self-possessed, you are calm, because you know Jesus Christ, the source of peace and order.