Triumph of Fear?


A very real fight today is against fear. Why? Fears make us do nothing.
For example a fear of death and terrorism caused many to question whether traveling to World Youth Day in Poland this past week was a smart idea. (Speaking for myself—going to World Youth Day last week was one of the best things I ever did.) You could say the fear was legitimate—we were in Munich during the shooting there and had a bomb scare outside our hostel two days later.

However, we talked about it before we boarded our transAtlantic flight, on the bus, and with other pilgrims in Kraków. The whole point of fear is to get people to do nothing. What is more powerful than 2 million people gathered together with Pope Francis unafraid to celebrate their Faith in Jesus Christ and an apostolate building a world of hope and mercy? We—gathered in John Paul II’s homeland of Poland—had the privilege of being that proof. Had each of us youth been afraid, the world would have thought the Church was dying.

Fear is the enemy of action.

That thought struck me in a new way while doing homework at my friend’s apartment the other week when I saw this prayer posted on their fridge.

A Litany to Overcome Fear

From the fear of suffering, deliver me, Lord.
From the fear of pain, deliver me, Lord.
From the fear of failure, deliver me, Lord.
From the fear of inferiority,
From the fear of abandonment,
From the fear of things that are new,
From the fear of losing loved ones,
From the fear of violence,
From the fear of not being able to cope,
From the fear of being myself,
From the fear of loss of health,
From the fear of growing old,
From the fear of bodily harm,
From the fear of disasters,
From the fear of being alone,
From the fear of not being liked,
From the fear of betrayal,
From the fear of being laughed at,
From the fear of disgrace,
From the fear of loneliness,
From the fear of being used,
From the fear of rejection,
From the fear of the future,
From the fear of embarrassment,
From the fear of shame,
From the fear of being inadequate,
From the fear of ridicule,
From the fear of change,
From the fear of humiliation,
From the fear of facing my secret sins,
From the fear of judgment by others,
From the fear of darkness,
From the fear of silence,
From the fear of being poor,
From the fear of financial security,
From the fear of criticism,
From the fear of not being loved,
From the fear of isolation,
From the fear of powerlessness,
From the irrational fear of punishment,
From the fear of what others think of me,
From the fear aroused by things in the past,
From the fear of terrorism,
From the fear of the unknown,
From the fear of witnessing to my faith,
From the fear of being forsaken,
From the fear of death,
From all fears that enslave,
From all phobias,
From the fear of not doing God’s will,
Our Father, etc.

Every single one of these fears has an outcome in common. Every single one of these fears has a main “solution” for coping—doing nothing. Why is this so dangerous? “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” said Edmund Burke. We have seen it time and again in enormous ways through the genocides and wars and terrorist acts of our century. We see it time and again in more habitual ways in the corners of our everyday lives.

Twenty-five years ago, John Paul the Second was not afraid to return to Communist Poland and bring hope to the people there. As they chanted, “We want God, we want God,” leading minds of the day realized they had just witnessed the death of communism in Eastern Europe. Twenty-five years later last week once more at World Youth Day in Poland, another gathering of millions of youth showed that we still want God and that no fear can stand in our way.

Read the litany of fears again. How many of these fears have crept into your life in little ways? Which ones do you face every day? Which top ones control what you do in every decision? Pick one. Entrust it to God this week and choose a small action each day that helps you combat this fear. When you have mastered it, choose another one. One action at a time we will eradicate our paralysis and illuminate hope in the dark fears around us.


(Photo courtesy of Hannah Dorss on my iPhone at Campus Misericordiae Vigil, World Youth Day Kraków 2016 😀)


One thought on “Triumph of Fear?”

  1. Maria, thank you for the challenge to turn fears into trust in Jesus. There are many to practice! While you were in Europe, I was praying for safety. Thanking God for your life-giving trip….


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