Saturday was a busy day–errands in the morning, dance class from 1 to 2:30, a quick stop at home to change clothes, then off to church to practice with the cantor and accompany for Mass, followed immediately by opening night of a production at the local community theater, in which I was acting. I enjoy doing all of those things. However, playing organ at church and acting on stage do cause a certain level of stress that was only amplified by the day’s hectic schedule. By the time Mass began, I was starting to get a headache and my hands were shaking (which makes it difficult to play the organ).
The second reading during Mass was a familiar one from the fourth chapter of the letter to the Philippians. It began:
“Brothers and sisters: Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Fr. O’Connor reflected on this reading during his homily. He talked about how it may seem silly for Paul to tell us, “Don’t be anxious.” Anxiety is a feeling, and we can’t just turn those on and off. I agreed. I was feeling very anxious, and could not find a way to get rid of the feeling.
Fr. O’Connor pointed out that Paul didn’t stop there–he continued by telling us how to extinguish anxiety: PRAY. I remembered then, that in the stress and busy-ness of the day, I had forgotten the prayer that I normally pray before accompanying at Mass. I immediately offered up a prayer that God would help me relax, guide my fingers, and enable me to effectively praise him through music and inspire others to do the same. As Paul promised, my anxiety was replaced by peace. I don’t know why we forget the simple things–like prayer–when we most need them. I am grateful for the people in my life who remind me when I forget.
The passage from Phillipians goes on to say:
“Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.”
I keep this poster near my television. It reminds me to think about what I spend my time doing, watching, and listening to.