Jesus Carrying the Cross, Schwerin Cathedral, Germany

Transcription of Sermon 

A Reading from the Holy Gospel According to John. 

Jesus said to His disciples. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.”

Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The Saving Words of the Gospel.

Do not let your hearts be troubled.

In the Name of the Father, of the Son, the Holy Ghost, Amen.


Our Lord knows us as well. And these words He says just before He goes to His Passion, and He’s the one who’s comforting His disciples, counseling them not to be troubled, when He’s the one who’s going to go through all of this pain and suffering. Sorrow or anxiety are incompatible. Anxiety is incompatible with trust in Christ.

Where does our anxiety come from? We have a couple of sources, but whatever the nature of our anxiety, it’s incompatible with trust in Christ because it’s a disorder. And it’s a disorder that comes from either a disordered fear of something that might befall me or a disordered desire to possess something, or that something happen. In other words, it’s a lack of trust because of fear, or it’s a disordered attachment to my own desires. These things are natural. We have a fallen nature, and so, we have all experienced anxieties of every sort.

But Francis de Sales says that, quoting him, “With the single exception of sin, anxiety is the greatest evil that can happen to a soul.” It helps if we can unmask the cause, call things by their name. He goes on to say, “If our heart is inwardly troubled and disturbed, it loses both the strength necessary to maintain the virtues that had acquired and the means to resist temptations of the enemy.” So, if the worst thing that can happen to us is we commit a sin, the second worst is anxiety, because he’s saying that it sets us up for sin, whether it’s my disordered attachments or my lack of trust in our Lord. 

So how do we overcome this? Well, obviously, we have to be in a state of grace. If we’re not in a state of grace, we’ve got bigger problems than evils that may befall us or disordered attachments. So, we, number one, we have to be in a state of grace. We also ought to unmask the source of the anxiety; call it by its name. When we do that, we start to see it for what it is and it’s not some behemoth something that is going to just overcome me, or we call it by its name and we see it in the context of Christ. And then, Christ then has the solution for it. Doesn’t mean that everything’s going to go well in my life. It doesn’t mean that everything will suddenly be easy; that Christ makes the path smooth for me. Christ doesn’t make that promise, but He does promise us the grace to carry our crosses. The nature of our crosses is we don’t like them. And that’s okay. But, when we bear our crosses with trust in our Lord, all of a sudden, those crosses rather than being an onerous burden, they become a path itself to holiness. 

Today is the first Friday, a day of the Sacred Heart. And Christ, I won’t read all of His promises, but Christ, amongst the 12 Promises, says for those who do the Nine First Fridays of the Sacred Heart, He says, “I will console you in all your troubles.” And so, what happens when we do the Nine First Fridays? Our Lord has made many promises, these 12 promises, and He keeps them all. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; He can’t lie. And so, we enter into a certain covenant, a bond with Him, which, then, is part of the way to address anxieties. 

St. Francis de Sales goes on to say that to regain peace of soul, obviously, he’s taking for granted that we’re in a state of grace, he says we should number one, ask for God’s help. Number two, resolve to do nothing that your desire insists on until your mind has regained peace unless it is something that cannot be put off. Number three, you must meekly and calmly try to check the current of your desires, which is best done by accepting them as they are. And number four, if you can reveal the cause of your anxiety to your spiritual director, or at least to some confessor, or devout friend, you can be sure that you will speedily find relief. 

And so, he’s also speaking about unmasking them. And when we do that, when we unmask life’s troubles, we call them by their name, we start to see their limitations. And as we start to see how limited they are, we understand that they are not all-consuming.

Anxiety demands totality. Faith, hope, and charity demand totality. We can’t be consumed by two totalities that are at odds with each other. We have to make a choice. So, even our anxieties, our difficulties, the troubled heart that our Lord mentions in this Last Supper Discourse, those become opportunities for us to renew our trust in Him. When we start to experience it, we should see that as something of a trigger that turns us back to Him so that we can tell Him, “Jesus I trust in You.”

In the Name of the Father, of the Son, the Holy Ghost, Amen.

— Fr. Ermatinger