Peace be with you!
In these final days of waiting in joyful hope for the coming of the Prince of Peace, I sometimes find myself having to fight a rising wave of anxiety as I consider what still needs to be done before the blessed day arrives. Presents to buy, make, and wrap. Menus to plan. Parties to attend. And all of this in addition to the already abundant duties of my vocation as wife, mother, and homeschooler. It is easy to become “worried and troubled” about many things.
Perispato. That’s the Greek word used in the Gospels that is generally translated as “worried and troubled.” That sense of being not only occupied but wrapped up in that occupation in an unbalanced way. In a way that forgets the One Thing that is needed. In a way that forgets that all we do is (or should be) for Him. In a way that pretends that everything depends on us and forgets that without Him we can do nothing worth doing.
How does perispato manifest itself? For me it looks like clumsy little accidents as I rush from one task to another - spills, burns, cuts, bumped elbows. It smells like burned onions as I try to vacuum and make dinner at the same time. It tastes like reheated coffee at 2 pm. It sounds like an edge in my voice or outright shouting as I “help” a child clean his room. It feels like spiders crawling on my skin and tight shoulders as every little task seems irritating and burdensome. It is the opposite of peace.
How do we combat perispato? By turning to the Prince of Peace in prayer.
Catholics have a beautiful tool for prayer in the Rosary. A priest I know and admire has suggested that the Rosary can be used not just to meditate on the official mysteries, but as a tool for meditating on other passages of scripture. Following this suggestion, yesterday I took up my Rosary in an effort to combat the perispato I was feeling. I naturally began with the passage where Jesus calls out Martha for her perispato. By the time I finished my prayer, I had meditated on five scripture passages that remind us that Our Lord is God of all. That we need not be worried and troubled about many things. That He has us in the Palm of His Hand.
Now, if it makes you uncomfortable to change up the Rosary mysteries, or if you’re not a Catholic and are uncomfortable with the Rosary, feel free to meditate on these passages in a way that is comfortable for you. It’s all in the Gospels. Reading scripture is always a good thing.
Martha and Mary
(Only One Thing is needed.)
The Feeding of the Five Thousand
Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, John 6:1-14
(Jesus always provides what I need)
The Wedding at Cana
(even when what I "need" is some wine - a source of joy)
“Cast your nets over the right side of the boat and you will find something.”
(My own efforts won't amount to much without Him, but with Him - look out!)
The Calming of a Storm at Sea
(Jesus is asleep on a cushion. The disciples ask, "Don't you care that we are perishing?" He responds, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have so little faith?" He’s always there, always taking care of me. If He’s not worried about it, why should I be?)
May reflecting on the solicitous care of Our Lord for us bring you peace in the face of perispato in these final days of Advent.
Stay strong, sisters. We are not alone in this walk. We have each other. We have the Saints. And as one of my favorite priests likes to say, we have three divine persons and the mother of one of them on our side.