One of the more insidious lies of the devil is the illusion that happiness is about achieving external results. We tend to believe that when we have the right job with the right kind of family, and when all the different pieces of our life are rightly ordered, then we will find the happiness that we seek. Along these lines, such a worldview leads to a constant quest to seek this ideal, and thus we expend most of our energy trying desperately to make reality conform to our desires.

Ultimately, these disordered desires tend to work against us. Instead of having peace, we become filled with anxiety and fear. We tell ourselves that such deep disorders are a sign that we “care,” and we fail to realize the insidious roots of sin that lurk within them. We fail to discover the still point of Christ’s love which continuously invites us to participate in the Divine. Each moment contains within it a call to conversion, a call to total surrender and boundless trust.

The pathway of freedom involves a subtle liberation from the lies of the Devil. The will must be nourished by the sacraments to such an extent that it learns to reject the disordered patterns of thinking, feeling, and desiring which spring from a false quest for happiness. The reality is that true happiness is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and it is received by a heart that seeks God above all things. Such a heart learns to recognize Christ’s infinite love on both the good days and the bad. This love, in turn, gives the heart a wealth of confidence; confidence in the boundless patience and mercy of the Father.

This breeds in us a patient attitude. As we come to know and trust in God’s mercy, we learn to be merciful and gentle both with ourselves and with others. The paradox contained within the disorders of fear and anxiety is that the more we try to deny them and force them away by an act of the will, the stronger they become. Thus, the path of liberation is not in condemnation and control, but rather in surrender and humble acceptance.

With this in mind, we can help facilitate this process of liberation by learning to observe and relate our fears and anxieties to the Lord in meditation. Observation helps us to see how these disorders have deep roots that extend into our memories and are often connected with physical signs of stress. By learning to sift through our interior life in communion with the Holy Spirit, we give an opportunity for the Spirit to awaken in us connections that can help bring healing.

This then leads to us to relate our discoveries to the Lord with complete trust. We learn to hear him speak his words of comfort and consolation, always calling us to greater faith, hope, and love. Likewise, we let the scripture stir our hearts so that we can call to mind God’s steadfast love for us, not as an abstract idea, but in as a personal and unrepeatable way given to each of us. Today, let us make time for this important work of intimacy with God.