The Problem of Tomorrow
Do you worry about tomorrow? Do you wonder of how you will find the time, money, or resources to do what needs to be done? St. Francis and his Friars solved the problem of tomorrow. They let God worry about it.
This was nothing new. They were simply following Jesus’ injunction. Consider this passage from the Gospel of Saint Matthew:
Therefore I say unto you, be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment?
Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value then they?
And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? And why are ye anxious concerning raiment?
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6: 25-34)
As laypeople, we may object that we cannot be as carefree as the Friars. After all, they had no families to support, mortgages to pay, or job obligations to meet. They were free to come and go as they wished, to find work to do and be paid in food, and to beg from door to door if they needed anything. If we lived like that in modern society, we would be either arrested or taken off the street and placed in a shelter.
Jesus’ words were not directed to Franciscan Friars. They were directed to everyone. Francis and his followers took these words literally and followed them, and it worked! But what are we, as laypeople, to do?
Jesus has the answer. He says in this passage, “do not worry about tomorrow.” In other parables, He talks about using our talents wisely, and He praises the steward who, even though he used unjust means, was prudent in looking out for his welfare. '
Who better than God knows what we need to stay alive?
Who better than God knows what we need to serve Him best and to tell others about Him? If we believe in God’s all-knowing wisdom, if we believe that His wisdom far exceeds ours, then the logical consequence is to let Him worry about our lives and take care of us.
There are three popular prayer devotions which deal with letting God take over. One is the Novena to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, in which the person praying the Novena asks the Mother of Jesus to untangle the difficulties of life and to provide the direction to follow. Pope Francis has promoted this Novena as it is one of his favorites. This Novena has received the Imprimtur.
Another devotion which has also received the Imprimatur is the Rosary of Abandonment (Gesù pensaci tu), a prayer of Father Dolindo Ruotolo, an Italian priest. This Rosary (actually a chaplet) implores Jesus to take charge of one’s life.
Father Ruotolo writes, as if Jesus were speaking, “Shut your eyes and say with all your soul: Jesus, You take over. Don’t be afraid, I indeed will take care of you, and you shall bless My Name, in humility. A thousand prayers do not equal only one act of abandonment; don’t ever forget it. There is no better novena than this: Oh Jesus I abandon myself to You, Jesus, You take over.”
The Rosary of Abandonment may be prayed on any Rosary. Here are the prayers:
God come to my assistance. Lord make haste to help me.
Jesus, You take over! (10 times on the beads of the Hail Mary)
Mother Mary, guide me (10 times on the beads of the Hail Mary).
Jesus you take over! (10 times on the beads of the Hail Mary).
Mother Mary, guide me. (10 times on the beads of the Hail Mary).
Jesus, you take over! (10 times on the beads of the Hail Mary).
Hail Holy Queen
Father Rutolo has also written a Novena of Abandonment to Jesus, asking Him to take over because we can't.
St. Francis, who put all his trust in Jesus, and who venerated with great love the Mother of Christ, would have praised all three of these devotions. To the Blessed mother he wrote this salutation:
Hail, holy Lady, most holy Queen, Mother of God, Mary who art ever Virgin, chosen from Heaven by the most Holy Father, whom He has consecrated with the most holy beloved Son and the Ghostly Paraclete, in whom was and is all the fulness of grace and all good. Hail thou His palace! Hail thou His tabernacle! Hail thou His house. Hail thou His garment! Hail thou His handmaid! Hail thou His Mother and all ye holy virtues which by the grace and illumination of the Holy Ghost thou infusest in the heart of the faithful, that from infidels ye mayest make them faithful to God.
In the Letter to All the Faithful, he wrote:
And since He has suffered so many things for us and has done and will do so much good to us, let every creature which is in heaven and on earth and in the sea and in the abysses render praise to God and glory and honor and benediction; for He is our strength and power who alone is good, alone most high, alone almighty and admirable, glorious and alone holy, praiseworthy and blessed without end forever and ever. Amen.
As laypeople in the Confraternity of Penitents, we can be prudent in preparing for tomorrow. However, worry robs us of our joy in the present and achieves nothing positive. Try giving your worries to Jesus and his Blessed Mother and then go about your day in prayerful service to God and to others. An unknown author quipped, “For peace of mind, resign as general manager of the universe.” Only when you follow this advice and lift worry from your spirit will you realize how heavy was its burden.
--Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP