In his book The Church of Mercy, Pope Francis writes, “How many difficulties are present in the life of every individual, among our people, in our communities; yet as great as these may seem, God never allows us to be overwhelmed by them.”
I love Pope Francis, but I must respectfully disagree with that statement. I think I speak for many people, including myself, when I say I feel overwhelmed all the time, especially in these long days of pandemic and local and global craziness and uncertainty. Now, to be fair, Pope Francis does go on to write that God never abandons us, and while true, it can feel like we’re all alone sometimes. What to do?
Well, what would you do if you found yourself stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire and no jack in the car? What if your child had a raging fever or a complete stranger shows up at your front door, drunk and looking like he’s going to pass out? Call for help, right? Call a tow truck, call a doctor, call a cop.
And maybe call on the saints, too.
What follows is a small first-aid kit of a few prayers that I’ve used over the years whenever I’ve been in a precarious situation, feeling depressed or overwhelmed, or in need of spiritual assistance. Think of the saints as our soul’s personal EMTs. Since they’ve also lived through difficult times, they can help us in a unique way when we are experiencing an emergency or crisis of faith.
Our prayers should ultimately be directed to God, as the saints know. So even though these holy ones can serve as advocates and friends—bringing knowledge and assistance to our time of need—keep the Almighty in the forefront of your mind. And speak—pray—from the heart. Our heavenly helpers would want us to do that too.
Prayer of St. Francis de Sales for Inner Peace
(This is one of my favorite prayers. Whenever fear has a grip on me, or I’m experiencing self-doubt, or whenever I’m in trouble, this prayer brings great comfort.)
Be not afraid. Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life in fear; instead, look to them in full hope that, as they arise, God, whose you are, will deliver you out of them. He has kept you until now, so hold fast to his dear hand, and he will lead you safely through all things, and when you cannot stand, he will bear you safely in his arms.
Prayer of St. Teresa of Ávila for Comfort During Stressful Times
(This is another prayer that has helped whenever I’ve felt like the world is too big for me.)
Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything. Whoever has God lacks nothing. God alone suffices.
Prayer of St. Alphonsus Liguori for Those Suffering from Insomnia
Jesus Christ, my God, I adore you and thank you for all the graces you have given me this day. I offer you my sleep and all the moments of this night, and I ask you to keep me from sin. I put myself within your sacred side and under the mantle of Our Lady. Let your holy angels stand about me and keep me in peace. And let your blessing be upon me. Amen.
Suscipe Prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola
(This is also known as the “Take, Lord, Receive” prayer.)
Prayer to St. John Bosco for Any Need Including Dealing with Addiction, Assistance for a Sick Parent, Direction for a Troubled Child, or Times of Struggle at Work
In need of special help, I appeal with confidence to you, O St. John Bosco, for I require not only spiritual graces but also temporal ones, and particularly [the grace you seek]. May you, who on earth had such great devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and to Mary, Help of Christians, and who always had compassion for those who were in suffering, obtain from Jesus and from his heavenly Mother the grace I now request, and also a sincere resignation to the will of God.