“Do not be afraid.” (Luke 12:17) We sing these words so often; I probably know them by heart:
If you pass through raging waters, In the sea, you shall not drown. If you walk amidst the burning flames, You shall not be harmed. If you stand before the pow’r of hell And death is at your side,Know that I am with you, through it all.
Be not afraid. I go before you always. Come follow me, And I will give you rest.
—Text & Tune © 1975 Robert J. Dufford, SJ and New Dawn Music
“Be not afraid.” What do these words mean in our daily lives? I was particularly struck recently by the faith of James Foley, Marquette ‘96, who was beheaded by ISIS members earlier this year. Foley’s words spoken when he was held prisoner several years ago in Libya resound in my memory: “Myself and two colleagues had been captured and were being held in a military detention center in Tripoli. Each day brought increasing worry that our moms would begin to panic.
“I began to pray the rosary. It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed. I said 10 Hail Marys between each Our Father. It took a long time, almost an hour to count 100 Hail Marys off on my knuckles. And it helped to keep my mind focused.” What a testament to Foley’s faith in Christ, and how prayer, especially the rosary joined him with those praying for his release.
What fears do I face each day? How can my faith in Christ and prayers to His mother help me allay my fears, as they helped James Foley?
―George Penman Sullivan, Jr. is a Jesuit-educated lay leader who helped found Chicago’s Ignatian Volunteer Corps. He and his wife, Dorothy, live in Wilmette IL, and have four children and three grandchildren.