New Prayer Journal for Catholic Women to Overcome Anxiety, Stress, and Fear

Worried about the pandemic? Quarantined and need help shifting your focus away from all your worries? Or just want to do something productive and healthy?

Check out the new Prayer Journal for Catholic Women that my wife and I published together. It is a 52-week (or day) devotional for overcoming worry and stress and conquering fear:

The title comes from Padre Pio’s famous quote, but it was another holy person that inspired this book. It was Chiara Corbello Petrillo, surely one of the Church’s upcoming saints, who gave us the idea to create this prayer journal.

It started with my wife reading Chiara Corbello Petrillo, A Witness to Joy. She shared the book with all her sisters and girlfriends, and it spread like wildfire.

I didn't realize there were so many women suffering from anxiety, often crippling anxiety. It may even be a silent pandemic.

It's frustrating for husbands, too. It's another one of those things we can't fix. We can be understanding - which isn't especially easy for us. We can make sure our wives get time enough recuperation time with their girlfriends and date nights with us. But, honestly, that's just a start.   

So, my wife and I made this prayer journal. If you are overcome with anxiety, we hope and pray you will find God in these pages, and He will give you comfort.

We also made a version for our sisters in Christ who are not (yet) Catholic :)

Here is a look inside the prayer journal. In that blank space under "Reflect", you will find a new Saint quote or Bible verse to "ponder in your heart" each week (or day):

There are several different ways to use this prayer journal. Though the journal is designed for 52 weeks of guided prayer, it could also be used for 52 days. Just use each weekly section as a day section, instead. This could also be a resource for Lent if you just use it for 6 weeks or 40 days. We hope this journal will adapt itself to your needs.

Each of the 52 weeks (or days, if you prefer) includes a seven-step prayer sequence modeled after the Examen prayer of St. Ignatius. The seven steps are (1) Breathe, (2) Become aware of God’s presence, (3) Thanksgiving, (4) Reflect, (5) Examination, (6) Contrition, and (7) Hope.

Here is a more in-depth look at the purpose and significance of these steps:

  1. The first step, Breathe, guides you through a breathing exercise that you can also use whenever you feel stressed, especially when you first begin to feel stressed. This breathing exercise can help you ward off a panic attack.
  2. Take time to become aware of God’s presence. Remember that He is closer to you than you are to yourself. He is with you right now, in the now. Let your soul come to rest, for as St. Augustine says, “Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in You.”
  3. Thanksgiving: A key to overcoming anxiety is re-orienting yourself to gratitude. That is, focusing less on your fears and more on God’s gifts to you. Lord, I realize that all, even myself, is a gift from you. Today, for what things am I most grateful?
  4. Reflect on the provided quote from the Saints or verse from Scripture. We chose these quotes and verses specifically to help you overcome anxiety. What words stand out to you? What comes into your mind as you reflect on the words? This is the meditative practice of lectio divina. Sit with these passages for five minutes or more each day through the week. Plant them in your mind, water them daily with reflection, and let them take root. 
  5. Ask the Lord to guide you through your day and week. Jesus will take you by the hand to Examine the moments and experiences of your life. Wait and see what bubbles up in your memories. What is Jesus trying to reveal to you? Jesus might be saying “I was there in that moment” but you did not see me, feel me, or hear me. Over time, this exercise will help you to know that Jesus never leaves your side and to sense him always there.
  6. Contrition: Big or small, where, when, and how did sin creep into your day? Learning when you are tempted will help you remake your sin habits into virtues. 
  7. Learn to prayerfully anticipate the future in Hope. So much of our anxiety comes from unwarranted fear of the future. We dread events that may never come to pass. This exercise will help you shift your focus toward the good that is coming. The ultimate goal is to see God’s presence in all things.   

A Weekly Prayer is also included. We chose prayers that are focused on overcoming anxiety through gratitude, healing, empowering, and surrendering.

Lastly, each week (or day) also includes a page of Prayer Goals. The goals include a section to list your Prayer Intentions, a Goals Checklist, and a place to list your weekly Acts of Love and Sacrifice:

  • Prayer Intentions: This is an opportunity to give your worries away to God. Imagine taking these intentions from your heart and placing them in Jesus’ outstretched hands. Prayer especially for those people who stress you or have hurt you or a loved one. This is an amazing way to sever the chains that bind you to hurt. 
  • Goals Checklist: We provide some helpful prayer and sacramental practices to help you grow in the practice of the Catholic faith. 
  • Small Things with Great Love: Here is a place to list the times that you did a small act for another person with great love. When you do the dishes when it’s not really your responsibility, when you apologize when it’s not your fault, when you forgive the rude person at the grocery store – write it down here. 

Lastly, be assured of our prayers for you, and maybe one day we will meet in Heaven ... where there’s no such thing as fear and anxiety.

Totus tuus!

Scott & Ashton Smith

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