The following article is condensed from Angèle Regnier’s homily at the 2023 Lift Jesus Higher Rally in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. You can listen to it here. The article originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ July 2023 newsletter.
In 2018, my archbishop encouraged me to organize a pilgrimage that brought the relic arm of St. Francis Xavier to Canada. Seventy-eight thousand people came to see the relic of the patron saint of missions as it traveled across Canada. In the Greater Toronto area alone, 24,000 people came over three days. We didn’t just bring a museum article for people to admire. We wanted to proclaim the Gospel. I said to the attendees, “Venerate St. Francis Xavier, but he wants you to know Jesus. That’s why he went to the ends of the earth. That’s why this arm baptized hundreds of thousands of people.”
We saw conversions, healings, and missionary zeal enlivened in the people. It was an amazing, glorious, anointed time for Canada just before Covid hit.
Today, I want to share what was happening in my own life before and during the pilgrimage.
That pilgrimage was wonder, awe, and fear. I’d never done anything like that before. In a brief amount of time, I pulled together logistics for about forty venues in seventeen cities across Canada in a month. I needed permissions from Italy, the Vatican, and Canada. I needed insurance and a plane seat for the arm. I needed a plan for getting through security. What if customs didn’t allow us to bring a dead man’s body into the country? It’s funny, but my interior life was fear.
Then, my archbishop decided I should also go on the pilgrimage and be the main spokesperson. When I received my media training, they said that reporters might use the pilgrimage as a reason to ask me about anything happening in the Catholic Church. I felt like a lamb being led to the slaughter. I also was afraid that we would break the incorrupt arm of the saint. Can you imagine? I sat in the archbishop’s office crying, and he spoke these words: “Faith over fear.”
Scripture was the only thing that consoled me during that time. Zechariah 8:20-23 talks about the multitudes that would gather, and elsewhere, Scripture described angels surrounding and protecting the Lord of hosts. Two of my fears were that people wouldn’t come and security issues, and the Lord said there would be a lot of people and a lot of angels.
I almost began laughing at the daily readings. Did you know many verses talk about the right arm and the right hand? It was a playful wink from the Lord every time. The Lord also encouraged me about media in Zephaniah 3:11, which says you will not be put to shame. I did 250 interviews, with a reach of 84 million people, and nothing bad was said about the Church.
As you deal with your own fears, know that the living and active sword is there for you! The Lord will give you a Scripture verse for your situation. It’s the living Word of God. It’s always speaking, and there are always new treasures to be found.
The enemy likes it when we are afraid. But the Lord loves the weak, the small, the old, the frail, and the young. Mary appears to children. God chose Sarah and Abraham. Moses had a speech impediment. Jeremiah was young. Jesus was a baby. When Jesus felt weak, He pulled out his sword—He quoted Scripture. Even a weak, small person can quote Scripture. I’m not that clever or eloquent, but I can read the Bible, the living Word of God, which penetrates bone and marrow.
Scripture as a sword doesn’t have to always be like, “Boom!” It is the Word of God, and his voice is love. “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 Jn 4:18). If all that happens in your prayer time is that Jesus loves you, isn’t that the point of the Christian life? Isn’t that what takes away some of the zing when fearful things come? So, let’s not be weak in Scripture. Let’s love it and read it. Let’s allow the Lord to love us in it so that we can conquer fear.