Lenten Reflection Series: Do Not Be Afraid

Throughout the season of Lent, we’re featuring the Millennial Lenten Reflection Series, co-sponsored by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Franciscan Mission Service. Each small reflection will be written by a young person, focusing on that day’s Mass reading. You can sign up for the series here.

Fear is an emotion I know well.

I feel afraid daily living as a Franciscan lay missioner here in Cochabamba, Bolivia. I am afraid of being known as imperfect. I am afraid of being vulnerable. I am afraid of being humiliated.

Because it is difficult to live in a foreign culture, to speak a second language, and to move far away from everyone I know and everyone who knows me.

In today’s Gospel, we hear that ever-so-important reminder from the angel Gabriel to Mary, “Do not be afraid.”

And when I hear those words, they encourage me in my own journey.

I know I am afraid but I also know the grace of consolation, the mystery of the spirit moving within me and those around me, and the beauty of the way we can open up to one another and connect when we are at our most imperfect, vulnerable and humiliated.

And I feel connected to Mary, full of fear of the life she is called to live.

I feel connected both to her fear and her faith.

Consolation has given me the courage to confront my fears and the faith to trust in the mystery of how my fears have introduced me to growth.

Annemarie Barrett is a native of the Midwest who has been living in solidarity as a Franciscan lay missioner with Franciscan Missioner Service in Cochabamba, Bolivia since January 2013. Please feel free to read my Franciscan blog here.