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Sponge Bob needs to pray the Rosary! --or-- It Is Time to Face Our Fears!

StromkastenAlsSpongebobImage via Wikipedia
I was watching Sponge Bob on TV today.  Yes!  It's my day off and it is raining.  I couldn't cut the grass even though it is almost as tall as a cornstalk.  Well, maybe not that tall, but my dog won't even try to go to the "potty" out there.  Haha!  So I just relaxed in my living room, caught up on some correspondence, and watched Sponge Bob.

I learned alot today.  First of all I learned that I do not really like most modern cartoons. They are way too noisy, violent and nonsensical for me.   From the vantage point of a rapidly aging middle-ager they don't even come close to the quality of "my" cartoons:  Bugs Bunny and company, Aesop's Fables, The Road Runner, Yogi, Ouick Draw McDraw, Underdog, Popeye, Pepe LePew, Tweety Bird, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Bullwinkle... I could go on and on.  There have been a few animated feature films that were very good.

I watched cartoons well into my college years and even wrote a paper for one of my special education courses on the types of speech impediments the various characters had.  Poor Elmer couldn't say his "r's".  Sylvester had a lisp.  Daffy had a lateral lisp, and I suspect he was dyslexic.

The only modern cartoon I have enjoyed in recent years was Pinky and the Brain.  Though I did have a reserved fondness for Josey and the Pussycats on Scooby Doo.  None of the current adult oriented animations like Family Guy or South Park qualify as cartoons in the classic sense.

I think I got side tracked a bit, there.

At one point in the Sponge Bob Squarepants episode he said,
 "I don't want to face my fears because I am afraid of them."

What a profound and revealing statement, not only about Sponge Bob but also about human tendencies in general.

Fear is a tricky little goblin.  We have an experience or are taught by the experience of others to be wary about certain things.  My mother almost drowned when she was a teenager and had a fear of water all her life.  She passed that fear onto my sister who never even came close to drowning but will still not go into water above her waist.  My dad fell off a roof one time and almost died.  To this day I get queasy when I near the edge of a tall building.  When I was around 5 I saw the movie Psycho.  I was afraid to shower all my childhood.  A loud noise when I am showering can still make me nearly jump out of the shower and scream like a sissy.  Well, most of us have developed a few fears along the way.
Thankfully, many of us have gotten over many of our fears, or at least we are able to manage them.

The thing about Sponge Bob's statement that caught my attention was that he admitted that he was afraid of his fears.  Phobias are crippling because just the thought of having to endure certain situations or things can emotionally paralyze a person. We become afraid of our fears.  This new fear is often even stronger than the original fear of water, spiders, snakes, closed places, heights, darkness, etc.  Ask anyone who experiences panic attacks.  They fear the panic attack and the sense of helplessness as much as they fear the trigger of the attacks.  Depression, shame, isolation, self-disgust, loss of faith and even suicide or suicidal thoughts are common to those who have panic attacks.  What if I have another one?  Will it ever stop this time?  People will really think I am strange!

What is the answer to this problem?  I would suggest a good psychologist who is trained in treating panic disorders.  They have many tried and true methods which help people live a normal life.

Beyond that, do some positive mental work on yourself.  If you start to feel anxious remind yourself of several things:

  • this is just a panic or anxiety attack -- say this quickly and repeatedly for a minute or two.  
  • many people, even successful and spiritual people have them
  • it does not mean you have done something wrong: it is not punishment for some real or imagined sin.
  • they do not last forever
  • they are not life threatening even though it feels like your heart may stop at any moment
  • Breath deeply and slowly as much as you can
  • God is there with you

I would also suggest praying the Rosary.  As I often say, "There's power in them there beads."!  Take it all to Jesus through Mary.  Let the repetitive praises and meditation calm you.  It puts your life in a much larger, safer, healthier, holier perspective.  The Rosary is the second most powerful prayer that God has revealed to us because it involves meditation, contemplation, Sacred Scripture, the saving life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the communion of saints, and all the basic beliefs familiar to all Christians.  Plus, for Catholics we should remind ourselves that the beads themselves are sacramentals, and the recitation of the Most Holy Rosary is the most indulgenced sacramental in the Catholic Church.  Some fears are primarily psychological.  Some are primarily spiritual or attacks by the evil one.  Some are a combination.  The Rosary address all of them.

How do I know all this stuff I have written today?  I am a cartoon aficionado, hence a self-proclaimed expert on the genre!  *joking, there!*  Actually, I do suffer from frequent anxiety attacks and the resulting effects.  I use the techniques I mentioned.  I cling prayerfully and hopefully to my Rosary.  And though I am a bit wacky, probably from all that cartoon watching, I am a joyful and grateful priest who is in Love with the Lord, His Mother and His Church.

Bdee, Bdee, Bdee....  That's all folks!

...for now ;-)

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