Do you ever stop to notice the birds in the busyness of your day? Do you notice how they seemingly happily hop from branch to branch, sounding loudly in a near constant song? We are so busy in our day-to-day life and so used to the singing of the birds that we hardly even notice them.

For most of my life I paid no attention to birds. They were simply in the background of my world like all the other things that are there that you never notice…

But while at a recent silent retreat, the abundance of birds throughout the abbey grounds captivated me.

These birds started their day by singing the “dawn chorus,” awakening me with windows wide all singing in concert to announce the start of the day. As I heard their singing, the bells of the abbey sounded to call us to prayer. I will forever associate birdsong with those bells and quiet prayer in the early morning hours.

At meals, we sat silently looking out the window at a garden filled with flowers and bird feeders where it seemed like the birds put on a show with constant fluttering about. I was amazed to watch the female cardinal feed the male (so much so I exclaimed aloud at a silent retreat ;-)) and marvel in the varieties and colors of the birds here in the hills of Kentucky – all coming to have a bite to eat in the lovely garden.

Birds Bible - iris Gethsemane

As I reflected on the birds, God reminded me of the verse in Matthew 6:25-33…

“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?

Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?

Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin.

But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them.

If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?

So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’

All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.

Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”

What a beautiful passage to meditate upon! Let’s consider it piece by piece…

Anxiety & Choice


The first thing that appears to me in this verse is the human tendency toward anxiety. I was watching a show recently where the priest commented that Adam became anxious before the fall. He became anxious as soon as he realized he had a choice.

We are filled with countless choices in our day – some small, some seemingly monumental. Should we eat here or there? Should we go on a diet? Should we switch career paths? What to wear today?

Many of us are filled with anxiety at all of these choices. Adam had one; we have too many to count.

Perhaps this is why in the Bible, we hear the phrase “Do not fear,” or here “Do not worry,” over and over and over again. And this passage addresses exactly that: fear and anxiety and the remedy.

To start with, perhaps God is telling us to let the little things go. Jesus says that life is more than food and drink and clothes. While some people legitimately do not have these basic needs met, those of us who do can drop the worry about these little things.

God Will Provide

There have been many times in my life where I’ve struggled financially and was filled with worry. But really, I had food, I had water, I had clothes. And I had a LOT more than that. It’s more the fear of a loss of a particular lifestyle – and that’s not the end of the world if you have to downgrade your lifestyle. No matter what, I would have food and clothes and water. And beyond that, I was adding unnecessary worry.

Next, Jesus says to look at the birds. They DO NOT WORRY. They just do their thing.

They are flying, building nests, eating and singing. They don’t have reasoning, as we do, so they are incapable of worry, but are they any the worse for it? No, we can learn a thing or two from the birds.

It’s important to note that He also says that they gather nothing into barns, meaning they are not saving up for a rainy day. They are trusting God to provide. Sometimes, I think God strips us of our physical and monetary goods to help us learn how to trust Him. We aren’t trusting in the bank account where we’ve saved up hundreds of thousands of dollars that if we die tonight will not help us, but in God to provide only what we need.

That’s not to say it’s a bad thing to be financially prudent, yet look at St. Francis and his brothers who begged for all they had. And God provided.

Worry Is Fruitless

This next portion is the real zinger in my opinion: Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?

Uh, no.

Can we emblazon that on our hearts, repeat it to ourselves every day? What good is worry?

While going through many trials and tribulations with my mother as we began to discover she had dementia, I learned a valuable lesson. Stop worrying.

I reminded myself that worrying about her, or whatever the problem was at the given moment, did not help her at all. Whatever the situation, it would either work out well or poorly and me worrying about it would not change that outcome. It would only create more suffering for me in the process. So as best I could, I tried to let go of worry and just deal with the outcome. Again and again, God provided in miraculous ways and in angels sent to help us on our path.

God Wants Us in THIS Moment and THIS Circumstance

Cross Gethsemane

Fr. Mike Schmitz led a great series of homilies during Lent in 2024 about a man named Walter Csizek, a priest who suffered terrible persecution at the hands of the Russians in the 20th century.

Csizek wrote several books about his experience and how he learned to trust God’s will no matter what was happening to him. He realized that God wanted him in EVERY circumstance that was happening, no matter how bad, and all he could do was his best to fulfill God’s will in that moment.

God does not ever will evil, but He does permit it insofar as he can bring good out of it, according to St. Thomas Aquinas.

So if I find myself in a stressful circumstance these days, I say to myself as much as needed, “God desires me to be in THIS circumstance in THIS moment.” It is His will whatever is happening and instead of trying to change it or fight it or argue against it, I need to just do the best I can with it. He WILL bring good from it – whether I see that good or not.

What’s the Remedy?

hymnal rosary

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given you besides.”

Pursue God. Go to mass. Pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Go to confession and receive absolution. Receive the Eucharist. Talk to God. Sit in adoration. Desire His will above all things. Give God control of your life.

Do the things that you know will keep you connected to the true vine, that will grow your relationship with God, that will feed you with the divine life. And then… trust.

To remind myself of the incredible lesson that the birds can teach us, I came home after the retreat and bought 2 bird feeders for our yard. Now, I enjoy watching the birds and have a constant reminder that they do not reap or sow, but God takes care of them. How much more will He do that for us?