Are you fearful about the future? If so, read the first chapters of Luke's Gospel.

They start with an angel announcing Zechariah's wife Elizabeth will bear a son who will be great before the Lord.

Next, the angel Gabriel informs Mary she will conceive and bear Jesus.

Moving on, Simeon, a devout man, prophesizes, "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel." Finally, Anna, a prophetess, gives "thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem."  

One way to interpret these events is to see them as one expectation following another: an angel tells Zechariah to expect a son; Mary is expected to bear Jesus; Simeon speaks of Jesus as an expectation for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and Anna prophesizes Christ as the expectation of Jerusalem's redemption.

Related to the concept of expectation is the word "spectacle" and the idea of looking forward. Expectation suggests hope, faith and probability. Its positive effect is creating an excitement about possible events to happen. Most important, it contains the virtues of faith and hope in God's providence.

Recently I have encountered numerous people in depression who only see a declining world, meaninglessness and no light at the end of the tunnel. They have been infected with the doldrums. Countering this despair is as crucial as conquering the coronavirus.

A spiritual exercise of St. Ignatius of Loyola is one means for handling fear of the future. Ignatius implores us to pray for what we most desire; what one thing do we most treasure? The exercise helps reveal our values and what we hold most important. It creates a reality check on who we are in contrast to what we should be in reality, especially in God's eyes.

When we succumb to fear and dreaded expectations, our energy becomes sapped. Examining our center – our very soul –  helps to change expectations by challenging us to reflect on our potential to face life rather than fear it – to turn to the Holy Spirit's powers of faith and hope and the ability to look forward to a brighter future.