“Only those who live by faith really know what is happening in the world.”Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen
Do we know what is happening in the world today?
Evil runs rampant. Over 20,898,000 babies worldwide died from abortion so far this year; over 526,946 suicides; over $196,583,000,000 spent on illegal drugs this year (see https://www.worldometers.info/ for continuously updated numbers). And what about the numbers for violent crime, sex trafficking, sexual depravity, and—most troubling—the priest sex abuse scandal?
Plus, there has been a great loss of faith. Less and less identify as Christian. More and more embrace everything from hedonism and New Age beliefs to pure evil. And even among Catholics, over 69% no longer believe in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist (see Pew Research).
We’ve known about all those things, but what have we done about them? And now, within the past few months, we’ve been struck with more–things we cannot ignore even if we wanted to! The entire world lives in fear of a virus, and we’ve completely changed the way we live our lives. Terrorists are destroying countries from within. Many churches are still closed. And who knows what lies on the horizon?
But do we really know what is happening in the world today?
The news media reports these tragedies, one after the other–too often with a slant. The situation in our world today can terrify us if we don’t have the right vision. We are called to live by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). We need to look beyond the wars and rumors of war, the plagues and violence, and even beyond our own needs and physical well-being. We need to see with the eyes of faith. What underlies all the conflict and tragedy we see and hear about in the world? It is the spiritual battle between good and evil.
Are you a child of light?
Archbishop Vigano, in his letter to President Trump, recognized the two opposing sides that exist as eternal enemies and which are growing in our world today: the children of light and the children of darkness. He sees the forces of darkness, which once concealed their true intentions, revealing their plans openly in this generation, certain that they have won. He suspects that the riots in America, and those happening at the same time in Europe, have been orchestrated to dissolve the social order and build a new world without freedom.
Vigano recognizes the opposing sides within the Church as well: “the faithful Shepherds who care for the flock of Christ” vs. the “mercenary infidels who seek to scatter the flock and hand the sheep over to be devoured by the ravenous wolves.”
It is enough to make your head spin. It is enough to make one despair.
Has God forsaken us?
While it sometimes feels like God has forsaken us, God has already proven His love for us by sacrificing His only Son in atonement for our sins. He loves us and desires our salvation. He made each one of us to be happy with Him forever in heaven, so we can know with certainty that whatever cross comes our way, He only allows it so that some greater good will come of it. So the question is, have we forsaken God? Heaven is ours if we choose it, and we choose it by choosing God in our everyday actions.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”Jesus, John 14:15
For those who are not living in the state of grace, misfortune serves as a wake-up call. For those in a relationship with Jesus, trials and crosses are meant to purify a soul like silver in fire. By uniting our sufferings to the cross, they become valuable, and when added to our prayers, they can help many souls. We have no need to fear pain, suffering, inconvenience, bad news, setbacks, and other disappointments.
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell.Matthew 10:28
If we remain close to Our Lord and strive for holiness, we have nothing to fear in these dark times. But we do have a role to play. Pray, do penance, and have courage.
You were made for these times!
God wants you to be His instrument. And if you are tempted to think that you are too little, too much of a nobody to accomplish great things, think of Saint Joan of Arc, who was called by God as a teen, led the French in several battles, and then died a martyr’s death all by age 19.
Think of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. He developed a deep spiritual life at a young age, and joined the St. Vincent de Paul Society so he could care for the sick and needy–even at the risk of his own health. He contracted polio from the sick he tended. So great was his love, so fearless his faith, that he even asked that his medicine be given to another.
Think of Blessed Isidore Bakanja, a merciful catechist who forgave the attackers who caused his death–they hated him for his Catholicism and his African race. He converted to Christianity at age 18, wore the Brown Scapular, and carried the Rosary with him everywhere he went. He also zealously shared his faith with anyone who would listen and on his death bed promised to pray for his attackers in heaven.
Or take this contemporary teen and expert in computers for your role model, with his brief but intense witness to an authentic Christian life. Venerable Carlo Acutis attended daily Mass, prayed the Rosary daily, and developed a website that catalogs Eucharistic miracles. He died of leukemia at the age of 15, after offering all his sufferings for the pope and the Church.
So, what are we to do in these difficult times?
- Look to the saints for the examples of courage and faith that we need today. It is really such an honor that we are called to be the saints of our generation! The light in our dark culture!
- Using Sacred Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we must learn our faith inside and out so we can embody it, teach it to our children, and share it with anyone who will listen to us. Our formation is a never-ending process, and we must make sure our children realize that too.
- We should also learn our history. Some seek to erase it as part of their plan to destroy our country. And we should make sure our children know it.
- Heed the messages of Our Lady made known at Fatima and elsewhere: God calls us to holiness, to lives of prayer and penance. He calls us to be faithful soldiers of Christ, in the army of God.
- Visit Jesus often in the Blessed Sacrament, the unique gift of His presence with us, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
- Pray the Rosary daily, avail yourself of the sacraments, and invest in the Brown Scapular.
- Live the Faith. Learning and speaking about it is nothing if you are not living it for all to see and learn from your example.
- Let us also remind ourselves and instill in our children the fact that we were not made for this world but to be with God in the eternal happiness of heaven. We are pilgrims in this world, on our way to the castle of the Great King.
“Have we lost sight of this world being a pilgrimage? It’s a journey. You’re not home yet. A Christian must never lose sight of this passing reality of life.”Mother M. Angelica
Heaven help us.
Jesus has not left us orphans. He has promised to remain with us always, to the close of the age (Matt 28:20). He fulfills this promise in the Most Blessed Sacrament, His true presence among us. And He will remain in our tabernacles and on the altar in every Catholic Mass until the end of the age. Even if we aren’t allowed to go to Mass for a period of time.
Who would’ve ever imagined that we would be forbidden from attending Mass for so long? These are indeed unsettling times. I seem to remember a verse in Daniel that talks about the Holy Sacrifice being abolished and abomination being set up in the holy place (see Daniel 12:11). Jesus referred to this verse when asked what will be the sign of His second coming and the end of the age (see Matthew 24:15).
Are we at the end of the age?
Some believe we are. Some also believe that we will soon experience the illumination of conscience that many saints, blesseds, and modern-day seers have told us about. If you have not heard of it before, let me explain. This will be like a mini judgment where every person sees their soul as God sees it. We will each see the sins of our life and the consequences of those sins. We will know and feel our eternal destination, should we die without repentance. This is a gift of mercy, whereby sinners will have the opportunity to reconcile with God.
To Saint Faustina Kowalska Jesus said: “In the Old Covenant I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to My people. Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish suffering mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart. I use punishment when they themselves force Me to do so; My hand is reluctant to take hold of the sword of justice. Before the Day of Justice I am sending the Day of Mercy.Diary of St Faustina, #1588
I recently read a novella that reminded me of this supernatural event, though the author had not been following Marian apparitions and was not aware of the illumination of conscience. She wrote the story and set it aside for years but recently felt called to work on the story and publish it. I read an advanced copy and knew at once it was a story for our times. This story had me thinking hard about the times we live in and the drastic decline in morals. And it had me thinking of this prophecy, the illumination of conscience, which I do wish would come soon. I want to see my soul as God sees it, so that I can change whatever is displeasing to Him. I want the faithful throughout the world to grow in holiness and for the unfaithful to repent.
Story summary: It all happened one morning. It was as if the world had gone mad. Well, maybe not the whole world, but enough of it to get noticed. People were waking up as if possessed; suffering souls resorting to tearing at their skin, crying out loud to no one in particular, haunted by a sudden internal torment that no one around them could decipher. For investigative reporter Elijah, this news story was way bigger than a scoop. Unless he could unmask the truth behind the madness, how could he stop it, once and for all? And more urgent – how could he keep it from happening to him?
“Write this: before I come as the Just Judge, I am coming first as the King of Mercy. Before the day of justice arrives, there will be given to people a sign in the heavens of this sort: All light in the heavens will be extinguished, and there will be great darkness over the whole earth. Then the sign of the cross will be seen in the sky, and from the openings where the hands and the feet of the Savior were nailed will come forth great lights which will light up the earth for a period of time. This will take place shortly before the last day.”Diary of St Faustina, #83