The world has gone mad. Unchecked by the free world, ISIS is spreading rapidly throughout the Middle East, and they have already made their presence known in Europe and here in the U.S. They have their sights set on the Vatican and the destruction of what remains of Christendom.
Meanwhile, Ireland, one of the most traditionally Catholic countries in the world, just voted to approve gay marriage, in what was really more of a referendum on the Church than it was anything else. And the Church was soundly rejected. Our own U.S. Supreme court is poised to decide legally the same issue of marriage very soon.
I could go on. But if you aren’t unsettled by current events, there’s something wrong.
So how are we to respond as Catholics who strive to remain faithful to Christ and his Church? Do we allow fear to blossom into panic? Do we allow despair to take root, surrendering to heresy, schism, or outright agnosticism? No. We must not.
As we face the swelling waves of darkness and evil threatening to overwhelm all that is good and true, there is only one solution: We must hold fast.
Centuries ago, sailors who braved the high seas would tattoo the words “hold fast” to their knuckles. In sailor speak, for a thing to be “fast” means it is securely anchored, positively secured. Mariners believed that tattooing these words would help them “hold fast” to the rigging in the midst of violent storms.
Brothers, we must not be overwhelmed. We must not be afraid. We must hold fast to Christ. Here are four practical ways to face the storm.
1. PRAY AND SACRIFICE
It is easy to complain. When we see things wrong in the Church or in the world, it is natural to point the finger, to get on internet forums or comment sections and voice our disapproval of this bishop or this priest or that misguided practice. But really, this accomplishes nothing.
A far better and holier solution, the solution of the saints, is to pray and sacrifice twice as much as we point out error. “Prayer joined to sacrifice constitutes the most powerful force in human history,” St. John Paul II once said, and he was right. If we really want to see the power of God work, we must stop grumbling and take up the two battle-tested weapons of prayer and sacrifice.
2. STAY CLOSE TO MARY
The battle we are now witnessing is the final conflict between the Queen of Heaven and the proud serpent who hates her with all his heart. If we would survive the tempest we now face, we must look to the bright Stella Maris, the Star of the Sea, who will lead us to the shores of Heaven.
“In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary,” advises the great saint of the Middle Ages, Bernard of Clairvaux. “With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal.” What more can be said? Stay close to our Blessed Mother and you will be saved.
3. STAY CLOSE TO JESUS IN THE EUCHARIST
There is nothing greater on this earth than the Holy Eucharist, for it is nothing less than Jesus himself. In the Eucharist, we see the fulfillment of the promise, “I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” If we are to have the strength to persevere in faith, we must nourish ourselves on the heavenly Bread of Angels. Frequently, devoutly, and with proper preparation.
Moreover, we would do well to spend time adoring Christ in a Holy Hour. Praying and pouring out our hearts before Christ hidden under the appearance of bread is life changing. If you do so, you will hear him speak words of comfort to you: “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” The Eucharist alone can nourish our flagging souls and revive them with new life.
4. PRAY THE ROSARY
Pope after pope, saint after saint, Marian apparition after Marian apparition has exhorted us to pray the rosary. Why so much pleading for this simple prayer? Two reasons: First, it is incredibly powerful and the demonic realm hates it, for it is the whole story of the Gospel in a single prayer; Second, because despite the countless requests, hardly anyone actually prays it.
Sure, we may have a rosary hanging from the mirror in our car, or one laying on our nightstand. But rosaries are not decoration. How many of us actually sacrifice 20 minutes or so and take up this powerful and heavenly weapon on a daily basis? I admit it is something I have struggled to do consistently, but I am renewing my commitment to a daily rosary, and I hope you will too.
HE WHO ENDURES
“When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the earth?”
A good question, one that we must answer by our choices. Will we be faithful? Will we survive the storm, or will we be blown overboard and be lost forever? Are we willing to suffer for the Faith and for Christ? Everyday we must answer those questions anew, for things will likely get worse before they get better. Are we prepared for that possibility?
Brothers, let us lash ourselves to the deck of the Barque of Peter. While many daily deny him and sell him to the highest bidder, let us be faithful to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who loves us and gave himself for us.
Heaven isn’t for quitters. It isn’t for wimps. Hold fast, for he who perseveres to the end will be saved.