Most of us cannot flee into the desert to set up shop away from the corruption and decadence of the world. Some, however, should try. We need both hermits and cenobites, rugged souls who will heed the Lord's call to "disappear" and be "useless", to pray and fast and rescue the Church and the world from the rising darkness.
For those of us who are currently aliens in exile in our own land, we must gird ourselves for the struggle to live as faithful Catholics. We cannot engage the struggle alone. We depend on the grace of God to enliven, illuminate and protect us.
If we do not distinguish ourselves from the world, i.e., from worldly practices, behaviours and other pursuits, we run the real risk of becoming the thing which robs us of our dignity.
Catholics who abort their children, or who are living in sin, or who practice contraception and approve of other unholy behaviours, are a testament to the failure of catechesis and to a failure of authentic formation in the Faith. Those lost souls desperately need love and the healing found in the confessional.
Q. Why have so many become indifferent to the call of Christ?
A. The "source and summit" of the Christian life has been subject to every kind of abuse. The celebration of the Mass has become decadent. Many have abandoned any sense of the sacred and thus have abandoned their dignity in Christ.
There has been a great and unholy obfuscation of the Divine Liturgy in our time that has reduced an appreciation of its necessity in the minds and lives of far too many Catholics. Even so, the martyrs—and there have been plenty in the last few decades alone—have managed to draw strength from the Mass and, by their Eucharistic lives, point us to God.
If you do not already engage in the following or similar habits, consider doing so for the sake of your soul and the health of the world.
- Pray daily, morning and night (add an examination of conscience before going to bed); pray habitually throughout the day. Pray the Angelus at noon.
- Offer your day to the Lord. Ask for the grace to accomplish all tasks given to you with a joyful heart and a mind to excellence.
- Study the Compendium of the Catechism [click HERE].
- Set aside 10 minutes a day to read the Bible; reflect on the Biblical readings for daily Mass and the readings for Sunday.
- Receive the Holy Eucharist on the tongue. Be able to explain why you receive on the tongue and NOT in the hand.
- Make the Sign of the Cross in public, especially when saying grace before a meal and when passing a Catholic church.
- Wear a crucifix: we are a people of signs, and signs speak volumes.
- Priests: wear your clerical attire throughout the day. The art of your appearance touches people in a multitude of ways. Clericals establish presence in the public square.
- Practice modesty in dress and habit of speech. Modest dress points to a confidence one has knowing one is created in the image and likeness of God, and that one's dignity does not depend on the shifting opinions. Rather, the Catholic seeks to dispose himself to the will of God and live in harmony with the Gospel.
- Abstain from meat on Fridays. If you are a vegetarian, abstain from another type of food. We are body-mind creatures. We have a responsibility to be good stewards of the body God has given us through our parents. Even if our body is not perfect by worldly standards, and even if we suffer from a disability, we can offer our sufferings to God. It is in and through our wounds (physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual) that God can enter our lives. Sometimes it takes a serious wound to shake us from our complacency, a crisis to open in us a doorway through which God, patiently waiting on the other side of that door, can enter and provide us healing from our fallen or wounded state. God only wills our good. No physical impediment can keep us from God's love. Fasting and abstaining reorients our bodies and minds to a different understanding of beauty. The person who can see beauty in the wounded body of Christ crucified is one who can see beauty in the tortured lives of his brothers and sisters. The spiritual disciplines that Holy Mother Church encourages us to practice help us grow in holiness, a holiness that helps love grow in others.
- Support bona fide Catholic charities: volunteer; offer material and financial assistance.
- Do not support unholy enterprises (e.g. "charitable" organizations that support abortion; unwholesome movies with gratuitous violence and sex acts/pornography).
- Invest your money in morally acceptable enterprises. Let's face it, there is a lot of money possessed by very few people, people who often give their money to organizations that impose their respective immoral ideologies on vulnerable cultures. Secular enterprises most often engage in practices which lack nuance and appreciation for the beauty and goodness of indigenous cultures. The Church evangelizes cultures from within by emphasizing the love, truth, beauty and goodness found in a culture. In other words, the Church first looks for the Gospel hidden in cultures before proposing the Gospel in an explicit manner. Recall Saint Paul at the Areopagus speaking to the Athenians about the temple to the unknown god.
- Identify! When people start bad mouthing the Church and/or Catholics in your presence, inform them you are Catholic. If possible, use humour to engage: "If you think Catholics are bad, you're right. We're a lot like everybody else, except we know we need forgiveness and we know where to find it. You're welcome to join us imperfect people!" Offer to pray for others.
- Speak up! Write your MLA, MP, senator, congressman, etc., a well reasoned handwritten letter and speak up on the issues! Let your voice be heard... again and again and again!