Editor’s note: This article appeared on CE and the Catholic Gentleman in November, 2015. We are offering it to you today in light of our most recent tragedy in the United States. We pray for all those we have lost this year and hope that you will join us in praying for our nation, the victims of violence, and peace throughout the world.
The world, it seems, is falling to pieces. Each day brings ever worsening reports of war, violence, and devastation. Protests, riots, bombings, beheadings, rapes, kidnappings, persecutions—the list goes on and on. Yesterday, yet another horror unfolded in Paris, one of the most devastating yet in the Western world, and we feel with foreboding that it likely will not be the last such act of terror.
The weight of such tragedies weighs heavily on us. It is hard not to be downcast when we see evil engulfing all we hold dear like a great and ominous storm cloud, its lightnings and blackness overwhelming all. Neither is it a wonder that a growing number of Americans are on anti-depressants and anxiety medication.
What should we do then? How should we respond? I will leave the difficult answers of a public response to those wiser than myself. But faced with a world broken and bleeding, a world in the throes of a great at once moral, social, and spiritual, I want to issue a call to true, personal conversion, a call to sincere repentance.
What should we do? We should fall on our knees and cry out in the words of the Psalmist, Miserere nostri, Domine, miserere nostri….Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us. We should turn from our sins and toward the living God, the God who loves mankind and who is full of mercy and pardon.
Whom the Lord Loves, he Chastens
Throughout the Scriptures and the earthly sojourn of the Church, it is undeniable that God permitted times of great suffering frequently to chasten the people he loves. While God is never the direct cause of evil (we are, through our sin and disobedience), he permits it as a remedy to drive his forgetful people back to himself. And forgotten him we have. For decades now, perhaps even centuries, modern man has been on a quest to throw of the yoke of Christ’s authority. We have systematically driven him from the public square, from our schools, our families, and even, tragically, from our church. We have replaced this crucified Lord with a veritable anti-Christ—a Jesus of our own making, one who asks nothing of us, who demands no obedience nor conversion, but rather accommodates us in our sins.
Faced with a people whose hearts have gone cold and who have rejected his gentle rule, our Lord allows us to face the consequences of our rebellion toward him full on. Put another way, he allows us to reap what we have sown, and the harvest is rarely pleasant. Yet, our Lord permits this calamity for our good and ultimately because he loves us. As St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Hebrews,
“It is where he loves that he bestows correction; there is no recognition for any child of his, without chastisement. Be patient, then, while correction lasts; God is treating you as his children…. He does it for our good, to give us a share in that holiness which is his.”
Faced with a world in the convulsions of great crisis, then, we must not despair or doubt. Rather, we must turn back to our Father who loves us, full of contrition for our sins and with a heart submissive to his will, no matter the cost. In the words of St. Peter, our first Pope, “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”
Have you been far from God? Be converted with a sincere heart and confess your sins. Hear the words of absolution and be at peace.
Have you perhaps been receiving your Eucharistic Lord with a heart cold and devoid of love? Meditate on the goodness of Jesus to you, his self-emptying on the cross to save you, and stir again the fading coals of love.
Have you failed to pray, to heed the longing that you feel for God? Make time for our Lord intentionally. Give him the best of your day, rising early if you must to call on him.
Have you been in love with the comforts and things of the world, filled with materialism and worldliness? Shed this vain pursuit and return to your good Savior.
Have you been enslaved by lust and hedonism? Reject these empty lies of the devil and seek the love that lasts forever.
Have the cares of this world choked the life of God in your soul? Remember the one thing needful—love of God from whom all good things come.
In short, renew once again your baptismal promises in which you vowed to serve Christ the King and be true to him till death. Do not wait any longer. Answer the call of your confirmation and do battle for the Lord who loves you. Turn from this broken world to our Lord and his merciful Mother, whose infinite compassion will reject no one and from whom alone you can find true healing. Shake off the coldheartedness and apathy that so easily sets in, and once again with fervor determine to follow Christ with your whole heart.
Finally, never lose hope, for the Lord’s mercy is endless, and he has promised us that the Woman, our Immaculate Mother Mary, will crush the head of the serpent and seal our Lord’s eternal victory. When the canker of doubt begins to gnaw at you, when you are tempted to despair by both your own sins and the sins of the world, remember the words of Jeremiah, the prophet, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’“
When you feel the palpitations of fear and of anxiety besetting you, remember too the words of St. Paul, St. Paul, a man who knew the meaning of suffering:
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will affliction, or distress, or persecution, or hunger, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? For thy sake, says the scripture, we face death at every moment, reckoned no better than sheep marked down for slaughter. Yet in all this we are conquerors, through him who has granted us his love.
Of this I am fully persuaded; neither death nor life, no angels or principalities or powers, neither what is present nor what is to come, no force whatever, neither the height above us nor the depth beneath us, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which comes to us in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.
Sacred heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.This article is reprinted with permission from our friends at The Catholic Gentleman.