Yesterday’s blog on the increasing darkness in our culture received a lot of good feedback. Special thanks to Patrick Madrid for spreading the word. Reading such data can cause us to feel discouraged at times. Here are a few thoughts on this discouragement and what we can do about it.
1. The beatitude “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” comes to mind. Who are those who mourn? It is they who see the awful state of God’s people: that so many do not know Him or honor Him. Those who mourn are those who see how many do not know why they were made and spend their lives on lesser or even useless things (and get lost in sin and the deadly wages of sin). Seeing this, they mourn. But this mourning is not depression; it is a sadness rooted in love, and so, as the beatitude says, they are “comforted.” But here the word comforted is to be understood more in relation to its Latin root confirmare which means to strengthen. Hence those who mourn because they love God’s people and see their awful state are also those who will be strengthened and motivated to go to work to make a difference.
2. Indeed, there is an old Chinese proverb that says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” And though we may feel things have descended deeply and rapidly, just keep preaching, teaching, and striving for holiness. God has a way of multiplying our works when we least expect it. The harvest will come; for now, just keep sowing seeds and watering them with your tears of love.
3. Another saying goes, “It is easier to wear slippers than to carpet the whole of the earth.” Further, we are instructed just before a flight that in the event of an emergency we should don our own mask before assisting others with theirs. In both of these instances, we hear the additional advice that we should initiate any reform by first tending to our own heart and life. If the world is going to reform, it has to begin with me, with my own decisions. Scripture says, “They made me a keeper of vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept” (Song, 1:6). May it not be so for us.
There are many things we can do, big and small, that can begin to make a difference. Some involve small personal changes, others summon us to greater courage in relationships, and still others call us to greater generosity. Here is a list of some possible avenues. Please add to it! (Note: this list was not created with any particular order in mind.)
- Participate in pro-life vigils and “40 Days for Life.”
- Inform others, including media companies and manufacturers, when they have done well. Warn them when they cooperate in evils such as abortion (via support of Planned Parenthood) or homosexual activism.
- Ask for the gifts of joy, gratitude, and serenity. Others will notice and ask you about it!
- Read Catholic media; listen to Catholic Answers and EWTN radio. Grow in your faith!
- Work on overcoming your most frequent sins. Make a particular examen to help this.
- Pray over the news; don’t just watch it or read it, or, even worse, just complain about how awful things are. Pray as you listen and read.
- Sign up for Eucharistic adoration; encourage others to do so.
- Repent; go to confession frequently.
- Ask a friend to Mass; if he says “no,” ask again later and/or ask another person. But resolve to seldom come to Mass alone.
- Spend time with younger people; encourage in them what is good; explain what they misunderstand.
- Be consistent with prayer.
- Consider praying the rosary every day; if you can, add the Divine Mercy Chaplet as well.
- Support cloistered religious communities and ask their prayers.
- Be willing to take the risk and correct a fellow sinner; be humble but clear.
- Have the courage to warn those in your own family who may be mired in sins such as greed, fornication, cohabitation, unforgiveness, planning a divorce, etc.
- Have more children; be generous with life!
- If you are older, support those who do have many children by assisting with childcare or providing other necessary help.
- Support outreach to the poor, especially those programs that help them to break the cycle of poverty and to become more deeply rooted in the life of faith.
- Encourage bishops, priests, and deacons who are courageous in addressing what ails us.
- Support Catholic groups that seek to engage the culture and summon the world to reform and to Jesus.
- Pray! And then pray some more. If you can, fast occasionally.
- Pray some more!
In other words, consecrate your life to God and begin the great reform by looking to your own heart and mind. When people start to notice, ask them to join you. Many little things add up to a lot. We can’t change the culture overnight, but we surely can begin to make a difference in our own life and in the vineyard of our family, parish, and community, all of which the Lord has asked us to tend.
Here’s a beautiful song that you might print and pray often. (For a printable copy, Click here: Prayer of Consecration).
Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet, and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my King;
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold:
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as you choose.
Take my will, and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine;
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store;
Take myself, and I will be,
Ever, only, all for Thee.
Words: Frances R. Havergal 1874.
Here is a beautiful version, sung by Chris Tomlin.