At Mass last Saturday morning, the priest stated during his homily: “We are experiencing the decline of Western Civilization.”
Sunday’s Gospel reading continued the end-of time theme warning of the return of Christ. “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Luke 21:25-26). Is our worst nightmare upon us as we watch society undermine and ridicule our Catholic values?
Peace Amid the Storm
Many of us feel as if we must somehow help to save the world. But as a wonderful nun who does street ministry recently told me, “My job is just to “say” not to make anyone accept—that is the job of the Holy Spirit. Sister Faustine of Jesus from the Community of the Apostolic Sisters of St. John has a prison ministry in New Jersey and often walks the streets among gangs, sharing the love of Jesus. I asked her if she ever felt the task was overwhelming. “Speaking for Christ is not hard,” she said, “and we should not think that it would be through our own power that people will listen.”
God has given us our lives to live moment by moment in union with him. The tasks he sets before us are ones he gives us the grace to accomplish. However, we must fill ourselves with Christ to best serve him. One way to do this is to find a good spiritual director to help guide us to deeper union with God and avoid life’s pitfalls. Dan Burke’s new book, Navigating the Interior Life, Spiritual Direction And the Journey to God, explains what spiritual direction is and how to find a good director. “We absolutely cannot make it on our own,” he writes. “Without some external help to clean the windshield, we are headed for a crash.” Through spiritual direction, we are helped to begin a new journey deeper into Christ.
Find comfort and direction through the writings of other Catholics. In this Year of Faith, the Church especially encourages us to strengthen ours. Below are three books that I have found to be especially helpful tools for this endeavor. If possible, consider buying them at your local Catholic bookstore to support other Catholics doing their part to evangelize.
Imitation of Christ by Thomas a’ Kempis, a Augustinian monk in the early 15th Century, gives inspiration for renouncing the world and seeking God’s eternal truths. My reason for initially getting this book is reading it referred to by so many saints including St. Theresa of Lisieux, St. Thomas Moore, and St. Ignatius of Loyola. After the Bible, the Imitation of Christ is the most widely read devotional work and no other book besides the Bible has been translated into more languages. Once you begin reading it, you will immediately understand why.
Along the Way—Lessons for an Authentic Journey of Faith, is Randy Hain’s second book, in which he reveals the path that led him to Catholicism. He removes the pressure of feeling overwhelmed by setting priorities:
- I will serve Christ and love him with all my heart.
- My family is my primary vocation.
- My workplace is also my ministry.
Randy gives insight as how to internalize these priorities as well as many practical examples of how to share our faith with others. This book is an excellent companion for the Year of Faith.
Extreme Makeover Women, Transformed by Christ, Not Conformed to the Culture by Teresa Tomeo. In it, she shares how her thinking became distorted by the prevailing culture. Tomeo points women to a better way–to spiritual health, beauty, and holiness. She explains the teaching on sexual intimacy in Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae and shares excerpts from the 1995 Letter to Women and the encyclical Mulieris Dignitatem, Vengelium Vitae, in which the Pope referred to the “feminine genius” and the “new feminism.” Her book has been translated to Polish and she was invited to a speaking tour in Poland last month to inspire women not to give in to the culture of the world.
We are Not Alone
We are the Church Militant, those still on earth fighting the good fight. We have each other. Some ways we can network with other good Catholics is to join a prayer group, watch EWTN and Catholic TV, listen to Catholic radio and attend Catholic events. However, we must not get so busy that we lose sight of the daily responsibilities God has given us.
We have the Church Triumphant, our brothers and sisters in heaven, are interceding for us. Many of them were martyred for their courageous practice of the faith. St. Michael continues to fight for God, defending the Church and goes before us in this spiritual battle. Our Blessed Mother is the woman who will crush the head of Satan and she is our mother, interceding for us to her beloved son Jesus Christ. We have nothing to fear in such company.
Our Weapons are Lethal to the Enemy But Life-giving to Us
The Mass and Holy Communion are a refuge and strength as is Eucharistic adoration, prayer, and fasting. St. Padre Pio called the rosary “the weapon”. We can also place ourselves under the sovereignty of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the King of all nations. An old devotion that is growing in popularity is to enthrone the Sacred Heart of Jesus over our family. By physically enthroning Jesus, we publicly proclaim our allegiance to him, placing our families, schools, churches, cities, etc., under His divine protection and guidance.
When we make a covenant with the Sacred Heart of Jesus to live under His Kingship, we need not fear for we have the protection of the King of all Nations. For an information package on how to enthrone the Sacred Heart of Jesus, visit www.sacredheartapostolate.com.
Peace be With You
The world is not ours to fix. God made it, he owns it. He’ll let us know if he has something big for us to do. In the meantime, as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said: “We cannot do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”
Let Jesus have the last word in our lives: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27).
Patti Maguire Armstrong and her husband Mark have ten children. She is a communications specialist with Teresa Tomeo Communications, was managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’s Amazing Grace Series, and has published over 600 articles, appeared on EWTN Bookmark program, EWTN Live, and Catholic TV as well as radio stations across the country. She is also winner of the About.com 2011 Reader’s Choice Award . Her latest books, Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families, (Scepter Publishers) and children’s book, Dear God I don’t get it (Liguori Publications) will be released in Spring 2013.
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