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There are two storms on the horizon and they are both fast
approaching: one is called Dissention and its fierce
winds will agitate us and tear us apart. The other one is called Confusion
and its menacing clouds will blind us, its sweeping rain will drench us and
paralyze us. The storms will attack our families and our communities, it will
zero in on our Church and our country, our neighbors, our allies and our enemies
alike. No one will escape them.
We have been warned and we have been advised, we have been counseled on what to do and when to do it. The signs have been recorded all along and even though they are now gathering themselves at a faster pace, we have also been told how to act and react: first, recognize dissention and confusion for what they are, some of the best tools of the master of temptations, the prince of lies, the ruler of this world. Then remember why we are here and where we are going: we are here to worship God, to praise him and honor him and he has specifically asked us to put it into practice by helping and loving one another. The Kingdom of God is our goal and no storm - whether local or international - should ever make us forget it.
We have been given a check-list of what to do and how to prepare ourselves and the Church in her great wisdom has always pass-on that information faithfully from one generation to the next. The Saints have repeated it in their own words again and again. In these amazing times that we are now living, we need to pay close attention to the "To Do" list.
THE TO-DO LIST:
1 - Prayers.
Are you confused? Pray. Are you scared? Pray more! Double your
times of prayers. This is what Mother Theresa did and this is what she always
recommended: "Every one should pray every day. But if you are very busy, if
you are the kind of person with a very active and stressful life, then you need
to pray twice as much!" It is quite astonishing what this little Lady from Albania
was able to accomplish. Not only is it remarkable what she herself did during
her life but the fact that she is still inspiring so many others to this very
day should make us pause and wonder. Hundreds of people are still arriving every
week to her center in Calcutta, saying: "We want to help. What can we do?" Some
stay only a few days, some stay longer. But when they leave, they all have been
enriched and strengthened.
Ask others to pray for you. Both personal prayers and communal prayers work like a shield. The strength we will receive from prayers is the first level of defense that we need. Now is not the time to waver and cut corners on prayers, because if we do, we would be doing exactly what the enemy is hoping for…
Prayers will help us from the inside out.
Besides prayers, we need to seek out the two sacraments that we have been given to help us in our daily lives: Reconciliation to correct us when we go astray and wash us with grace and the Eucharist to feed us and sustain us with the love of Christ and the strength of the Spirit. Access to the sacramental life is absolutely crucial.
The sacraments will help us from the outside in. What else is there to do?
2 - Feed your soul
a healthy diet:
turn off the TV, leave the BlackBerry behind and unplug yourself from the medias! How can you expect not to be swept away by the first waves of the storm if you go out on the pier in defiance of all Major Alerts? Every time you turn on the TV or go to the movies, you are going out to the end of the Pier. And remember, that Pier is full of termites… Even when staying on firm ground, there is a very pernicious addiction working on us on two levels: paralysing us visually in front of flickering screens and audibly sending an avalanche of verbiage in our ears via cells and ipods and causing our mouths to go yack yack yack,. How are you going to hear that small still voice? unless you make the decision to exercise your soul and your heart: strengthen yourself by reading Scriptures. The Word of God is the best renewal source of energy in the world. Take one verse from the Psalms and chew on it all day long. Listen to edifying tapes in your car and surround yourself with inspirational quotes. Read the lives of the Saints before going to bed. Share your faith, talk and network about it. Join a new prayer group, check good Catholic blogs, download and read the latest encyclicals. Then ponder them, reflect on them and share the fruits with friends and family, with your co-workers, even with someone you don't know, the person next to you in the bus or at the cash-register. Share it with all! Why do you think they have been put on your path?
3 - Live the Works of Mercy.
Extend a hand and open up your heart. The heart grows healthier
when exercised regularly in love and service to others. Practice small acts
of self-denial and re-direct them to the Lord. Die to the self! Relieve the
sufferings of others as much as you can and endure your own sufferings as patiently
as possible and offer it all. And finally, always put your trust in the Lord's
mercy rather than in your own agenda. We are called to conversion, we are asked
to journey on the path to holiness. Because we are human, we are bound to come
up short, but because we are Christian, we will keep trying and get back on
track for the journey. Know that if you do your part - which is to love God
and love your neighbor - nothing and I mean NOTHING will separate us from the
love of God that comes to us through Christ, as Saint Paul so wonderfully said
in Rom 8:39. There is nothing to fear. Faith and hope and love are the best
protection gears against the approaching storms.
Some storms look like a storm (and so did Katrina!) but others are under the radars and more misleading, although they achieve similar levels of destruction. Storms of confusion and dissention are swirling all around us under many shapes and forms: the wars in the Middle East and the culture wars at home, the growing anti-Christian mood in the popular culture and the under-currents fanning the flames of dissent within the Church, the beheadings in Iraq, the kidnaps in Afghanistan, the slow poison of condescendence and skepticism being spread to millions via the Da Vinci Code, the Gospel of Judas and other similar works, the recurring protests and demonstrations popping up all over the map, the thousands of migrants marching for a decent job while the heads of corporations are running away with their employees pension, the famines in Africa while the West is fighting kids obesity, the greed within the scientific community driving completely un-ethical research and the parallel greed of the stock market manipulators who never have enough, the fingers of addiction choking more and more people and targeting them younger and younger, the swelling numbers of incarcerated men and the insidious and silent spreading of eugenics and euthanasia…
The laundry list of our world's recent tribulations is jarring. Earthquakes in the West should be next although trying to predict when and where is less important than building up our spiritual defenses and stocking up on supernatural help! Be prepared, stay alert and sober, and fasten the seat-belt of faith tighter… We are in for a wild ride. But as believers, we know He is always with us and we trust in his promise. The coming of the storms is a test of our trust and our fidelity. We need to exercise discernment. Our eyes need to be open beyond the surface of things.
4 - The grace of God!
Because the truth is that grace abounds all around us too!
His divine mercy is flowing abundantly from His heart right now. The numbers
of conversions are amazing (although you'll never know it by watching the network
news), there is a renewal of orthodoxy within young Christians, there is a deepening
of their commitment in older faithful, there are many late vocations, and there
are many re-turns and re-verts, including yours truly. There is a very interesting
diffusion of prayers all over the place, such as the divine mercy devotion which
has now reached every corner of the world within one generation. There are missionaries
and priests and nuns dying for the faith in far away places and bringing many
souls to God in the process. There are new orders popping up in our midst and
working very quietly among us. There is a very large and constant movement of
pilgrims to key holy places and one of the latest one, Medjugorje, has already
generated millions of confessions and distributed millions of Eucharists within
the last 20 years. The internet is definitively facilitating the spreading of
the faith, of apologetics and evangelization. The biggest televised
event of 2005 was the funeral Mass for John Paul II and the Host was raised
for the whole world to see and to receive his merciful rays…
Even outside the circles of believers, many echoes of His grace are to be found: in many people seeking out a "just life", in their hunger for peace and justice, in their general search for ways to build a better world and this is, for many of them, about as close as they can come to the divine spark. God himself has planted his Natural Law in our hearts and has programmed each one of us with a conscience and with a desire for the transcendent. For all of us who have been so blessed that we are able to see God in the face of His Son, we should always remember to be patient with the ones who have not received this revelation yet and we should be attentive to their efforts toward the divine and the heavenly, especially when they, themselves, do not know how to articulate it. This is where we can help them and this is when we are supposed to extend a hand and tell them about the Good News...
So armed to the teeth with the fullness of our faith we will wait unwaveringly for the approaching storms, the real ones and the phony ones, and we will confront them with the love of God and the power of truth. There is nothing to fear. And we will say:
on me, God, have mercy, for in you my soul has taken refuge.
In the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by." Ps 57
Copyright ©2005 Michele Szekely