Pardon me for yet another personal post, but I want to try to clarify it for myself, and also to help anyone else who might be in need of this particular pep talk.
I was listening to an interview with Hilary White at One Peter 5 when it hit me like a ton of bricks.
Now, what I'm about to say isn't anything new. In fact, it is obvious. Spiritual directors, family and friends have noted it ever since it became apparent where we as a Church really are right now.
"What, in this situation, is our duty? How is it different from any other age or any other situation?
"Keep the faith; pursue personal sanctity."
That's how Miss White phrased it. And sometimes you just need to hear something you already know from a different voice.
I have been very much caught up in "sounding the alarm" mode; "taking a stand" mode; "if you acknowledge Me before men I will acknowledge you before My Heavenly Father" mode. And what's more, I refuse to call that a bad thing. It could help other people take action before it's too late.
But I forgot to note the answer to the question "what action?". And that is to look to the means necessary to advance the cause of your personal salvation. What good will it do me if I become some modern Tiresias if I end up in the pit because I forgot to make my own personal salvation-- my own personal holiness-- my first priority? I need to become the person God intends me to be, whatever the cost.
Now if my salvation is my number one priority, what should I be doing? What should any Catholic do? Avail myself of the sacraments and sacramentals, stay close to the liturgy of the Church, do good unto others, and live out the duties of my state of life.
This plan has long ago been condensed for me into a Dutch uncle-type piece of advice from my spiritual director: "Man your trench."
It can be hard for many to assist at daily Mass, particularly the traditional Mass. I live within an easy fifteen minute drive of daily traditional Mass. Some cannot go to an 8 am Mass because of work schedules. I own my own business and could go nearly every day. In fact, I used to. Now my attendance is sporadic. Why? Is my salvation my number one priority?
I am a member of the lay society of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. My vocation calls for me to assist at daily Mass when possible, to pray one hour of the Divine Office each day, to pray the Rosary daily, to engage in certain spiritual readings and to pray for the Institute. I have not been faithful to this vocation. Why? Is my salvation my number one priority?
I know that some of my more strident posts have made my spiritual director cringe. In fact, it led to some difficult discussions between us. The entirety of the situation has been very difficult for me to handle. I realize that sounds overly dramatic, and I'm sure it is, but it's true.
St. Francis de Sales is a patron of the Institute. His whole teaching could be boiled down to the fact that the quickest path to holiness is to lovingly perform the duties of one's state of life. I need to be a more attentive husband, father and provider. Why would I let blogging get in the way of that? Is my salvation my number one priority?
In the podcast, Mr. Skojec pointed out that we may soon not have access to the spiritual resources we're accustomed to. Miss White replied correctly: "The resources you're accustomed to aren't necessarily the resources you absolutely need."
True enough. And one hears of people-- many people, in fact-- who live hours from the nearest traditional Mass, a good confessor, and solid spiritual direction. But God has blessed me with every advantage there. I haven't made full use of these advantages, and it's time to do so.
There may come a day when all these advantages disappear, and we are left without access to Mass and the sacraments. Until such a time, it would indeed be blameworthy not to take make use of the bounty given.
So, that's what I need to focus on-- my number one priority. And if salvation is my priority, I must look to my own sanctification. I must have the Mass, the sacraments, and the rest. And so it begins.