In the midst of a spiritual direction conference last week, almost as an aside, my director said something that rang true then and has only grown in my mind:And the Lord God sent him out of the paradise of pleasure, to till the earth from which he was taken. And he cast out Adam; and placed before the paradise of pleasure Cherubims, and a flaming sword, turning every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. –Genesis 3: 23-24
The current situation in the Church is like paradise.
If you haven't been awake the last
We have the Mass. You, Joe Catholic, can go to Mass every single day. Even the timeless Mass is available to more people now than at any time since 1970. I, personally, can assist at the traditional Mass every single day. Do I? The Holy Sacrifice is effected every single day, all over the world. There are priests to celebrate it. Do I avail myself of this means of salvation?
“A day will come when the civilized world will deny its God, when the Church will doubt as Peter doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God. In our churches, Christians will search in vain for the red lamp where God awaits them. Like Mary Magdalene, weeping before the empty tomb, they will ask, ‘Where have they taken Him?’” -- Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, the future Pius XII, 1931.
We have confession and the availability of sacramental absolution. How precious is that? You, Joe Catholic, can go to confession at least every week, no matter where you live. There are still priests who can and will absolve you. You just have to ask. Do you? I can avail myself of a regularly scheduled confession time every single day in my Oratory. Every day. Any day. Do I make use of it?
We can speak to, encourage, and commiserate with other Catholics every single day. We can speak with our brethren throughout the world at any time. How great is that? Do we encourage each other? Do I encourage anyone? Not nearly enough, I know.
Yes, the obscuring of the faith and the confusing of the faithful at the highest levels of the hierarchy is flat-out wrong, troubling, and a portent of worse to come. But we have access to Denzinger, the Roman Catechism, books by saints, fathers and theologians at our very fingertips. I have an app on my phone that gives me a totally solid spiritual library-- greater than that which monasteries used to guard as precious treasures of civilizaton-- that I can access at will. This app contains the Bible, the Breviary, a comprehensive collection of traditional prayers, Aquinas, De Sales, a Kempis, and so much more. Do I read these things to my sanctification? Did I mention that I have the entire liturgy of the Church in an iphone app? It is incredible. These works are not just there, but they are searchable and extremely easy to use.
Do I use these resources for good?
We are free to do all these things. This is not 17th Century England, where we would be arrested and tortured for assisting at Mass, or for refusing heretical worship. This may be the case in the future-- maybe the very, very near future-- but not now. Do we understand how good we have it? All the weak and faithless members of God's Holy Church do not prevent us from being Catholic.
People, this is Shangri-La.
Yes, we will likely look back on this time, with the clouds gathering, as a period of glory. We have the total freedom to practice our faith and to fortify us for hard times. Let's do just that. Man up. Stay close to the Sacraments. Stay close to Mary and the saints. Stay confessed. And let us be grateful.
Heads up-- we are made for Christ, and He will sustain us.
Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall put you to death: and you shall be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be scandalized: and shall betray one another: and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall seduce many. And because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold. But he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved. – Matthew 24: 9-13