“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers
Sometimes it is difficult to find much light as we try to see the future of the Church. It has already lost much of its earthly riches and power. It has long been divided and opposed. And its enemies lurk now from every side. Enemies that seem to grow stronger from day to day. Enemies that are now openly taking off their masks as they proudly attack what used to be an insurmountable foe.
Much of the Church had been asleep. We seem to have been complacent for far too long, underestimating the foes that continued to lure and deceive the world. Many have already fallen to the other side and instead of serving Him who is True, they now serve only their own lusts and worldly desires.
Some who have remained awake on the other hand have built walls around themselves, speaking only towards one another as though their gifts were meant to be hoarded for their own use alone. They would soon realize that whatever light they still possess would eventually grow dim if they do not learn the ways of mercy and compassion.
Still there are those who have grown desperate and afraid. They see no more how history can still unfold for the better. They almost lose the very foundations of their faith as they enter the dark night where they cannot see the face of Him they have professed to believe in.
They are like the disciples on the way to Emmaus. They talk about Jesus with heads bowed down saying, “we had hoped”. How painful indeed to have hoped and then to lose that hope!
How can they recover that which they have lost? Where can we look for light in a world that has grown dim? Where are the saints of long ago that can be as stars to guide us in this dark night of the world?
Wouldn’t it have been better if we have lived in another time when Christianity was yet honored and when the name of God has not yet been as blasphemed as it is now?
Yet as Tolkien wrote in the Fellowship of the Ring:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” says Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
We are living in such times. We are here and we must decide what it is we must do today.
Must we remain asleep? Must we walk with the world and fall where most have already fallen? Must we close ourselves off to safety? Must we grow desperate and afraid?
No matter how dark these times may be, we must hold on to the faith that keeps our souls alive. We must hold on to who we are, to the people God Himself has called us to be.
Do not think of impossibilities. Do not dwell on what you think you cannot do.
But arise from your slumber and let God strengthen you. Arise from your fears and let Him give you courage!
Let us be guided by what Pope Benedict XVI has said: “Be united, but not closed off. Be humble, but not fearful. Be simple, but not naive. Be thoughtful, but not complicated. Enter into dialogue with everyone, but remain yourselves.”
You have a role to play at this critical point in time, and refusing to do your part is not humility, but a lack of trust in the God who can do all things for those who believe.
“Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your weakness.” – Mother Teresa
Believe in God’s love. Be in awe once more with His power! Is He not the same God who created the heavens and who holds the universe in place? God is still the One who governs the world and He is the God of Justice and Love.
“See that I am God. See that I am in everything. See that I do everything. See that I have never stopped ordering my works, nor ever shall, eternally. See that I lead everything on to the conclusion I ordained for it before time began, by the same power, wisdom and love with which I made it. How can anything be amiss?” – Julian of Norwich
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore don’t be afraid. You are of more value than many sparrows. – Luke 12:7, WEB
While it is true that we cannot escape suffering while we are in the world, we are certain that God won’t allow any pain without seeing a far greater good that will come out from our trials. It is in the furnace that we are strengthened. It is in the cross that we become more like our Savior, and that we are given the honor of being One with Him in His Passion.
Take courage therefore and faint not! Our God is a God who has Compassion, and who knows what it is to suffer. Our God is the One who alone can heal us and lift us up whenever we fall.
…for no one loses in this battle but he who ceases to fight and to trust in God. He never ceases to help His soldiers, although He sometimes suffers them to be wounded . Only fight, for all depends on this. There are remedies at hand for healing the wounds of those warriors who look to God and to His help with confidence ; and, when they least expect it, they shall find their enemies dead. – The Spiritual Combat
“For, behold, the day comes, it burns as a furnace; and all the proud, and all who work wickedness, will be stubble; and the day that comes will burn them up,” says Yahweh of Armies, “that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But to you who fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in its wings. You will go out, and leap like calves of the stall. You shall tread down the wicked; for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I make,” says Yahweh of Armies. – Malachi 4:1-3, WEB
Never think that you are alone. God knows whom they are that are His, and as long as God is with you, no power on earth can ever overcome you.
As long as there is one faithful Catholic that remains, the Church remains. And not even the gates of hell can prevail against it! – Fulton Sheen
For God didn’t give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control. – 2 Timothy 1:7, WEB
Do not look at how vast the darkness is and how small you are. Look towards Him alone who can take you on eagle’s wings and turn even death into eternal life! For it is not by your own power that you can conquer the world, but by God’s Spirit. Fill yourself with Him, for He is the only One you can offer to the world that is badly in need of Light.
Will you allow yourself to be a vessel of that Light?
“If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire!” – Catherine of Siena
We cannot win the battle while we remain lukewarm in our faith. We can no longer be complacent while the enemy rages on. Much is required from every Catholic, especially from priests, nuns and religious. Much love, much sacrifice and much trust in God. The world needs to believe not only through our words but through the heroic witness of our lives.
“Dear friends, may no adversity paralyze you. Be afraid neither of the world, nor of the future, nor of your weakness. The Lord has allowed you to live in this moment of history so that, by your faith, his name will continue to resound throughout the world.” – Pope Benedict XVI
Again, fear not! Darkness may come, but it will pass. All that will remain is God’s Light. It’s just when it seems darkest that the brightest light is closest. It’s when all seems lost that everything will soon be found.
“Christianity, unlike any other religion in the world, begins with catastrophe and defeat. Sunshine religions and psychological inspirations collapse in calamity and wither in adversity. But the Life of the Founder of Christianity, having begun with the Cross, ends with the empty tomb and victory.” – Fulton J. Sheen, Life of Christ
“Faith, hope and charity go together. Hope is practised through the virtue of patience, which continues to do good even in the face of apparent failure, and through the virtue of humility, which accepts God’s mystery and trusts him even at times of darkness. Faith tells us that God has given his Son for our sakes and gives us the victorious certainty that it is really true: God is love! It thus transforms our impatience and our doubts into the sure hope that God holds the world in his hands and that, as the dramatic imagery of the end of the Book of Revelation points out, in spite of all darkness he ultimately triumphs in glory. Faith, which sees the love of God revealed in the pierced heart of Jesus on the Cross, gives rise to love. Love is the light—and in the end, the only light—that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working. Love is possible, and we are able to practise it because we are created in the image of God. – Pope Benedict XVI, God Is Love: Deus Caritas Est
Prayer of Pope Pius XII – Mary Our Strength
O Virgin, fair as the moon, delight of the angels and saints in heaven, grant that we may become like you and that our souls may receive a ray of your beauty, which does not decline with the years but shines forth into eternity. O Mary, sun of heaven, restore life where there is death and enlighten spirits where there is darkness. Turn your countenance to your children and radiate on us your light and your fervor. O Mary, powerful as an army, grant victory to our ranks. We are very weak and our enemy rages with uttermost conceit. But under your banner we are confident of overcoming him. Save us, O Mary, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, awe inspiring as an army set in battle array and sustained not by hatred but by the ardor of love.
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