This Moment is Overdue. As bad as 2020 has been, all of these evils are merely the mature fruits of trees we have seen flourish for decades. One can even say this about the pandemic, for the harm of the virus itself is minuscule compared to destruction caused by the coordinated global response to it. We hate to see what has happened since this time last year, but arguably we are better off now that 2020 has stirred many of us from our relative complacency.
The only real surprise is that we made it to 2020 before seeing society on the verge of collapse. Over one hundred years ago, Our Lady of Fatima announced to the children that people “must not offend Our Lord any more, for He is already too much offended." For one hundred years, we have just continued to multiply offenses. In that sense, 2020 has been much more like a cancer diagnosis than the introduction of a carcinogen. The diagnosis is grim at this point. But if God has allowed us to see our terrible predicament, He will allow us to draw good from it if we accept His grace to do so.
Reaffirmation of Our Beliefs. For the vast majority of people, 2020 has challenged the assumptions they once considered most reliable about the world. Conversely, for Catholics who have seen the world drift away from God’s truth, the events of 2020 have reaffirmed our fundamental beliefs. We have seen false shepherds abandon their Catholic flocks, which validated the need to adhere to tradition. Thanks be to God, many of these abandoned faithful have now found Catholic tradition.
On a secular level, we have seen great divisions forming along familiar lines. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has described opposition between the children of light and the children of darkness. All of this is a visible manifestation of truths that our Faith has always taught.
We must continue to fight and pray for President Trump to prevail, but we know that God cares more about who resides in our hearts than who resides in the White House. All of the events of 2020 have served to strengthen us in our beliefs and we can have no doubt about what side we must choose in this spiritual battle.
Our Call to Action. By permitting our situation to become so dire, Our Lord has made it clear that we must take some action. But what should we do? We may think that we are powerless to respond in a way that will actually improve our situation. After all, if our enemies control everything and have planned this moment for decades, they would have anticipated every response we can muster. Indeed, it seems likely that they may ultimately use certain future protests to justify further suppression of our religion.
The only response that our enemies cannot control happens to be the only response that will work: we must turn to God in the way that He has shown us through the centuries. “If God be for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31).
In ages of greater religious fervor, surely we would look to the example of Ninive:
And Jonas began to enter into the city one day’s journey: and he cried, and said: Yet, forty days, and Ninive shall be destroyed. And the men of Ninive believed in God: and they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least”
And the king of Ninive called his people to penance, saying that “every one turn from his evil way, and from the iniquity that is in their hands.”
“Who can tell if God will turn and forgive: and will turn away from his fierce anger, and we shall not perish?”
“And God saw their works, that they were turned away from their evil way: and God had mercy with regard to the evil which He had said that He would do to them, and He did it not.” (Jonas, 3:4-10)
God spared Ninive because the people did penance and reformed their lives. God may not have given us a Jonas to proclaim that all will be destroyed, but He has allowed us to see it with our own eyes. God may not have given us a Jonas to proclaim the need for prayer and penance, but He has allowed us to see it, unmistakably, with the eyes of our Faith.
We should also recall the inability of Our Lord’s disciples to cure a certain man. When they asked Jesus why they could not cast out the devil, Our Lord replied:
“Because of your unbelief. For, amen I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, remove hence hither, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you. But this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting.”
Unless we are saving the prayer and fasting for worse devils ahead, now appears to be the right time to employ the most efficacious weapons we have. And, as the most important sacrifice we can make is often that of relinquishing our own will to God, we can resolve to do all that God wants us to do to become the salt of the earth, the light of the world. As we read in Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence, therein lies our best hope for speedy victory and peace:
The more we submit to God’s will, the more He tries to meet our wishes. It would seem that as soon as we make it our sole aim to obey Him, He on His part does His best to try to please us. Not only does He answer our prayers but He even forestalls them by granting the very desires we have endeavored to stifle in our hearts in order to please Him, and granting them in a measure we had never imagined.”
2020 has been so awful that it has backed us into a corner. The only way to survive is also the only way we can find peace in this life and assure our salvation: we must turn unreservedly to God. If we want to contribute to God’s ultimate victory, we must be good soldiers and let Him lead us. We must fight every battle as best we can, but should not be discouraged by the apparent triumphs of the enemies. Our comfort will come from the fact that God wins and we have done all in our power to fight for Him.
God is Good. God is good and He cannot be outdone in generosity. If we neglect His grace at this point we will deserve to perish. But if we turn to Him and give ourselves entirely to Him, He will save us. Thomas a Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ offers a reflection that lights the way for us today:
“O Lord, what is the trust that I can have in this life, or what is my greatest solace among all things under heaven? . . . Man seeks what is his, but You seek my salvation and profit and turn all things to the best for me. If You send temptations and other adversities, You order all for my profit, for You are accustomed to test your chosen people in a thousand ways. And in such testing You are no less to be glorified and praised than if You had filled your people with heavenly comfort. In You, therefore, Lord, I put my trust, and in You I bear patiently all my adversities, for without You I find nothing but instability and folly. I see well that a multitude of worldly friends is of no profit to me, that strong helpers can avail nothing, nor wise counselors give profitable counsel, nor skillful teachers give consolation, nor riches deliver in time of need, nor secret place in any way defend, if You, Lord, do not assist, help, comfort, counsel, instruct, and defend. Everything that seems to be ordained to man’s solace in this world is worth nothing if You are absent; nor may all these things bring any man to true happiness, for You, Lord, are the end of all good things. You are the sublimity of life, the profound wisdom of everything that is in heaven and on earth, and so, to trust in You above all things is the greatest comfort to all Your servants.”
Loving parents often go to great lengths to help their children make the right decision. God, our most loving Father, has shown us the punishment that awaits if we fail to accept His grace; He has cleared away so many obstacles to accepting His grace; and He has given us even more reason to yearn for the reward He promises to those who are faithful. What should we expect if we reject Him at this point?
We ought to be grateful to God for all that has befallen us in 2020. If we open our eyes and turn to God, this will truly be our greatest Thanksgiving. If we refuse, it may be our last.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!