By a Homeschooling Catholic Mom
I just finished Rod Dreher’s outstanding new book, Live Not by Lies. I knew his book discussed the coming soft-totalitarianism, and I was hoping for some ideas of HOW to react to such persecution coming from secular actors, whether the state, big corporations, or both. Dreher provides great encouragement, explaining that it is through small groups that the faith will survive. It was a network of anti-Communist actors, both religious and secular, that fought the state-sponsored totalitarianism. And it was small groups of faithful who encouraged one another and even spread the Gospel despite the oppression from the state. Dreher sees the need for small groups of believers to band together as western civilization crumbles into a post-Christian wasteland. Indeed, it seems that soft-totalitarianism that is overtaking our woke society and unless we provide our pinch of incense at the altars of anti-racism, the LGBTQ agenda, and Communism, we will be ostracized, persecuted, and intimidated.
However, after Pope Francis’ recent bombshell support of same-sex unions, I see that small groups will be necessary even to protect ourselves and our faith from an onslaught of heresy from the Vicar of Christ himself. My heart aches for the souls who are going to be misled by the heterodoxy coming from the Vatican. The parallel Churches spoken of by Archbishop Vigano are manifesting themselves before our very eyes. The faithful vs. the woke. The orthodox vs. the heterodox. And it is devastating.
I am just a regular mom with regular kids. We attend a regular parish, and live regular lives (the TLM is over 2 hours away, my husband does not want to drive that far, and I’m under his headship, so don’t start). But I cannot stand by and watch people be led astray by secular wokesters. And I will definitely not allow my children to be swept into hell by following the addled words of the Holy Father, Mr. ¡Hagan lío! himself. The Truth is the Truth, even if the Pope himself is trying to cover it up.
The only way out of this crisis is through and the only way we will get through with our faith intact is to gain strength through prayer and fasting and, while we are able, through the Sacraments. But we cannot go it alone. Social media was already doing a fantastic job atomizing our culture. COVID, with its lockdowns and isolation, has accelerated the atomization. And by separating the faithful from each other and from faithful clergy, the shutdown of public Masses further exacerbated the situation. It is up to us to form our own small groups to help one another through encouragement, prayer, and fellowship. That is how we will preserve and hand down our faith to our children. But how do we begin?
During a crisis in our parish, a new family asked our family to join them for a weekly Rosary at our church for the intentions of our priests. Who can resist praying in a group for the intentions of a holy priest? Not us. So, week-after-week, our families prayed together. Our family was unschooled in the Rosary, but we wanted to learn. As the weeks passed, we got the rhythm of the Rosary. We saw kids behaving well, leading decades, and praying attentively. We also saw kids yell, wiggle, and complain. But we all prayed the Rosary anyway. Eventually after praying weekly all together, my husband had the confidence to lead our own family. Praying the Rosary has become an unshakable nightly routine in our home and allowed a beautiful friendship to form. This would not have happened without our friends reaching out to us to gently show us the beauty of our Catholic faith.
Inviting our family to pray with theirs took courage. It also took effort for each family to load up the van with all the kids and travel to the church once per week to pray together. But the gains for our family have been immeasurable. From praying together to learning to sing the Salve Regina, our family was blessed by the generosity of our friends.
Knowing the impact that our friends had on our family has given our family the confidence to reach out to others. I lament that we did not capitalize on this example when COVID struck. But I think we were all so motivated to #flattenthecurve that we wanted to obey civil authorities, stay home – stay safe, and not interact with others.
But now that the curve has been flattened, we need to reach out to those around us. We must form Rosary groups, make and eat dinner together, let our children play, and build one another up in our faith. Regular meetings to read and discuss the scriptures in preparation for Holy Mass, Bible studies, catechism lessons can follow football, soccer, and ultimate frisbee. This is how we combat atomization. This is how we spread the faith.
And make no mistake, as Dreher emphasizes, these small groups need to be in-person. If the suppression of the New York Post story has taught us anything, it is that our time on the internet is limited. When we are de-platformed, our twitter accounts suspended, and our websites blocked, we must have in-person small groups to help one another survive.
Reaching out to others takes courage. We will be rejected. Plans will fall through. Kids will fight. Human relationships are messy, but the mess is worth the effort to build up a community where we are. We cannot control the Holy Father and we cannot ensure every priest is communicating the faith properly. However, we can choose the environment in which we raise our children in the faith, while reaching out to those around us. We are the hands and feet of Our Lord. I do not have the platform to reach everyone in the world with the truth of the Gospel, but I can reach out to those in my community. I can evangelize those who are in front of me.
We will pray for our chaos-creating Holy Father, but his flip comments on airplanes or in a documentary do not define our faith. He can sow confusion, but he cannot change doctrine. It is my job to help my family and those around me to internalize that fact, to not despair, and to fight for our faith, even if it is messy. Our very survival depends on it.