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Ten Ways to Overcome These Evil Days and Die a Catholic

Scalfari. Pachamama. The pope’s apology. Ending priestly celibacy. “Deaconesses.” The Amazon Synod has come and gone, and the results are already horrifying. Remember to mark your calendars for fasting and prayers of reparation on Saturday, Nov. 9 and Holy Communion on Sunday. This article is meant to be one answer to despairing souls asking what to do next.

  1. Look to the saints, and thank God He has counted you worthy of spiritual combat.

Our fathers faced armies, tortures, and death for the Faith, and they won the victory because the Faith survived. In the midst of this terrible crisis, hear the words of St. Paul and all the saints: you have not yet resisted unto blood (Heb. 12:4). The saints and angels are fighting in Heaven for us, obtaining for us all the graces to conquer as they did. Let us take up the mantle of the saints willing to suffer for the Faith.

More than that, they rejoiced to suffer for the Faith. As it is written, they rejoiced that they were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus (Acts 5:41). Why did they rejoice?

My brethren, count it all joy, when you shall fall into divers temptations: Knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience. And patience hath a perfect work: that you may be perfect and entire, failing in nothing (Jas. 1:2–4).

Suffering cleanses us from attachments to creatures in order to adhere to Jesus Christ alone. No one can achieve holiness without suffering. This suffering is yours to take to advance in holiness. Give thanks to God that He has counted you worthy of spiritual combat. As St. Paul says:

By faith [they] conquered kingdoms, wrought justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, recovered strength from weakness, became valiant in battle, put to flight the armies of foreigners:  Women received their dead raised to life again. But others were racked, not accepting deliverance, that they might find a better resurrection. And others had trial of mockeries and stripes, moreover also of bands and prisons.  They were stoned, they were cut asunder, they were tempted, they were put to death by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being in want, distressed, afflicted:  Of whom the world was not worthy; wandering in deserts, in mountains, and in dens, and in caves of the earth.  And all these being approved by the testimony of faith, received not the promise;  God providing some better thing for us, that they should not be perfected without us (Heb. 11:33–40)

Take up the cross as our fathers did and accept the suffering of this crisis from the hand of Almighty God. A heavy cross has been ordained for us, brethren. But, as with the saints, so has a great victory.

  1. Seriously consider your news and social media intake.

St. Thomas says the vice of curiosity is the consumption of useless or vain knowledge that detracts from fulfilling the duties of our state in life (ST II-II q167 a1). Consider the state of your soul. Are you overcoming your sin? Are you acquiring virtue? Or are you filled with anxiety or vexation at every bit of news coming out of the Vatican?

If consumption of news is leading you to anxiety, despair, or neglect of your duties, cut back. Cut it out all together if necessary. Refuse slavery to social media. Focus on your soul and your family. If you are not actively saving your soul and the souls of your family members, you are actively falling into Hell. Set limits for yourself. Renew your spiritual disciplines.

  1. Remember, remember the four last things.

Without a doubt, it is true: remembrance of death is victory over every sin. This includes the sin of despair. We live in evil times, but consider this truth: we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (II Cor. 5:10). St. Benedict lists among his “Tools of Good Works”:

To fear the day of judgment.
To be in dread of hell.
To desire eternal life with all spiritual longing.
To keep death before one’s eyes daily. [1]

Consider your end and hope for eternal life. It was this hope that animated the spirit of St. Joan of Arc as the flames began to scorch her body. It was this hope that made St. Thomas More look to the heavens before the axe stroke took his head. Our fathers burned with this hope when they left their families to liberate the holy land from the Muhammadan. In nothing I shall be confounded, but with all confidence, as always, so now also shall Christ be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death (Phil. 1:20).

  1. Study the virtues and vices from St. Thomas and pursue the arduous good.

These evil days of suffering are the glorious days of virtue. In them the holiness of the saints is born. Take up the Summa and consider the many virtues. Consider the virtue of patience: the power to suffer evils well and calmly face adversities (ST II-II q136). Consider the vice of effeminacy: a reluctance to suffer due to an attachment to pleasure (ST II-II q38). Conquer effeminacy and manfully take up this cross. This is your task and the burden placed upon your soul before death.

  1. Hope for victory in our children.

As we said, our fathers gained the victory because the Faith outlived their executioners. The Faith outlived the pagan Roman Empire. It outlived the Muhammadans in Spain and at Lepanto and Vienna. It outlived the Japanese persecution. You have the Faith because our fathers died to pass it down to you. In the same way, see the victory in your children. Raise them and pass down the Sacred Tradition into their hands. Raise them to take up their cross and overcome through Jesus Christ. Perhaps their children, or their children’s children will see the liberty and exaltation of Holy Mother Church. Without any doubt, this triumph will come in time. And every soul will see the coming of Christ in glory. In that hour, all flesh shall bend the knee.

  1. Commit to daily mental prayer, the rosary, Adoration.

Mental prayer is the second level in the nine levels of prayer. St. Alphonsus recommends at least fifteen minutes of mental prayer each day [2]. Mental prayer is the gateway into all the higher forms of prayer and a bedrock foundation to advancing in holiness. Why is this? Because the will follows the intellect (ST I q82 a3). In the same way as focusing your mind on every evil thing in the world turns you to despair, turning your intellect to the goodness of God and His truth turns your will to desire the sufferings of the cross and His glory. This is not burying your head in the sand. It is seeing reality in the light of truth.

The best primer for mental prayer is from St. Francis de Sales. I recommend using his meditations or trying the School of Jesus Christ Crucified by Fr. Ignatius, both of which are free from the iPieta app.

Along with mental prayer by itself, the Holy rosary forms one part vocal prayer and one part mental. Pray your rosary every day. If you are already an expert at a daily rosary, time to commit to a full rosary every day: the fifteen-decade Rosary, Mary’s Psalter. Pray one third in the morning, one third on your commute, and one third on your way home.

Take refuge with the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Read through the hymn Lauda Sion and ask for greater faith:

Jesu, shepherd of the sheep:
Thou thy flock in safety keep,
Living bread, thy life supply:
Strengthen us, or else we die,
Fill us with celestial grace.

  1. Fast every week.

Fasting curbs the excesses of the concupiscible appetite, cleansing the soul from attachments to pleasure and gaining discipline in suffering. Fasting is essential for advancing in the spiritual life. First, we fast to offer reparation for our sins and curb our passions. Then, in charity, we offer fasting for the sins of others: our spouse, our children, corrupt clergy. This is the way of the saints.

Some practical tips: Start small, and build slowly. If you aren’t already, cut out meat on Fridays. Once you have that down over a period of months, then start skipping breakfast. The Devil may try to trick you into taking on far more fasting that you are ready for and then bring this good habit to a grinding halt after two weeks. Instead, form the habit slowly. When Lent comes around, take on a further fasting discipline and build this every year until you can fast as our fathers did.

  1. Read and re-read the spiritual classics.

Take up the Imitation and do what it says. Read Introduction to the Devout Life, Spiritual Combat, and the lesser known (but not less influential) Conferences and Institutes. These classic texts have inspired countless saints in times of great evil and bloodshed. If you have not read any of these works, the time has come.

  1. Read the Holy Scriptures and pray the Psalter.

The graces afforded to the pious soul from devout reading of Holy Scripture cannot be overstated. Tragically, many Catholics still have not availed themselves to this treasury of graces, even after the Church promoted Scripture reading three hundred years before Vatican II.

Most especially, the Holy Bible contains the Church’s prayer book: the Holy Psalter. Unlike any other prayer we can pray, the Psalms and other Scripture prayers are uniquely inspired by the Holy Ghost. Moreover, they give words to souls in our evil times:

The enemy hath persecuted my soul: he hath brought down my life to the earth. He hath made me to dwell in darkness as those that have been dead of old: and my spirit is in anguish within me: my heart within me is troubled (Ps. 142:3)

Thou shalt arise and have mercy on Sion: for it is time to have mercy on it, for the time is come (Ps. 101:14)

They have spoken vain things every one to his neighbour: with deceitful lips, and with a double heart have they spoken. By reason of the misery of the needy, and the groans of the poor, now will I arise, saith the Lord. I will set him in safety; I will deal confidently in his regard (Ps. 11:3, 6)

  1. Organize and promote reparation, and consider active resistance.

It is with good reason that I mention these things as the final step. It is only after a soul has deeply grounded an interior life in Christ that these external actions should be pursued. Do not be deceived. You must attend to your soul first. You need not have overcome every mortal sin, but your active life must flow directly from your interior life such that your active life does not hinder but rather increases your zeal for the interior [3].

Many different solutions to this crisis have been and will be discussed. Every bishop must take action. The laity must devote themselves to offering and promoting penance and reparation. Active resistance is next. What will you do if your bishop wants to give Confirmation to your children with “deaconesses”? What will you do if your bishop puts a Pachamama idol in the cathedral? Start talking these things over with your spouse and close friends now. Let us take for our example the men of God who cleansed the temple in Rome and rise to the fight. Expect the Lord, do manfully, and let thy heart take courage, and wait thou for the Lord (Ps. 26:14).

[1] Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter IV

[2] Sermon on the Fourth Sunday of Advent

[3] The classic text on the “heresy of activism” is Chautard’s The Soul of the Apostolate.

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