by Fr Richard Heilman | August 9, 2018 12:54 PM
Peace Through Strength
The Challenge to Enter the Supernatural Life
“The Lord will give strength to his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.” -Psalm 29:11
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By Sam Guzman of Catholic Gentleman
The world is sick with sin. And not just the world, but the Church.
As the culture around us seems unhinged right now, it is sad to say, there is indeed wickedness in high places in our own Church. Souls are being lost and lives destroyed. We should never simply shrug and turn a blind eye toward evil, as if the fact that it has always existed makes it any less appalling or egregious. The sooner we acknowledge the dark reality of our situation, the sooner we can begin to remedy it.
But how are we to remedy such systemic corruption? As laity, we have no ecclesiastical power. We cannot issue edicts or command a reform of faith, morals, or discipline. We cannot punish even one evil-doer. Yet, we do have authentic reform within our power—the ability to reform our own hearts.
We must realize that the crisis through which we are living is not merely a matter of depraved priests or duplicitous bishops. “We are wrestling not against blood and flesh,” St. Paul tells us, “but against the Archons, against the Powers, against the Cosmic Rulers of this Darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the celestial places.”
Such spiritual enemies cannot merely be met with remedies of human devising, no matter how necessary they may be. They must rather be combatted with spiritual weapons. And what is the most potent of these?
The chief remedy is everywhere and always repentance. Throughout scripture, and indeed this history of the Church, the clear answer to great evil is always prayer and penance—true conversion of heart.
The people of Nineveh wept, tore their clothes, and covered themselves in ashes when rebuked by the prophet Jonah. The people of Israel, too, fasted and cried out in repentance when they had abandoned their God and had been disciplined by him. And even in more recent times, the people of France built the great church of the Sacred Heart as a national sign of contrition and repentance after chastisement from God.
We too must do penance. We must reject the temptation to activism, as though mere busyness could save us. Instead, we must feel true sorrow about the state of things, and indeed our complicity, albeit unconscious, in allowing them to arrive at this point.
We must no longer blithely pretend that everything is alright, for such is a false peace. We must acknowledge the sins of the Church and allow them to break our hearts as they break Christ’s. We must feel the full weight and horror of the evil engulfing us—and realize that such wickedness lives not just in others, but in our own hearts. We must cry out like the psalmist David, “Here, O God, is my sacrifice, a broken spirit; a heart that is humbled and contrite thou, O God, wilt never disdain.”
Now is the Day of Salvation
At any time, God can bring true restoration and healing to his Church. He has shown that time and again through the ages. But it is also a fact of history that God rarely acts without the sincere contrition of his people.
Many of us are justifiably angered by the systemic evil in the Church. And yet if we examine our own hearts, we will find them filled with unforgiveness, bitterness, lust, envy, judgement, greed, hatred, materialism, ambition—and at the very least a great deal of worldliness and love of comfort.
The Church is the Lord’s. He will judge and punish every wicked and complicit prelate, every false shepherd that does not sincerely repent. And in that day, it would have been better for them to have never been born.
As for us, let us strive to root out the evil in our hearts. Let us cry out to God with tears of sorrow for our sins, the sins of the world, and the sins of his Church. Let us pray and sacrifice for the salvation of all.
He alone can heal and save us. Could it be that he is waiting for you?
As we continue this “Peace through Strength Challenge,” we want to pledge to adhere to (restore?) the best foundational practices of an authentically strong Catholic. If you obey Christ and His Church 100% (remain loyal), and practice the following (All, not most or some), you will be strong in God’s supernatural grace, and you will live in peace. You’ll notice we are not addressing such things as tithing, volunteering and catechesis. Why? Because all of these will follow as we are filled with supernatural grace. Grace fills us with a hunger for “the more” of knowing and pleasing God.
Make a plan: Ask yourself, “Can I embrace all of these now? Or, do I embrace some, and add others over time?” Either way, you’ll want to make these foundational practices a regular habit in order to be a “strong Catholic.”
Support System: You may want to create or join a “Peace Through Strength Squad” of 3+ people. Maybe create a Facebook group. Also, try to join together with an “Accountability Buddy.”
Commit to these practices from July 16 – October 7.
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