Monday, March 21, 2016

In Times of Trouble, Remember The Lord

Way of the wickedSee how the wicked string their bows, fit their arrows to the string
to shoot from the shadows at the upright of heart
[Psalm 11:2]

It is easy to feel depressed or discouraged about the state of the world. Whether it is news of the persecutions of Christians overseas, news of injustices by our government against the faithful of the Church, or the moral quagmire of the 2016 election season, it is easy to see all of the negative actions at work against us and fear we will be overcome by evil. It seems even more discouraging to see our fellow Catholics behaving with hostility when their views on what should be done differ from ours. It’s also a temptation for us to find a scapegoat when things go wrong. The Pope should have said more about X, the bishops shouldn’t talk about Y, it’s the fault of the modernists, the traditionalists, the establishment, the outsiders, the conservatives, the liberals, the Democrats, the Republicans...

Whew! We could pass out from lack of breath blaming the people who are responsible for the state of the Church, the world or the nation. But when we face these times of trouble, we need to make a decision. Will we focus on the troubles we perceive? Or will we focus on the One who is mightier than all of these troubles?

I am a person who likes to read the old Church documents and histories of the Church. As a result, I see other crises that the Church has faced. Other overt persecutions, legal injustices and the like. For example, I’m reading currently about the Arians and the emperors who supported them, riding roughshod over the Church. It’s a dark time when the orthodox Catholic faith was against the ropes. Bishops, and even Popes, were exiled for standing up for what was right.

But God protected His Church. No doubt the Church suffered at the hands of the unjust, and individuals were even martyred, but the Church is Catholic, not Arian.

I think this is what we need to remember. The Church is attacked. Some are martyred. Many face some level of hardship. Some abandon the faith for error. These are serious trials. Throughout these trials, some urge us to compromise a little bit. Others blame the shepherds for the fact that there is hardship. But these things always were a part of being faithful to Our Lord. Indeed, He promised us we would be hated for following Him.

So, when we struggle against injustice or feel outraged at the fellow Catholic who publicly causes scandal. we need to turn our eyes to Our Lord and trust that whatever He asks us to endure, it is not too much for us. We need to constantly look to what we do and set aside that which is unjust and that which distracts us from our true calling.

That doesn’t mean we need to be passive in the face of error or persecution. Obviously we are called to call the world to living in a way that is right. But we’re not God. We can’t bestow grace on anyone. So we might be attacked for our efforts. But we cannot become indifferent to suffering or embittered when we feel a lack of support. We must trust in God that whatever evils befall us, He is not on some coffee break and he is not ignorant of what is befalling us.

This is why, when we see (or experience) injustice, we must continue to have Trust in Our Lord, no matter how bleak it may seem to our eyes. Remember that to the Apostles, Good Friday looked like a day of defeat for the One they trusted. But it turned out that Our Lord achieved victory in a way far beyond what they could hope for.

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