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How Catholics Can Live Their Faith More Fully in the Current Crisis

Recently a university graduate asked me what he could do to live out his Catholic faith more fully during the current crisis in the Church, and how he could better share this faith with others, in spite of the many obstacles that surround us.

The first and most important thing is simply to live the faith with all of the resources it places at our disposal! Concretely, this means: staying close to Our Lord by means of the sacraments, His greatest gifts to us in our pilgrimage to heaven; staying close to Our Lady by praying her Rosary, which is her greatest gift to us in this vale of tears; wearing and using sacramentals like blessed rosary beads, holy water, the brown scapular, the St. Benedict medal; daily prayer (private and liturgical); participation in the Holy Mass and recitation of some part of the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours; spiritual reading or lectio divina; fasting and abstinence; almsgiving.

We may not be able to take advantage of all of these things every day, and, moreover, we should always do what is in keeping with our state in life; but we can and indeed must build a personal regimen, somewhat like a monastic horarium or schedule, by which we give structure and purposefulness to our days. “The life of man upon earth is a warfare,” as the Book of Job tells us, and we need to be equipped to fight. All masters of the spiritual life concur that without an intentional daily plan, we will not achieve holiness. We would be like soldiers who, surrounded by armor and weapons, never take them up, and therefore make themselves vulnerable and incompetent in battle.

The restoration of the Church, as Dr. John Rao wrote,

will only happen if we reject the temptation to despair; the temptation to flee from a battle that grows more and more unseemly as the years go by. … It will only happen if we continue to study our Faith more deeply, practice it more fervently, and … call unceasingly upon the aid of the truly living help of Christians: Mary and the saints in heaven.

A pacifistic age like ours shies away from such military imagery. Is it still appropriate?, we wonder. Apart from the fact that Scripture is full of it—enough of a reason to retain it—we would do well to remember that the sacrament of Confirmation has been understood, since ancient times, as the sacrament that strengthens us for confronting the world and its prince, the devil, and triumphing over every power that sets itself against Christ the King. We are enrolled in His army by the holy chrism. If we are attacked, the Spirit is at hand to fortify us; if we are wounded or troubled, the Spirit comforts us; if we grow weary, the Spirit is ready to sustain and energize us; if we make use of His strength, the Spirit will crown us with victory.

But the full answer to my inquirer’s question has to go beyond the individual. As political and social animals, we need one another, and we need to form intentional communities. Thus, to take an example, young professionals should create social opportunities for themselves, whether a monthly book club with dinner; a time for conversation at the local café every other weekend; watching a good artistic movie, followed by a discussion of it; an art class taken together on the weekend; ballroom dancing; a day of recollection led by a priest; a visit to a pumpkin farm in the autumn; horseback riding; playing board games or sports with other Catholics, with some good beer to top it off. (Although I haven’t read it, my wife tells me that a new book from Ignatius Press, which she has read, is full of ideas along these lines: Building the Benedict Option: A Guide to Gathering Two or Three Together in His Name.)

These kinds of social contacts are crucial to passing on the Faith as a way of life and not just a set of intellectual propositions or even a set of liturgical practices, as important as doctrine and liturgy are.

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