As the news shows scenes of disrespect for law, private property, and due process, reason itself seems to be going up in flames. Which is why St. John Paul II wrote his prophetic encyclical Faith and Reason—he saw the divorce from reason coming in the Western world. G.K. Chesterton saw it coming more than a century ago.
But even in their time, it was nothing new. In the garden of Eden, Eve decided she’d rather follow a lie than the truth. And at the other end of the Bible, in Revelation 3:2, Our Lord warns the loose-living church at Sardis to “be watchful and strengthen what is left.”
That’s still some good advice. Because reasonable people are still reasonable, and there are a lot of them. Generous and godly people are still generous, and there are a lot of them. They’re the drivers who motion us to go first at a 4-way stop. They’re the full-cart shoppers who tell us to go ahead because we have only two items to check out. They’re the friends who encourage and support us in our sometimes-wavy path to union with God.
This is what is left: we are still accompanied by people who live the virtues of respect, generosity, selflessness—in a word, love. This is “what is left,” and this is what Our Lord is asking the church at Sardis, and us, to strengthen.
Here are three ideas. (Hint: it starts with ourselves.)
“We must go into the society — darkened, corrupted, and depraved — as children of light. We must be witnesses to this beautiful light of Jesus, this light of truth, justice, and purity. First, we must begin in our own hearts.” — Ven. Al Schwartz
Pray. It’s the only way to be sure we remain part of “what is left” and avoid being among those who are driven by anger. It’s the only way to keep our focus on God instead of on those who hate what God loves. And that includes praying for the conversion of God’s enemies, and of our poor hearts.
“Troubles melt sway before a fervent prayer like snow before the sun.” — St John Vianney
Confess. When we see what we love being attacked, we’re tempted to sinful anger, which cannot end well. In fact, it makes us part of the problem. The solution is to cultivate purity of heart, which we can obtain only by the grace of the Sacraments.
“Confession is an act of honesty and courage – an act of entrusting ourselves, beyond sin, to the mercy of a loving and forgiving God.” — St. John Paul II
Stay encouraged. St. Paul writes, “every day…keep encouraging one another” (Heb 3:13). In this time of isolation and turmoil, we need to follow Paul’s advice by keeping up our contact with those who encourage us in the faith. Not only online videos and conferences, which are great, but person-to-person contact with faithful Catholics who help us grow in our love of God. If you don’t have that already in your life, you may benefit by what I’m offering right now: click here to learn more.
Finally, when we’re running short on hope, we can drink in these words of St. Josemaria Escriva:
“Remember this and never forget it: even if it should seem at times that everything is collapsing, nothing is collapsing at all, because God doesn’t lose battles.”
And isn’t that what we’re celebrating in this Easter season?