How Do We Find The Will Power To Stay On The Narrow Path?
My Own Struggle
As I’ve been mulling over some ideas for my next blog post (I’ve been suffering from writer’s block recently), I realized just today that there are surely not a lack of things I could write about. Rather, I’ve had trouble finding the inspiration to write about them. Lately, there have been so many heavy-hitting problems coming up in Church news that I’ve been overwhelmed by the chaos of it all.
The Gospel according to Matthew certainly hits the nail on the head when it says, "For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few" (Matthew 7:14). But I almost wish that Matthew had mentioned that the path was hard because it was along the side of a mountain! It seems so easy to get on the right track only to fall off time and time again. Hopefully, we realize that part of our journey requires the ability to stay on track, learn the balancing act, and to keep forging ahead, no matter how many times we fall off this narrow and hard mountainside road we call life (and faith).
I’ve been in discussions, debates, and arguments about every topic under the sun recently, especially with regard to subjects like science, morality, history, and even philosophy. I’ve had to address anti-Church comments sprouted from sheer ignorance, like the incorrect notion that in the middle-ages, the Church kept her followers illiterate to prevent them from reading the bible (no historical basis for such a claim, and yes, some people think that). But I’ve also had to defend against things that I really shouldn’t need to address, like Catholic priests (James Martin, SJ in particular), who insist that homosexuality is more than just okay, it is normal. More than that, Fr. Martin had the audacity to say that many canonized saints were probably “LGBT.” I can’t even begin to express the vileness of a comment like that – out of the mouth of a Catholic priest, no less. But I’m digressing.
The fact is that there are just so many fronts that the traditional Catholic must fight on today. Whether discussing the problem of abortion, homosexuality, birth control, divorce, transgenderism, fornication, pornography and masturbation, human cloning, suicide and assisted suicide, drug abuse and alcohol abuse, moral relativism, paganism, poorly formed clergy and faithful, liturgical abuses, or any other current issue, we can’t seem to do enough to put a dent in what appears to be a losing battle between good and evil. From the perspective of the Catholic who is fighting on all fronts, it would appear that the world is being swallowed up whole by darkness and despair. And perhaps the most hopeless part of all of it is the fact that most people don’t even seem to be concerned. In fact, many people scoff at the notion of hell and some even jokingly admit they’re “probably going to hell.” This is not joke, but for some reason the healthy fear that so many people used to have is vanishing into thin air.
In all honestly, sometimes I find it hard to remain motivated… or hopeful.
There's More To All Of This
But then I remember a few things. I remember that scripture tells us, time and time again, that being faithful to the teachings of the Church will never be easy. Even in the “golden age” of Christianity, the last 1,000 years let's say, are we really to assume that every Christian person looked forward to giving up so many of the things that Christians are called to give up? Like lust and excessive gambling and drinking? Or what about abstinence from pleasant things like meats during certain days of the year and from sex? How about the ordained men and religious women who devoted themselves to a life of chastity, poverty, or obedience? Even in the heydays of Catholicism, suffering and sacrifice was all but a guarantee.
“And he that taketh not up his cross, and followeth me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for me, shall find it” (Matthew 10:38-39).
But Christians find joy in suffering well, they take pride in their God and they realize that our earthly lives are but the blink of an eye, and the thing they have to look forward to – an eternity with God – is a reward that is incomparable to any suffering or discomfort we could endure here on earth.
In addition to that, the scriptures remind us that things are undoubtedly expected to get worse before they get better. While Christians should always be striving to fight Satan and resist all of his evil works, we can certainly find some sort of comfort in knowing that Sacred Scripture’s story of God’s plan is unfolding, no matter how saddening or evil things appear to be. This means that, even when everything that the Church stands for is quite literally crumbling in the world around her, it’s nothing but a sign of something greater to come.
The Hope We Can Expect To Have
From that, we can muster up the courage (and even the joy) to continue working toward the mission of the Holy Church, and to help bring as many as possible to the light of Christ before everything is said and done. If nothing else, the fear and urgency that many of us are feeling can be a motivator go get off our bums and do something to help bring our lost brothers and sisters to God.
We can start today, right now. We can offer our prayer and condolences to those who have lost loved ones. We can offer direction to those young people who are convinced of a secular worldview. We can invite friends and family who have fallen away back to the Mass. We can put those who have been injured, whether spiritually, psychologically, physically, or in any other way, in touch with a spiritual counselor who can bring them back into the fold, remind them of their intrinsic value so that we can all share the experience of real healing power. Hope to the hopeless, fear to the fearless, and joy to the joyless.
So, although I’m not saying much in this post, I have found it to be not only therapeutic, but stimulating, to express my thoughts on the condition of the world. The reminder that everything is most certainly going according to plan, as far as God is concerned, is welcome and helpful. I hope that, if nothing else, I can convince my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to start mobilizing before it truly is too late.