I am not an athletic person, by nature. However, I did once win a running race. Nothing significant or to celebrate about widely, just an intramural track & field course race. I am not gifted to be able to sprint fast enough to be a factor in a hundred meter or yard dash, nor have I the patience to train as necessary so as to be able to place in a 26-mile marathon. The 440-yard dash was perfect for my limited physical capabilities. Requiring only such speed as I could muster, and only such stamina as well, it was the one thing I had a chance at.
So I decided to try to win for once. I had never won anything in my whole life before, no matter how trivial, and I had no idea what it would be like, and I wanted to know, and badly enough to do what it took in this one particular 440-yard dash. The main other competitor was used to winning it and as intent as ever on winning it yet again this time, but my determination held out. I managed to stay ahead of him the whole time, but towards the end I began to suspect that he was just playing with me and would put on the speed in the last 50-100 yards or so.
By that point I was about to faint, but with the fiercest and most black-hearted determination I managed to cross the finish line first. For the rest of the hour I was the hero as many of my fellow students showed a genuinely caring side I had never seen before. As long as I didn't care, neither did they, but now when I actually cared enough to try and win, they were supportive. All of that was lost on me however because almost the moment I passed the finish line I limped to the grassy field (which the track surrounded) only a few feet away and collapsed, unable to rise for at least 20 minutes, and painful all over for the rest of the day.
You may wonder what this has to do with anything of a spiritual nature. There is a lesson here. If, upon arriving at that finish line, someone had told me that I now had yet another 440 yards I must run, there would have been no way of winning that race or even completing it. I was exhausted. For me, the last 50 yards or so had been completely anaerobic. There was no way that what I had done for that final span could possibly have been sustained, or even a more sedate pace returned to. All I could do was collapse. There were no options.
We Christians all long for the day when the Lord returns. With St. John the Revelator we pray, as he did at the close of his Scriptural Book of the Apocalypse, "Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus." When information is provided giving us some reason or hope for believing that we might actually live to see that momentous event, we cannot help but get excited about it. Certainly things look quite bad now, as bad as many can imagine, and so it seems only all the easier to believe that we are actually in the prophetical period known as the Great Apostasy.
Well, maybe. Then again, maybe not. Russia has not been consecrated to the Immaculate Heart, which in turn has not as yet triumphed. The period of peace which that is supposed to usher in obviously has not come either. If Fatima is true and authentic as an apparition, then the end is not yet. Indeed I don't see how things could be fulfilled without some serious improvement in the Church's state of affairs. For one thing, we need a pope, who is willing to do it. For another, any triumph of the Immaculate Heart would have to entail some clear and significant restoration of all things in Christ, and that would have to include a restoration of the Church's unity and constitution.
Are things really so bad? I will grant that things are worse than in any other well-known period or place of history, but can things really get worse than they are now? Unfortunately there really is a tremendous amount of room for things to get significantly worse. It could happen in a short amount of time, possibly, but as yet that "back wall" of evil has been seldom approached, and then only by the fewest and most obscure of individuals. When society at large should reach such a point, then the end must come. Pray that the end comes earlier than that.
Off and on I have contemplated writing a short story portraying such a world that is truly apocalyptic in its utter moral degradation and persecution of what precious little of Christian honor could remain in what few devout souls could endure it. But I don't see how my descriptions could have any accuracy to them without being at best "gravely offensive to pious ears."
Yes, I would genuinely like the world to end soon, but frankly that's just not "in the cards," so to speak. And here comes the big rub: What if it doesn't end soon? What if the world goes on for another 500-1000 years, or so? Or more?
There are traditional-Catholic-at-hearts who stay home alone on Sundays. In some cases it merely is that the nearest center for anything Catholic (such as the Mass) may be hundreds of miles away, or even well nigh a thousand. Practically the whole world is fresh missionary territory again. For some unfortunate few, stranded so far from any bastion of the Faith no matter how small, attending a Mass may be a once in a lifetime event. This is understandable and of course no discredit to those in this circumstance.
But there are those who do have ready access to the traditional Mass and Sacraments, and yet refuse to avail themselves of it. To these people, no one is legitimate. They rule out "these guys" on the basis that they are heretics, "those guys" on the basis that they have no jurisdiction from the heretics, and "all the rest" on the basis of supposed scandals or imperfections or what not. For these people, there is no Church remaining in any hierarchical sense, only some few scattered lay believers having to live, spiritually speaking, like persons stranded alone on a desert island in the middle of the sea.
Being lay, they have no Sacraments other than Baptism and Marriage, which the Laity can do in emergencies. If the world were to end soon, then I suppose these types could think themselves vindicated. But if the world does not end soon, then, by the model of these persons, the church cannot last long either. Without the actual practice of it at least on rare or special occasions, how can they expect to pass it on to their children? Their children grow up knowing nothing but words said by their elders that mean nothing to them.
Sadly, these types even make the claim that there will be no Church left, even what few scattered lay believers of their sort as they might allow to exist for now, since Jesus once asked "When the Son of Man returns, will He find anything of the Faith?" to which they answer "no." As far as I am concerned, they might as well have said "not if I can help it!"
They count on the world ending soon, but if it lasts another 500 years, then at least 450 of those years will necessarily be churchless and the gates of hell really have prevailed. They have not prepared for the long term. These are not the only people who have failed to provide for the long term.
At the opposite extreme are those of the conservative Novus Ordo and the Indult who insist that "the pendulum" must begin swinging back to tradition. In their eagerness to believe this is finally happened, any and every remaining piece of "good news" they come across is seen as evidence that "the tide is turning" or "there's no need to jump ship; the captain is finally starting to turn this boat around," and so forth. And of course invariably what few good starts as may occur merely turn out to be mere false starts after all, with no follow-through.
So once again, they don't prepare for the long term, ecclesiastically speaking. But the Church cannot function this way indefinitely. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre consecrated four bishops to continue his work, the number of priests and laity present back then requiring the services of so many bishops. However, other than to consecrate Bishop Rangel for the Society of Saint John Vianney, the four SSPX bishops have consecrated no one. Now, with over 465 priests and some 5 to 10 million attached lay and religious faithful attached to them around the world, the SSPX has actually come to begin resisting its own growth, as four bishops are flatly far too few for such a huge and momentous crowd.
Again, they too seem to be supposing that the Vatican institution will one day come to its senses, welcome them back as it truly ought in all justice, and then things will be back to normal, or so they hope. This is as much a cop-out as hoping for Jesus to come back soon and so no long-term preparations are necessary. It is like my last 50 yards of running anaerobically, with nowhere near the oxygen coming into my system that I need to sustain such a speed for any further length of time.
From any standpoint, such a cop-out is inexcusable. Even if the world ends tomorrow, we have a duty to "Occupy 'till He comes." If, at His coming, we are not found by Him doing that duty, it will not go well with us in the Judgment. So what does it mean to "Occupy"? It means we do our part to sustain the Church in all her hierarchical fullness exactly as if you could know for a fact that the End will not come for another 10,000 years, and it is on your shoulders to see to it that the Church survives your own era.
Does that mean that I am calling for another lay conclave like that which gave us such "blessings" as Pius XIII or Michael I? Of course not! I know that many think the Church needs a Pope. Well, I will grant that we do, but far more immediately and urgently what the Church needs now is a Doctor. Both in the medical sense of someone who brings healing, who can close the wounds that divide us Catholics with the self-crucifying love of the Savior, and in the sense of that of the great Doctors of the Church, who can expound for all and to the satisfaction of all Catholics what the solution is.
A Pope, were that possible at this time, could simply decree everything thus and so, and it MUST be so. But as I say, it is impossible at this time for anyone to be so universally obeyed by all true Catholics, or even to possess that kind of universal jurisdiction a Pope must have. A Doctor on the other hand has to prove everything. The authoritativeness of what he has to say comes from showing why the things he says are intrinsically right. There is a difference between the authoritarian authority that comes with ecclesiastical rank, and that authoritative authority that requires no rank, but must prove its claims, claim by claim if necessary.
When the authoritarian form breaks down (as it has today), then it is the job of the authoritative form to work towards restoring the authoritarian form. For one thing that can be authoritatively established is that Christ founded His Church on the Rock of Peter, and His Church is therefore meant to be led by Peter, despite what usually brief periods it hasn't been.
For the layman, "Occupy" means support your traditional clergymen. Attend their Masses; receive all Sacraments from them as needed and appropriate to your place in life. And be obedient to him and to your bishop(s), the one(s) to whom your traditional priest answers to. For the unordained religious (monk & nun), "Occupy" means that you obey the superior of your order or his delegate. For priests and the nonepiscopal superiors of religious orders, that means that you obey your bishop(s).
You traditional bishops however have the heaviest obligation in this. You are morally obliged to recognize each other, to work together, and cooperate for the restoration of all things in Christ. To you falls the duty of making all successors to the original Apostles, the original princes of the Church. Learn to trust each other for I know you are all trustworthy. Lead the flock as a unified whole, that one day one man from among you can at last restore and enter the Seat of Peter.
And for every Catholic of whatever rank or lack thereof, "Occupy" means that we do our best to remain in a state of Grace, giving or obtaining the sacraments as applicable, confessing our sins and obtaining absolution, living as a Catholic ought, and worshipping as only a Catholic can. I know there are all manner of apostolates out there seeking our time. Many of us are spread quite thin just now. Perhaps just pick one, based on what is active in your area and within your best abilities, and focus on that. The advancement of the cause of Christ depends far more on who we are as sanctified souls than on what we can do in activities to "get attention" or protest this or fight that or what not.
Finally, and most of all, "Occupy" means to prepare yourselves for the long haul. Avoid trusting in any quick fix. The pendulum myth, the instant conclave, counting on the end of the world to come so very soon, and any other excuse not to be prepared for that long haul is itself inexcusable. It means to pace ourselves with a Catholic lifestyle that we can live with day in day out for the rest of our natural lives, and in a manner of speaking, for the rest of eternity.