We are advised by St. Peter in the Epistle of today's Mass to be "prudent and watchful in prayers." Why should we be prudent and watchful in prayers? One good reason that should convince all of us is to look at the way the passage actually begins: "The end of all things is at hand. Be prudent therefore and watchful in prayers" (1 Pet.4:6,7). A sobering thought!
But we should be prudent and watchful in prayers for other good reasons. "Without Me you can do nothing," says Our Lord (Jn.15:5). We are incapable of any good, on the supernatural level, without His grace and His special gifts. These we receive through prayer and the Sacraments, and through the Holy Ghost, Whose special gifts we need especially in difficult times such as these. We need "the strength that God furnishes" (1 Pet.4:11).
Unless you are an angel in disguise, you have a difficult time avoiding the tricks of the devil and keeping God's Commandments. Believers must pray without ceasing for the graces they need to escape Hell and attain eternal life. The problem is that our human nature is wounded because of Original Sin. Our wills are weakened and our minds are darkened, not so much with regard to the things of this world, since marvelous things have been achieved by human beings through science, technology and the arts, but particularly with regard to spiritual things. St. Paul says that the natural man has no understanding of the spiritual: "For the doctrine of the cross is foolishness to those who perish, but to those who are saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God" (1Cor.1:18).
The secular humanists who control just about everything these days teach that human nature is good just as it is. There is no such a thing as Original Sin, so who needs God? We are all capable of good and of fulfilling the purpose of our lives, whatever they think that might be.
The new theology teaches what amounts to the same thing. Human nature was healed by Christ even from the moment of the Incarnation, so that all human beings are capable of the meritorious deeds which will bring them eventually to the "Common Homeland." In the meantime, through dialogue, we can build a "civilization of love" and a new peaceful world.
Either way, the end result is that human beings grow overconfident of their own ability to get the job done, because they already have the resources they need within themselves. Who then needs to pray? What happens is spiritual stagnation. We find it more and more difficult to keep the Commandments, and eventually we cease caring.
The New Mass and the new Sacraments cannot sustain the spiritual life of Catholics. What happens to the people when even the spiritual life of the priest suffers greatly? There are still good and sincere men in the (new) priesthood, but the New Mass is not spiritually nourishing, and the new "Divine Office," which the priest should pray each day, has been greatly shortened and weakened, and many priests have given it up altogether. Pray for these poor men. They are sent to seminars and workshops by their bishops, where they are fed nothing but Modernist poison. Without "the strength that God furnishes" it is only a matter of time before the priest is on his way to Hell, dragging many souls along with him. Sr. Lucy of Fatima once remarked that the Church is suffering from a "diabolical disorientation," adding that the problem with the priests is that they have forgotten how to pray.
What happens to the individual Christian who is not "prudent and watchful in prayers" happens on a grand scale to the whole of society. Without Christ the King and a solid foundation in Christian principles, the nations are on the road to perdition, quickly sliding to their doom.
Certain "Catholic" politicians may think they can be "personally opposed" to abortion yet support woman's choice to kill the child in her womb, because the law of the land allows it, and we have the "separation of church and state." They may think the same way regarding the right to marriage of same-sex couples. If the law allows it, then people have a "right" to turn their backs on God and commit the most inhuman and unnatural crimes. But human agencies are not free to pass laws which contradict God's laws, which are "written in the hearts of men." Catastrophe befalls civilizations which go the way of Sodom and Gomorrah. "Once great America" is speeding headlong down that same path.
"According to St. Thomas, the natural law is 'nothing else than the rational creature's participation in the eternal law' (I-II, Q. xciv)… In the very constitution of his nature, he (man)… has a law laid down for him, reflecting that ordination and direction of all things, which is the eternal law. The rule, then, which God has prescribed for our conduct, is found in our nature itself. Those actions which conform with its tendencies, lead to our destined end, and are thereby constituted right and morally good; those at variance with our nature are wrong and immoral" (Natural Law, The Catholic Encyclopedia).
Yet all may not be lost if we turn to God with repentant hearts. Jesus in the Gospel speaks of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of truth, Whom He will send from the Father. As we approach Pentecost we must call upon this same Holy Spirit to pour out His gifts upon us, especially the gift of prayer. This is so important that the Church prays a novena to the Holy Ghost beginning on the Ascension Thursday, and then celebrates Pentecost for a whole week (according to the Traditional Calendar), praying each day for the gifts of Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety, and Fear of the Lord. The words of Dom Gueranger should impress upon our minds the importance of the Holy Spirit, Who prays within the heart of the Church, and Whose presence is her very life:
"Now it is in the holy Church that this divine Spirit dwells. He came down to her as an impetuous wind, and manifested Himself to her under the expressive symbol of tongues of fire. Ever since that day of Pentecost, He has dwelt in this His favored bride. He is the principle of everything that is in her. He it is that prompts her prayers, her desires, her canticles of praise, her enthusiasm, and even her mourning. Hence her prayer is as uninterrupted as her existence. Day and night is her voice sounding sweetly in the ear of her divine Spouse, and her words are ever finding a welcome in His heart" (Dom Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year, preface).
Pray often with the Church, "Come, Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love."