I'm holding out in prayer that something good will come of the conflict in Iraq. A lot of us have been doing our share of reading lately emanating from the pen of Catholic writers whom we've come to trust. In the flurry of emotions and sentiments regarding the war in Iraq, certain writers have been putting facts in front of our faces dealing with Catholic teaching on points we must consider in this conflict. I admit, it's been a real trip for me, something like a roller-coaster ride. I love my country; I have relatives and dear friends who are politicians, young soldiers, and even a commanding general in the heart of this conflict. I want to see the Iraqi people free to live without tyranny.
What is really astounding to me through this whole scenario is the realization, once again, that most Catholics who have grown up in the last forty years (including myself) remain at a distinct disadvantage regarding the Church's perennial teaching on issues such as "just war." If traditional Catholic writers weren't bringing the Catholic perspective to this issue, it is doubtful that the average Catholic would ever get a glimpse of what the Church really teaches about it. This and so much more has been withheld from us by the Vatican II Church. Once again, a lot of us feel cheated and duped.
I may still differ with many regarding America's involvement in the current conflict, while remaining confident that supporting the allied troops in Iraq is not equal to relinquishing the Catholic faith. I believe that God has blessed America in countless ways. Unfortunately, America has in many ways chosen to ignore the fact that "unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shal be required; and to whom they have committed much, of him they will demand more." (Luke 12:48).
As a Catholic and a mother, I find it impossible to adopt what appears to be the completely negative, condemning and hostile view towards America which I've seen in print lately. I don't think I could continue to live in the United States and pay taxes if I truly believed the philosophy behind some of the things I've read.
It is critical that Catholics realize that despite the failures and gross defects of this country, we have here the tremendous freedom to live our Catholic faith in ways unknown to many generations, for which we should be absolutely grateful. This fact alone gives us a "head-start" on everyday and a chance to do something positive for God in our small corner of the world without fear of being arrested or disappearing into the night of tyranny. It also gives us a huge responsibility as individuals.
Before the issue of war in Iraq came to the forefront, Catholic writers were all abuzz about problems in the Church, the differences between the true Church and the pseudo-church, the problems with the new Mass versus the Tridentine Mass, etc. I don't think anyone was confusing the United States with the Vatican or considering the Catholicity of the U.S. government. Suddenly, the war in Iraq has caused an unbelievable number of Catholics to expect the United States government to miraculously act according to the teachings of the Catholic Church and make a real effort to establish the social Kingship of Christ on earth. It's interesting that in a day when the "official" Catholic Church has basically abandoned the perennial teachings of the Church, including the social Kingship of Christ (as Pope Pius XI proclaimed in his encyclical Quas Primas), we should now expect the government of the United States of America to be acting upon Catholic principles.
During this campaign, the whole abortion scandal is laid at the feet of President George W. Bush, some even claiming that if he would fight as hard against abortion as he is fighting to oust Saddam Hussein from power, abortion would be abolished. There seems to be a large amount of naiveté behind such statements, as anyone who has done much work at all in the pro-life movement knows that the mechanism of the abortion industry in this country is so deeply entrenched and firmly rooted that no mere president will be able to single handedly put an end to it. The war against the regime of Saddam Hussein was a cakewalk compared to what's in store if a real war is declared against the bloodthirsty abortionists. Don't think the pro-child killers will throw down their weapons and run away like the Iraqi soldiers did!
The fact is that the real war against abortion will not come from the government of the United States. An evil even greater than abortion is facing us. This evil consists in an abandonment of the Truth, which is Jesus Christ, and such evil has caused the Catholic Church to embrace compromise. In the 1960's the majority of the Catholic hierarchy and clergy threw down their weapons. They cast aside the armor of God (Eph 6:11-18) in favor of a love affair with the world. The evils of abortion surfaced with vengeance when the Church no longer stood firmly against it. The fact that abortion was legalized in all 50 states of the Union was not the reason that the abortion industry flourished and became part of the American way of life. No, the reason the abortion industry has become a multi-billion dollar industry is because people, individual people one by one, gave up their belief in the Truth. Would it be unfair to suggest that if John Paul II had worked as vigorously, as publicly and as vociferously for an end to abortion as he has recently worked to try and avert war in Iraq the Church would have had an impact on abortion in the world by now?
The challenges that lie before individual Catholics today are astronomical, and that is why I refuse to give in to the bleak picture painted by so many. We have to be realistic, yet we can't give in to the darkness. Those of us with children know that we must give our young people reason to believe they can make a difference. We have to seek out and find the good that is around us, the good that exists within our government, within technology, within other people. Children are like tender plants that must be given proper care and shelter from abrasive elements if they will grow strong and mature enough to weather the storms. They have to believe that the country they live in has some good to offer the world, so they can go ahead as strong, dedicated Catholics to become the scientists, the politicians and teachers who will influence the future of America for good. Christ told us to be the light of the world; if there were no darkness this would not be necessary.
I can't rant and rave about the fact that the social reign of Jesus Christ is not apparent in my nation, when it is not even apparent in my own small community or in the local Novus Ordo parish near me. If we seriously seek the social Kingship of Jesus Christ, first we must each question ourselves and ask if Christ is King of our individual homes. This is the only place to begin. Have we solemnly enthroned an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in our homes? Have we made Jesus Christ the King of our families, renewing our consecration to Him on a regular basis? The act of enthronement is, "like a recognition of the living presence of Our Lord in the home, where His Divine Heart, as King of Love, is the Center, attracting all the members of the family. It is more than a mere veneration of the image of the Sacred Heart or a transient consecration. It is a "way of life," a permanent state of devotedness and love, full of grace and joy" (Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the Family, National Enthronement Center, Fairhaven, MA). Young people have to have this anchor as well as a healthy appreciation for the Immaculate Heart of Mary. If they can't see the faith being actually and vibrantly lived out in the home, it is unrealistic to expect them to take the faith out into the world. Catholics of today cannot afford to make the mistake of falling into apathy and resignation to the organized pseudo-church which claims most of the visible church buildings and parishes of America.
In addition to the solemn enthronement of Christ as King in our individual homes, I heartily recommend that individuals unite themselves with the faithful clergy and religious in that public prayer and liturgy which is the Divine Office. These prayers, recited in accordance with the traditional rites and practices of the Catholic Church, are a marvelous way for the laity to foster and promote the true unity of the Church, while continuing the tradition of daily praise specific to the hours of the day. The wisdom of Holy Mother Church in requiring the clergy to recite the Divine Office becomes apparent after one begins to adopt the rhythms of this daily prayer. It is a real privilege to be able to join with faithful the world over in praying the Divine Office. This special prayer, the Divine Office, contained in the Breviary, "is the great official prayer recited daily by the Church as the mystical body of Christ, divine Head and human members together, to pay worship to God only second in importance to that supreme act of religious cult, the sacrifice of the Mass" (Introduction to the Breviary, Confraternity of Ss. Peter and Paul, www.breviary.net). For those who are unfamiliar with the Divine Office or who do not have access to the book(s), the Traditional Roman Breviary in English and Latin is available online at www.breviary.net through the Confraternity of Sts. Peter and Paul. This is a tremendous opportunity for the faithful to further commit themselves to creating an environment of prayer within the home even if it is just for morning or evening prayer.
It is only through the home that the Social Reign of Christ will be realized and begin to permeate our parishes, then our schools, our communities and finally our government. It is only through His grace poured out upon our homes that individuals committed to the causes and interests of the Sacred Heart will go forth to influence the world and souls. I believe it is only through this channel that abortuaries will one day be silent because individuals will no longer be fooled into choosing to kill unborn children. Let me repeat that the Social Reign of Jesus Christ will only come about one soul at a time. Even though past Supreme Pontiffs have expressed that it is the duty of princes and rulers to give public honor and obedience to Christ, such duty will never be fulfilled if individual souls are not first converted to Christ. This is the challenge before us.
When considering the expectation that the whole world will anytime soon accept the Kingship of Christ, or that the whole world will be perfectly at peace and all people will be converted to Christ and His Church prior to the Second Coming, let's keep in mind the words of our Savior: "A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you." (John 15:20) Did not Christ tell us that even in the end times believers will be persecuted and hated for His name's sake? (cf. Luke 21:17) And again, He said His kingdom is not of this world. (cf. John 18:36) He told us that many are called, but few are chosen.(cf.Matt 20:16) "If the world hates you, know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet, because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (John 15:18). Our duty is to fight the good fight in the midst of all the obstacles knowing that our real battle is against "principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph 6:10). Keep in mind always that the Cross appeared to be a sound defeat as far as the eyes of the world were concerned.
Most of us aren't theologians and historians or great writers who can impact the world. We don't dream that our negligible influence will affect this nation or the U.S. Senate. Yet, we must believe that Christ can use each of us wherever we are to make a difference for His Kingdom. Our job is to take the graces He gives us through the Sacraments and put them to use in our everyday situations at work, at the grocery store, in rush hour traffic, in the programs we watch, the things we buy, and in the way we vote at the polls. We must be mindful daily of our primary business to bring Christian charity to the people whose paths we cross in even the most mundane and boring experiences. There isn't a single situation in our lives wherein Christ is unimportant. If we profess to be committed Catholics, we must know that the world is watching to see if we are loyal to Jesus Christ in even the smallest ways.
I encourage Catholics; do not be discouraged that the government isn't acting according to Catholic teaching, or about the past sins of this nation. Don't give up because "Catholic" bishops and clergy are inviting pro-abortion speakers to their parishes. Be true to Christ and His will for you. Make a difference in your home and in your own family and He will bless you and equip you for all that is necessary in the real war to win hearts.
Come, Lord Jesus, come! Our hearts and home are open to You. Stay with us, we need You. Release in our home the power of Your Spirit, the Healer, the Consoler. Save our family from the evil forces seeking to destroy us. Our Father in heaven, take away our stony hearts and give us new hearts; unselfish, generous and pure hearts filled with love for You! Heal our hurts, bind up our wounds, unite us in love. May our love go beyond our family and inspire us to love those in need as Jesus loves us. Lord Jesus, to Your loving, glorified Heart, Your wounded Heart, we dedicate, we consecrate our weak, our selfish hearts. We humbly acknowledge that without You we can do nothing, but with Your help and Your grace, we can do all things… *