I want to preface this post by stating that this is exactly what I needed to hear as I am a pathetic excuse for a married Catholic living in the world today. August Queen of Heaven, Pray for Us.
I feel like when I was a child, the most common phrase out of my parent’s mouths was ‘no’. My mother to this day holds that my first words were ‘get down’! We have been told negative things since before we were able to understand what they meant. I was yelled at if I crossed the street without looking both ways, and I was scolded if I ever did anything wrong. Not everyone experienced childhood like me, and not everything in my childhood was negative (the good outweighs the bad I promise).
If you had siblings, you could relate to some of the crazy things you did with and to each other. I accidentally almost killed my sister one night because I was too little to understand what a synthroid was and that you were only supposed to have one pill versus the whole bottle (that action was completely innocent and I had no idea what was happening). That was a scary night! Luckily, my parents were there and forced my sister to vomit everything up and all was well.
The point is, we [sometimes] have to try pretty hard to think of some good times back in the day. It’s almost always easier to focus on the bad versus the good. Do we remember all the times our parents told us that they love us? Do we remember the times we had to run to them as they accepted us in open arms into their bed because we had a nightmare? Do we now realize that they were punishing us when we ran out into the street because they were scared that we would get hit by a car and die? Do we understand how much they love us, want what is best for us, and want to protect us?
Just because our parents did things we did not understand, and just because our parents punished us and we did not like it, does not mean they did not love us. I think too many people in the world today confuse love with acceptance and tolerance. God loves and is love. The purest example we have of God’s love is His sacrifice of His Son on the Cross. It’s tough, it’s hard, it’s difficult, and it’s bloody. That love is for the best, and this love is not the ‘love’ families and people seek these days. People seek an affectionate, brotherly, or sexual love. Self-sacrifice seems to barely be found in the spectrum of love that is known by society today. Yet, agape, or self-sacrificial love, is the only love that could even stand a chance in saving the Domestic Church today.
While focusing on the family and reflecting on one of our previous posts, ‘Family, DON’T Become What You Are’, I could not help but think of my childhood. My father worked his butt off to provide for a family. My mother worked her butt off at home to provide for her family.
One of the points of one of the previous blogs, 'Family, DON'T Become What You Are' was to inform Catholics that people (even those in Catholic hierarchy) are telling the family to not be what God created a family to be. The point of this blog is to light a fire under the family and the individuals therein. To urge families to put on the armor of God, to renounce self, and to get to heaven no matter what.
“The only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint.” - Leon Bloy
The family is the core of any society. The family is the Domestic Church regardless of what any Church authority or leadership states in contradiction to that objective truth. The family has been under attack since the beginning of time. I mean shoot, one of the first kids of Adam and Eve killed his brother! Talk about family problems! This is not something new. No person is perfect; no family is perfect. Original Sin left humanity tainted. It has tainted fatherhood, motherhood, and childhood. The only perfect family was the Holy Family, so guess who the rest of us have to look to for guidance?
So I ask you: what is holding you and your family back from being the Holy Family you were created to be? Sit for a moment and let that sink in.
Reflect for a simple moment on the holiness exemplified in the Holy Family and the Holy Trinity.
How many distractions do you fall prey to every single day? How many of us know the path to salvation, but are too attached to this earthly material that we fall to the wayside on our path to holiness? What fear holds us back from becoming the saints we are created to be? What stops us short of becoming more like the Holy Family? It’s the WORLD!
We have phones, computers, TV, and a society that has plunged so deep into darkness that morality and objectivism no longer exists. What is holding you back? I ask myself this every day. What is holding me back from giving it all to Christ? Do I not fully trust that he will take care of my family? Do I not believe in His promise of salvation in the Gospels? Then why do I still fail to take that leap of faith and fully place my being within that of Christ?
What is the worst that can happen? I think that this question is what holds most Catholic families back. We see what bad can happen and we become afraid. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. We want to follow Christ fully, we desire to follow Christ fully, but we fail over and over and over again.
Is it even practical? Can a practicing Catholic with a family actually follow Christ fully? And let me clarify here that when I say fully I mean there is no drop of sin or attachment to sin that could enter into the family life. If in fact the littlest sin hurts and offends God, then why would any person who loves God even dare to attempt such a thing? Look at the saints! They thought they were the worst of all people, but when we look at them we see heroes!
What did the Saints do that was so magnificent, so marvelous, so wonderful, so powerful? They placed God at the center of their lives, and relentlessly avoided deviating from keeping God in the forefront of their every thought, word, and deed. The saints did nothing out of the ordinary! They were simply ordinary people who lived in extraordinary ways for Christ. They believed with their whole being the promises of the Gospel and nothing was going to hold them back. Nothing of this world could stop them from getting to heaven. No TV, no internet, to games, no distractions, and no sin would hold them back from their heavenly reward. They only had to focus on God. Why can the same not be true for us?
If the family is the core of society, if the family is the Domestic Church, then what is holding you back from being the family that God intended you to be? Who cares what the world thinks of you? Do we believe that for a moment if we are to give up all our distractions so we can more fully unite ourselves and our families to Christ that we will be let down? I doubt it. Still, it is hard to part from the sweet music on the radio, or that nice netflix series that only has a little violence, a little promiscuity, and a little language. It is hard to delete every app on our phone that is distracting us from our work environment, our family, and our spiritual life.
It is hard to even think about this, but what else is there to do? Are you going to justify watching netflix when you could be reading about the lives of the saints (not here to condemn our distractions-just simply attempting to get people to think)? You are either moving forward, or you are moving backwards in your spiritual life. There is no stand still moment. This passage from Scripture offers a good reflection:
“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked... Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to them and eat with him, and he with me. He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” -Rev. 3:15-17, 19-21
If Catholics truly live their faith in the world today, if Catholics stop worrying about the politics of the Church and focused more on getting their families to heaven no matter what, if Catholics were not afraid of the consequences of the world, if Catholics would stop picking and choosing what they’d like their faith to be, and if Catholics stand up and reject the sin of the world and what she has to offer, then there is still hope that the wrath of God in the end will come swiftly and justly, and that those deserving of the heavenly banquet will be seated there with the saints and angels.
We have nothing to fear; the only thing we have to lose is our soul for eternity. We are living through some trying times in our world today. The world has become so against God that I have started to pray for the courage to watch my family be killed before my very eyes and still keep to my faith in God. I truly don’t care how extreme that may sound, but don’t be ignorant. This martyrdom is happening in the middle east; just because we live in the land of the free does not mean it could never happen here. I pray that my family has the strength to watch me die without losing their faith. I still have a long way to go before I am even near being prepared enough for what is coming, but I do know that something is coming.
We need to stop avoiding and dismissing the hard questions. We need to understand that our lives are not our own, and we owe God every thought, word, and action of our life. Pray for the grace to avoid temptation and sin at all cost. Pray for the grace of final perseverance in the end times. Pray for the grace to live a holy life. Pray to the Guardian Angel of your family that it will protect you and allow God’s will to be done for your family. Pray, Hope, and Do Not Worry. God has a plan. Stop placing more trust in yourself, and place more trust in God.
This post may be difficult to hear. This post was not some formality to talk about the niceties of being held back. This post is a call to get off our butts and do something with our families. If you were to die after reading this, how confident are you that you would be in heaven? If you don’t like the answer, then do something about it. If you really do trust in God the way you say you do, then stop avoiding the issue, and run towards His wide open arms! Get into the confessional and go more frequently. Frequenting the sacraments is what will save us during these crazy times in the world. Just like the prodigal son, if we run back to our Lord with full repentance and contrition, He will love us, and He will lead us to sanctification if we truly let Him.
If you are not ready, if you are not prepared for the end, then truly sit back and ask yourself, what is holding me back? When you find the answers, because you will find them, don’t just ignore the solution. We’ve been ignoring for far too long. Ultimately, the only tragedy in the end is not to have been a saint. Please, let that sink in. Christ has won the battle! So I ask for the final time, what is holding you and your family back from being the family that God has created you to be?