October 1, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – We are always in need of the example and teaching of the saints to keep us on the right track. In the month of October, the Church celebrates the feasts of many great saints. Two especially beloved saints are remembered right at the beginning: St. Thérèse of Lisieux (October 1 on the new calendar, October 3 on the old calendar), and St. Francis of Assisi (October 4 on both calendars).
St. Thérèse teaches us never to overlook or neglect the little things in which God meets us and through which we show our love for Him. St. Francis teaches us that everything is as dross or rubbish in comparison with the surpassing love of Christ crucified. Both became saints by following the narrow path, which means putting Christ first, over and over again, and shunning sin, over and over again. It was not that they never struggled and faltered; such complete perfection is not possible for any fallen human being. As St. Thomas says, we will be perfect in every way only in the heavenly fatherland. It was rather that Thérèse and Francis knew where they were going and how to get there, and never let themselves be hindered by any obstacle.
Our Lord acts powerfully within us, in spite of obstacles we throw up in front of Him—as long as we keep giving our hearts to Him in that single, simple, fundamental act of will: “Lord, I want to belong to you, I want to be yours for all eternity. Make me yours by the power of your Holy Spirit.”
The root of our current crisis in the Church is nothing other than the lack of a burning desire to be with our Lord Jesus Christ and be found in Him today, every day, and at the last day. This is the foundation of holiness and of everything in the Christian life. Without this desire for an ever more perfect union with Christ our Savior, nothing else matters or even makes any sense. This is what we have to rediscover—beginning right here, in my own breast, in your own breast.
The evil that the Lord is permitting to occur is an extremely loud wake-up call to rediscover our basic identity and commitment as disciples of Christ. And because love often has a chance to show itself more in small ways than in big ways, as St. Thérèse reminded us, we need to humble ourselves enough to go to the Lord in prayer daily—go to Confession, go to Mass, go to Eucharistic adoration, go to Our Lady and the saints for help, in spite of any despondency, inconvenience, ill-feelings, or whatever might tempt us away from what we know we should be doing.
Our daily routine seems to include plenty of time for intense scrutiny of the news, the launching of complaints like ships in a naval battle, the fashioning of critiques to form-fit today’s targets, the cultivation of anxiety almost as a fine art, and the overall compounding of misery like bank interest. I myself know well the temptation to get absorbed and lost in these things.
Don’t get me wrong! There is definitely a place for keeping up with news, submitting complaints, and making critiques, even if not for excessive anxiety and misery. Nevertheless, I believe St. Thérèse and St. Francis would say to us: Do not forget to make time, more and more time, for humble, heartfelt, meek, and generous prayer for the Church, for all her members, beginning with the pope and going all the way down to the parishioners who annoy you, the priest who has offended you, or whatever it is that bothers you the most. Do this for the love of Christ, who loved you and gave Himself for you when you were still a wretched sinner (Gal 2:20; Rom 5:8).
Prayer will do far more to promote a real and lasting reform of the Church than any amount of “activism” of the usual sort. As Saint Catherine of Siena cries out in one of her magnificent prayers:
O most gentle Love, You saw in Yourself the need of the Holy Church, and the remedy she needs, and You gave it to her—that is, the prayer of Your servants, of which You would like a wall to be built on which the holy Church will be supported; and to Your servants, the clemency of Your Holy Spirit infuses ardent desires for her renewal.