Thanks be to God, you and I still profess the Faith that so many have abandoned and betrayed.
But what use do we make of it? Do we love it? Do we understand that our greatest happiness in life consists in being members of the holy Church, that our greatest glory is the title of Christian?
If we respond in the affirmative — and how rare are those who, in good conscience, could so respond — are we ready to make every sacrifice in order to preserve our faith?
Before answering with a romantic yes, let us take a moment to examine our consciences honestly. Do we ever seek occasions that might put our faith at risk? Do we enjoy worldly pleasures that are — at best — indifferent to it?
Do we read or view materials that violate its standards? Do we welcome the company of those who disregard or even disparage it?
By virtue of their instinct of sociability, all men are prone to conform to popular opinion, to accept the conventional wisdom around them. Today’s dominant opinions contravene the teachings of the Church in philosophy, sociology, history, science, art — ultimately, in everything.
Our friends quite likely follow the trend. Do we have the courage to stand against it? Do we guard our hearts against any penetration of erroneous ideas? Are we of one mind with the Church in everything? Or are we content with negligently going about our business, taking in everything the spirit of the times instills simply because it instills it?
Perhaps we have not expelled Our Lord from our souls, but how do we treat this Divine Guest? Is He the object of all our attention, the center of our intellectual, moral, and affective life? Is He our King? Or do we allot Him only a small space where He is tolerated as a secondary guest, a rather uninteresting and inconvenient guest?
When the Divine Master groaned, wept, and sweat blood during His Passion, He was tormented not solely by physical sorrows, nor just those sufferings occasioned by the hatred of those who persecuted Him then. He was also tormented by everything that we would do against Him and the Church in the coming centuries. He wept because of the hatred of all the evil men, every Arius, Nestorius, and Luther. But He also wept foreseeing the unending procession of lukewarm souls, apathetic souls, that, while not persecuting Him, do not love Him as they ought.
This is the innumerable multitude of those who spend their lives neither hating nor loving and who, according to Dante, remain at the gates of Hell because not even Hell has sufficient place for them. Are we among these?
This is the great question that with God’s grace we must answer in the days, weeks and months ahead in 2009.