Monday, January 10, 2011

How Good Catholics Should React to Bad News

I am concerned with a trend among some Catholics to downplay the gravity of news or even to make believe nothing bad is happening. At times, this is done outright, or by focusing on a small piece of good news to the exclusion of reality. It’s like the little boy who talks out loud to himself and says “I can’t hear you” as his mother tells him to stop misbehaving. We have all done it. It is voluntary blindness, a wish to see the world as it is NOT. It is a flight from reality.

We cannot be optimistic or pessimistic

True, as we read the news, we are hard pressed not to be affected by the events. Be it news of a disaster, a financial downturn, a political scandal, a raging and outrageous fad or a shocking immoral trend or monstrous sexual perversion.

But no matter how disconcerting the news may be, we must view it with complete serenity, objectivity and seriousness, with neither optimism nor illusions, always analyzing reality head on, even when it is disagreeable.

The apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima to the three children seers are very good examples of how Catholic ought to learn and react to bad events.

Our Lady of Fatima – Our Lady of Reality

For example, on July 13, 1917, Our Lady showed the children a vision of Hell. That’s pretty tough medicine... and to small children! Then she described a string of chastisements, sufferings and events that would happen if mankind did not convert. Another does of strong medicine. Of reality.

Finally, after giving all the “bad” news, Our Lady promised her glorious triumph over evil and Satan by saying “In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph!”

The fact that Our Lady spoke of very bad times, and many sufferings, is important. She did not go straight into the good news. Our Lady spoke of the bad news first. Then She gave the good news, which only enhances the beauty and glory of Her Triumph. It serves to highlight Her power over evil.

But if we have blinded ourselves to the bad news, and stopped paying attention to what is happening in the world, we are not following Our Lady’s example. We are not getting prepared for the great trials that lie ahead.

And by refusing to see reality as it is, we fall into two lamentable states of mind:

a) Indirectly considering that things are too bad, too evil for God to deal with;

b) Indirectly failing to take into consideration God’s power to over come these terrible evils that afflict the world right now.

We must remember that God is all powerful. And he will NOT put us in a situation that is above our forces.

We must read the news to know what is happening

Cultured persons necessarily have to be well-informed and, thus, ought to be aware of the news that surround and affect them. However, to be completely objective entails seeing reality entirely as it is without veils or prejudices. We make a judgment of the news by objectively analyzing its positive and negative aspects paying special attention to the latter so that it does not drag one down into depression or into a sense of hopelessness.

It is also wise to read between the lines and perhaps even with a grain of salt as many newspapers or news outfits have underlying moral, socio-political and ideological bias or bent and present news to push their leftist and liberal agenda. Otherwise if we are not careful, ideas they present could affect our philosophical and moral principles in an implicit but still insinuatingly active way through the tendencies.[i]

We should keep up on events, especially those that affect the Church and Christian Civilization

As Catholics, it is our duty to pay keen attention to events affecting the Church and Christian Civilization since She is properly speaking the pillar of the world, of the temporal and civil order as well as the moral and spiritual order. Indeed we can affirm that History revolves around the Church. Anything that affects Her affects the world in turn.

As the teacher of Truth, the fountain of graces and the enemy of error and sin, we turn to the Church for Her maternal guidance in this vale of tears, for sadly, we live in an ambience saturated with materialism in a neo-pagan world pressed by the modern rat race.

Contemporary man worshipped the body almost as if an idol and negated the primacy of the soul. It has organized everything as if man were only body. Hence, when man forgets the supremacy of the soul over the body, tragic consequences and bad news abound.

No depression: Our Lady will win, even though things look bad

And seeing the sad state of affairs dominating mankind, God sent His Most Holy Mother to warn men at Fatima in 1917. While she painted a bleak picture, she also offered the solutions to thwart the impending chastisement. She asked for prayers, penance and amendment of life.

Amid the moral decadence we find ourselves in, we must exercise complete trust and confidence in Our Lady’s promise. While the disorderly passions, inflamed by the preternatural action of the Powers of Darkness, continually incite men and nations toward evil, we must never forget to turn to Our Lady for help for she is more powerful than all the satanic forces of Hell.

With the help of Divine grace, the practice of virtue and recourse to the Sacraments, we can lead an exemplary life that the Church asks of every faithful today even when we are confronted by a deluge of sad and tragic news.

Of ourselves, we cannot overcome evil. Of ourselves, we cannot deal with the bad news that threatens on all sides. But Our Lady can. And more importantly, She will.

She promised not only to overcome evil but to triumph over it, which is a super victory.

To block out reality because it is harsh is to imply that Our Lady has not the power and will not use that power to triumph over Satan. That is to judge Our Lady by our own small size and weakness.

[i] In his article, Philosophical Self-Portrait, Plinio CorrĂȘa de Oliveira asserts, “Bad tendencies incline toward error, good tendencies toward truth.”

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