Number CDXCVI (496)
The world today could make a saint despair –
But half a saint knows how to turn to prayer.
When the Titanic began sinking in 1912, it is well-known that the first lifeboats to be launched were not filled to capacity because not yet enough passengers took seriously the stricken ship’s doomed condition. But as the full truth became widely known, so the rest of the lifeboats each of them had more than enough people wanting to get on board. Now, the sinking of the Titanic was a mirror of God held up to the modern world, but by no means all people alive today believe that, and so the lifeboats of Catholic Tradition are being emptied rather than filled. Nothing like enough souls are yet grasping the full truth of our doomed condition to be doing what they need to be doing – praying urgently.
Here is how a friend from Switzerland puts it: “In our country as elsewhere, every last trace of Catholicism is disappearing, and the (once very Catholic canton of the) Valais is no exception. Everything needs to start all over again, while the enemies of Truth are more numerous every day.” Can anyone say that this description does not fit his own part of the world? Certainly it fits England! In a poll of 1595 English adults taken on December 18 and 19, only 28% believe in God while 38% are positive atheists. A little under two years ago those figures were 32% for the believers, 33% for the atheists. It is clear that the disbelievers are pulling significantly ahead. Poor England!
But why is belief in God so important? St Thomas Aquinas explains in his Treatise on the Angels: just as all Creation proceeds by an overflow of goodness from God, so this goodness in creatures seeks to make its way back to the Supreme Goodness of the Creator, each in its own way: vegetable and mineral by a natural inclination, animals by a sense inclination, most perfectly men and angels by an intellective inclination of mind and free-will (1a, 59, 1). Thus human beings come from God to go back to Him, by the right use of their mind, the mind being “inexcusable,” says St Paul, if it pretends that it cannot recognise God in His Creation (Rom. I, 20), and by the right use of their free-will, to choose Him rather than refuse Him. Alas, sense attractions draw most men away from God (1a, 63, 9 ad 1).
However, to be drawn away from Him is not what God meant men for. Every single human being that He created, He meant for Heaven (I Tim. II, 4), and to all men He gives grace sufficient for them to know Him and love Him and so get to Heaven. Heaven is therefore what every man is for, whether or not he accepts the fact, and if he refuses it, he is blinding himself and can have no understanding of what life is all about. It would follow that all such men who are leaders in any domain are ultimately the blind leading the blind, while all such followers are the blind following the blind. “I am the Light of the World,” says Our Lord Jesus Christ, “he that followeth me walketh not in darkness” (Jn. VIII, 12).
Then he who refuses to follow God, let alone Jesus Christ and his Catholic Church, walks in darkness, and the obstinate preference today of global “Westerners” for more and more darkness is preparing a terrible Chastisement, comparable only to the Flood in the time of Noah. As then men had so “corrupted their ways” (Gen. VI, 12) that God had to intervene with the Flood to prevent absolutely all men from choosing to go to Hell, so too today the corruption is so terrible that God alone can interrupt it.
But men can always pray, and prayer still works like nothing else still works. For it is easy to imagine, amidst millions and millions of souls turning to Mammon and away from God, how He positively watches out for, and listens to, the fewer and fewer souls that turn to Him. The hour is to prayer, through his Mother, the prayer of the Holy Rosary, fifteen Mysteries a day, if that is at all reasonably possible.Kyrie eleison.