The Antidote for Our Times

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In his classic Aphorisms, Hippocrates once declared, “For extreme diseases, extreme methods of cure, as to restriction, are most suitable.” Today, we say, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” But do desperate measures justify perceived desperate times? 

Last year, we saw firsthand how “extreme methods of cure” were unnecessarily imposed on our world and Church, even though the survival rate for COVID-19 is around 99%. Consequently, our world is no longer the same, and those who now refuse a vaccine tainted with aborted fetuses or refuse to subscribe to a secular-socialist regime are quickly becoming the lepers of society. Unfortunately, their voice is being censored. This is a time of great trial. 

And yet, these trials have existed since the Fall. Every generation has faced desperate times: disease, famine, financial instability, and war. And every generation has sought to find a remedy to such evils, such as medicines, vaccines, government initiatives, and peace treaties. But man-made solutions can never guarantee true peace and security; only God can do that. 

Suffering—the result of original sin—will never disappear because this finite world is not our home; we are merely passing by. But still, we long for some consolation on the weary road to heaven, especially in times of crisis. We long to lay our heads down from time to time. And therefore, we ought to turn to the Church to give us the manna in the desert, the Holy Eucharist. Tragically, this manna was locked up during the pandemic, when we needed it the most, when we were traveling in our spiritual and financial desert.

And to add injury to insult, many religious orders’ doors and sacred liturgies were closed and remain so to protect their infirm members. In past times, monasteries and convents were the epicenter of prayer and hospitality for retreatants and travelers, but this no longer seems to be the case. In fact, some orders will only allow you to visit if you wear a mask and receive Holy Communion in the hand. And now, many monasteries have mandated that every monk be vaccinated.  

In the Rule of St. Benedict, guests are to be “welcomed as Christ.” Sadly, Christ is no longer welcome at many monasteries, either in the person of the guest, or in the Holy Eucharist. In fact, many monasteries have relegated the Most Blessed Sacrament to a side altar while the Abbot’s chair takes the most prominent place. Gregorian chant, along with a strict interpretation of the Rule of St. Benedict, have been abandoned in many communities. For instance, the Rule of St. Benedict beckons the monks to “keep death daily before your eyes.” The truth is that our world, and many in the Church, are afraid to die. Specifically, many bishops, priests, and religious orders have locked themselves in their own upper room while the laity is pleading for help.

We saw this last year when the Holy Eucharist was held captive, especially during the Easter Triduum, and sadly still is in some places, instead of being offered freely to God’s starving sons and daughters. Do you think St. Benedict would have closed his monasteries to visitors, or St. Francis stopped preaching the Gospel because he feared for his life? No, the saints sought to bring as many souls as possible to the Ark of Salvation, Holy Mother Church. They didn’t close her doors when the flood waters of disease, persecution, and sin were rising. So, instead of the Church being a hospital of sinners, many chanceries, rectories, monasteries, and convents have become a quarantined home for those seeking to avoid the Cross. 

In these desperate times, the laity long for bishops, priests, and monks to lay down their lives for their sheep and to not be afraid of death. We look around our Church and lament how few saints there are. We say to ourselves, If only our bishops were like Thomas Becket, our priests like John Vianney, our monks like Bernard of Clairvaux, our nuns like Clare.

Yes, many consecrated souls have become derelict, lukewarm, petrified, and even downright demonic. And as a result, we feel angered and helpless. At times, we are tempted to walk away as so many have done, many who sadly have never returned to Holy Mass after COVID-19. But deep inside our hearts, we know, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” (John 6:68).

Our frustrations must be channeled or else it will only lead to more anger, depression, schism, and even leaving the Church. Yes, we cannot fix the Church or even our world, only God can; but that doesn’t mean we sit back and let it go to hell. No, we must do something, anything. Don’t forget, “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” or so they say. 

And what is most needed in these desperate times is not something, but someone: a saint. Our Church and world pine for saints more than ever—great saints like Padre Pio and Catherine of Siena and lesser-known ones like Gaspar and Dorothy. Saints who will set the world ablaze with the love of God and rescue thousands from the clutches of Satan. Saints who are more concerned about souls dying from mortal sin than dying from a virus. Saints who are not afraid to shed their blood—so that their flock is not afraid to shed its blood. 

And from where shall these saints come? From you and from me, from parents who are willing to put their hand to the plow; for the harvest of saints is abundant, but the laborers are few (see Luke 10:2). So, even though the bark of Peter, the Church, is being tossed to and fro by the secular tides and is in danger of capsizing, and our world is shrouded in darkness, there is a remedy. Courageously forming saints is the antidote to this age of atheism, fearfulness, lukewarmness, and modernism. But we need not reinvent the wheel. We have hidden heroes whose lives are now being revealed as models for today’s parents. They are the parents of the saints.

Courage led St. Padre Pio’s father to travel across the Atlantic Ocean to America on two occasions so his son could become a priest. Courage led Pope St. John Paul II’s mother to keep the future pope instead of aborting him, which she was advised to do, due to her health issues. Courage led St. John Vianney’s parents to organize underground Masses during the government’s persecution. Courage led St. Maximilian Kolbe’s parents to move him and his brothers away from the cesspool of the city and its liberal influences to the simplicity of the countryside. 

Courage produces saints who will then shine for eternity, instead of cowardly men and women who will soon be forgotten. More than ever, our Church needs heroic courage, especially from parents, because she needs great saints more than ever, and we cannot wait for others to fulfill this supreme responsibility. Hence, there is no greater mission for parents than to form their children into great saints day by day in the crucible of the domestic church. 

As the darkness overwhelms us, we often feel helpless and hopeless; but we need not. God is in control and we can control what happens in our houses, even though the world is out of control. Our Lord is counting on us, and His grace is with us. Our legacy ought to be far greater than having a library named after us, our name in the hall of fame, or even getting our children into an Ivy League college.

No, our legacy ought to be forming saints who will impact generations upon generations: saints who will do far greater than anything we can ever hope to achieve in our short lives; saints who will be martyrs in the confessional like Padre Pio; saints who will stand up to communist governments like Pope John Paul II; saints who will preach the truth like John Vianney; saints who will repel Islamic attacks on the Church with the Eucharist like Clare; saints who will die for others like Maximilian Kolbe; and saints who will boldly attend to leper colonies like Damian of Molokai. 

If we lead our children with courage, then they will one day lead the Church with courage, keeping her afloat while bringing thousands of souls to the shores of eternity. If desperate times call for desperate measures, then let us do something radical for God, let us form saints. 

[Photo Credit: Shutterstock]

By

Patrick O’Hearn is a husband and father. He is the author, mostly recently, of Parents of the Saints: The Hidden Heroes Behind Our Favorite Saints (TAN Books, 2021).

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