You are merciful to all, O Lord,
and despise nothing that you have made.
You overlook people’s sins, to bring them to repentance,
and you spare them, for you are the Lord our God.
Wisdom 11:24,25,27; from the Introit for Ash Wednesday
Lent is upon us. Don’t waste it. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.
I fly around 120K miles a year for my day job, so I hear that phrase a lot. Maybe that’s why when I heard it referenced by Ann Barnhardt in a podcast earlier this week, it just sort of went right past me. The analogy was referring to the need to make sure your own faith, soul, prayer life, etc is well taken care of as prerequisite to anything else.
That same day, I went off to Confession, as I had already planned to do. The penance was totally focused on the need to pray for my own needs, and really making it a priority. The priest asked me if I had prayed my daily Rosary yet, and I told him I had not (I love that at the FSSP parish, it’s just assumed you’re praying a daily Rosary). He instructed me to go offer my Rosary, entrusting to our Blessed Mother the channeling of all necessary graces for my spiritual benefit.
The podcast and the Confession should both have been a big wake up call. But the full gravity of the situation didn’t really hit me until about halfway through that Rosary when I realized, slap upside the head, I actually could not remember the last time I prayed the Rosary entirely for myself. The Holy Ghost always knows when you need a slap upside the head. Now you already know how much I love the Rosary, so you can imagine how odd this seemed to me. I mean, obviously I’ve prayed a decade or two as a penance, for an increase in this virtue or that, but a whole Rosary just for me? I can’t remember the last time, and that’s a real problem.
In Spiritual Warfare, the Rosary is a weapon of mass destruction. I’ve written about it many times in these pages. It’s a real weapon, not a metaphorical weapon. So much so, it almost seems selfish to offer it entirely for yourself. But it’s never selfish to pray for yourself, so long as your intention is in accord with God’s will. And we need not worry about petitioning something against His will, because He’s not granting that anyway. Of course in the individual prayers of the Rosary, the Our Fathers and Hail Marys, we are praying for ourselves within those prayers. But what I am talking about here are specific, personal, spiritual intentions beyond what is asked in those prayers.
I would be willing to bet that most Catholics who are somewhat secure in their faith, who are honestly trying to live authentic Christian lives, and who have managed by the grace of God to overcome a whole bunch of entrenched wretchedness, don’t pray for themselves nearly enough. We foolishly think we’ve extracted ourselves permanently from said wretchedness and we’re now “saved”. Not in the proddy sense of “once saved always saved”, but rather in the sense of “thanks to my hard conversion/reversion to the one true faith, even though I still fall sometimes, and even though I’m totally unworthy of the honor, I am now on the side of the angels and God will surely grant me final perseverance.”
Oh man, that is so dangerous. It’s for very good reason that Jesus taught us to pray to the Father to deliver us not into temptation, and that we ask Mary to pray for us at the hour of our death. It’s for very good reason that in the Roman Canon itself, during the Hanc Igitur, the priest and faithful pray to be saved from eternal damnation and be counted among the elect. Damnation is a real possibility if we so choose it, and “once saved always saved” is one of the most pernicious lies ever told. If you are truly living an authentic Christian life, Satan views you as a hard target; he knows he needs to deploy extra resources to bring you down, and deploy he will. He’s already won the soft targets without even trying, so he’s got extra munitions reserved for you. Meditate on the blitzkrieg he has planned for the hour of your death. Be terrified by this, and use the terror to build your counterattack.
With everything that’s going on right now, all of the “confusion” surrounding all aspects of the Bergolian antipapacy, Satan is squealing with delight and has launched a huge offensive. Bergoglio himself is a soft target for Satan, easily manipulated and used to destroy souls on a horrific scale. He is a soft target not only because he is an arch-heretic and profoundly stupid, but because he does not have the supernatural protection afforded to the holder of the Petrine office, due to his invalid election. Now, when this is the unmistakable reality of the Catholic Church today, the one true Church founded by God Incarnate, do you think perhaps the effects of this might be rather… widespread? The past nearly five years since the failed partial resignation of Pope Benedict has literally been, pun intended, a huge coming out party for all manner of perversion and reprobation; a spiraling tempest of filth. Do you want a sense of how long ago five years was? Five years ago, Hillary Clinton was campaigning AGAINST same-sex “marriage.” Yeah. The ever quickening pace of events across all sectors of civilization is so breathtaking, you would be delusional to think it’s not all connected. The demonic activity is everywhere and is even palpable at times. PALPABLE. Have you felt it? Every solid priest I speak with confirms they feel it too.
So there is certainly no shortage of things to pray about. And while some of this is about prioritization, it’s also about recognizing your role at the tip of the spear. We need to militantly pursue our own spiritual perfection first and foremost. It might not seem right when it first hits your ear, but if we are too busy praying for everyone else at the expense of praying for ourselves, it does everyone a disservice. This may sound uncharitable or lacking humility, but that’s not the case, because it necessarily means expanding our own prayer life. The mere fact that you are here, reading this tiny, tiny blog right now, means you are probably the tip of the spear. Proper training is essential. By calling down these graces in petition, and cooperating with them, our own increase in holiness in turn makes our prayers for others more efficacious. Everybody wins.
You are part of a very small, elite, specialized unit. This is the greatest battle ever fought, because the results of this battle are eternal. You need to be on your game.
St Michael the Archangel, pray for us
St Joan of Arc, pray for us
St Martin of Tours, pray for us
St Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us
Christ, have mercy on us