In the Midst of Crisis, Be Driven by Faith, Not by Fear

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrant

By Dr Peter Kwasniewski at Crisis Magazine:

In our days, we are seeing an intensification of the spiritual battle as the situation within the Catholic Church continues to deteriorate. Battles have casualties, and some of those casualties are Catholics who have lost their faith or are tempted to leave the Church because of the outrageous corruption, infidelity, and cowardice of its leaders and the seeming lack of any coherent solution amidst anarchy. 

The common denominator I have seen in those who are suffering shipwreck is that they focus their attention primarily or even exclusively on the Church as a human institution. By doing this, however, we go at the whole thing backward. 

The Church was not first in time, nor is it first in our lives. Christ came first: He sought out the apostles, He attracted the disciples, He redeemed us, He saves us even now, and the point of our whole life is to get to know Him. To be sure, He is the head of the Church, and we are members of that Church; it is the “place” where we meet Him. But it is neither first nor last. 

There is no way to know or understand or figure out the Church (or theology or liturgy or anything) without that fundamental relationship with Christ—being a son of the Father in and through Him. He is the Rock below the rock (Peter/the pope), and He is the only Rock that never shifts, being eternally stable.

We all know the story in which Jesus is sleeping in the bow of the storm-tossed boat. To some people today, it seems He’s never going to wake up from His slumber. This, too, is untrue. Rather, we are too busy freaking out to see that Christ is already awake and waiting to look us in the eye, if only we would stop for a moment, overcome our fear of silence, our fear of being alone with Him, and rest in Him. 

Among other things, He is alive and active in the Eucharist. This is for real: praying before and living from the Eucharist has made great saints—in every century, in every region, in every conceivable situation. Who fixes God’s Church? Saints do. How do men and women become saints? They do so by prayer and trust, not by thrashing around and venting and attacking. 

Our modern vice par excellence is activism. We are all inveterate activists who think that it’s “my fight for Catholicism” that matters. That is as sad as it is laughable. It is righteous men, however few they are, who hold this world together, as God said to Abraham. When Our Lady shows up, she doesn’t say “Talk more” or “Kill ‘em on Twitter!”; she says “Pray and do penance.”

St. Augustine and St. Anselm, two of the greatest intellects and saints in our tradition, both held tightly to this saying from Isaiah: “Unless you believe, you will not understand.” It may sound terribly anti-intellectual, but it’s not a truth limited to the supernatural realm; the same truth is verified again and again in human relationships, too. 

Understanding is not where we begin but where we end—when we have been faithful, when we have trusted, and when we have surrendered to a reality greater than ourselves and our ability to grasp it, or control it, or help it along. 

We are like the disciples in that boat: we expect Christ to do things according to our ideas of how it should be done: the warrior Messiah kicking the viscera out of the Romans. His idea of that strategy was shown clearly enough in Gethsemane and on Calvary, when He allowed Himself to be reduced to a bloody pulp, knowing that He was still in command and that He would have the last word, for He simply is the first and last and only Word. The Church lives His life and that means she lives His Passion: she, too—at least at times—will be a bloody mess, dying in her humiliation, but not left forever in that state.

Illustrations from history abound. The Arian crisis is often raised, and it should not be brushed aside, for it is enormously relevant to the problems we are facing. Someone who was born around the year 325 and who died around the year 400 would have spent his or her entire life under the shadow of Arianism, in a Church where the vast majority of bishops were heretics or cowards, where the few good bishops were hounded from place to place, where even popes were ineffectual or compromised. A pope excommunicated St. Athanasius, the greatest confessor of the age.

As Newman shows, it was the faithful who kept the Faith. Did they complain that Jesus, the Son of God—the One whose royal divinity they confessed—was sleeping in their boat? Perhaps some did (and there is a way of complaining in the psalms that can be a form of prayer!), but the Faith survived because most of them didn’t lose heart; they held fast, no matter what, knowing that it is not we who choose when we live, but Providence. 

My hypothetical Catholic who lived from 325 to 400 sometimes had to worship out in the desert because the church buildings were stolen from the Catholics by the impostors. He admired the rare figures like St. Athanasius and St. Hilary, but he knew they were vastly outnumbered. That fourth-century Catholic never saw a healthy functional Church, either.

The situation in Reformation England was not too different for the Catholics who lived through it. A man who was born during Henry VIII’s reign and who lived a long life would have seen his country go from Roman Catholicism to Anglo-Catholicism to Calvinism back to Catholicism and finally to Anglicanism. The politicians were complicit except for St. Thomas More; the bishops were complicit except for St. John Fisher. 

Yet there were many great saints from that period, and many unsung heroes known to God alone, who were catapulted into holiness by the crisis. They were forced to seek refuge in Christ and not in princes, in mortal men in whom there is no help. Why did this happen? Why did He allow it to happen? We still do not have answers that can satisfy us in this life, but we can also see God’s hand at work in the stupendous blossoms of sanctity that have graced England, including a renewal of martyrdoms worthy of the ancient Roman Empire.

It seems to me that many today are being driven by fear, including the fear of the dissolution of the “hierarchical” Church or its exposure as a fraud. This fear is generated, or at least made possible, by our inability to see the big picture, or by thinking that we see enough to know it’s irrational and ugly. In any case, we want things to make sense on our own terms. That isn’t how God does things—never has been, never will be. It’s not for nothing that He is said to be infinite mystery. How could it be otherwise? He’s not a giant creature lording it over us (as the serpent in the garden tried to get Adam and Eve to think). He is the root of all. He is in everything and beyond everything.

“It is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers for every question, but to progressively make us aware of mystery. God is not so much the object of our knowledge as He is the cause of our awe,” as Albert Rossi says. Rossi also makes the point, which I’ve come to rely on, that we need to learn to live with unclarity, uncertainty, ambiguity. One could even say it’s a sign of mental health: the ability to go forward without seeing fully; the ability to let things be as they are, without despairing or hyperventilating; the ability to rest content with knowing what is essential. Rossi puts it in three statements: “I know that I don’t know. I know that Christ knows. I trust Him.”

The foundation of fruitless suffering is the lack of friendship with Jesus, just as the foundation of fruitful suffering is union with Him. We will not have, and cannot have, healthy relationships with anyone—including the Church and her leaders and her members—unless we have a relationship with Christ. To the extent that we do not have it, the inherent weakness, the tendency to dissipation in material and mortal things, will prevail.

When Our Lord puts us through a fiery trial, it is because He knows we need this; we need to meet Him there. A priest once said in the confessional: “The place where you are hurting is the place where Jesus wants to meet you. His wounds are your refuge: they have the power to heal your wounds.” But they will not do so if we are busy fleeing Him, tearing out our hair, and questioning whether He loves us or cares about us. That is how we cut ourselves off from the only place that reality is, from the only One who sees it and governs it. The only way to have peace is to be in God’s presence, because there is no peace outside of Him. Really: none at all. How could there be?

Our identity is not in being Catholic or in defending the Church but in being Christ’s (that is what it means to be a “Christian”). Yes, we belong to His Body, but still our fundamental identity is to be His, to be a son in the Son, a beloved son of the Father. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” God says that to each one of us: You, you are my beloved son. There is no healing for wounded sonship and wounded fatherhood outside of the Father and the Son. 

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Do we think the saints are liars? They asked, sought, and knocked, and they received, found, and got in—over and over again, for the past 2,000 years (or more, if we include the saints of the old covenant). We are lacking nothing that they had: we got the whole package. Yet we do have to ask, seek, and knock; it doesn’t happen automatically or by chance. It happens by turning again and again to Him. 

Our problems are usually not intellectual. They are problems of the heart, at the center of our being, not in the airy world of concepts, and therefore not in the realm of apologetics.

One particular cause of psychological unrest today is the battleground of social media, the maelstrom of opinions from semi-educated loudmouths. Living in the midst of this realm can be frustrating and cause us to lose our peace (or to not be able to acquire it in the first place); it prioritizes the immediate, the egregious, and the depressing over the longer vision, the unmoving truth, the sparks of joy. We get buried alive in this avalanche of information. We suffocate from squadrons of pontificating pundits. Christians who find themselves in “panic mode,” undergoing a personal crisis, have a moral obligation to pull back, to withdraw, or at least to restructure their approach to media.

I’m no paragon of virtue by any stretch of the imagination, but I would die—dry up spiritually—if I did not start my day apart from my online work. I’ve tried to erect barriers and boundaries to it. When I get up in the morning, before any device goes on, I pray Prime and read some Scripture; I go to Mass most days, and I take other breaks during the day to say Terce, Sext, or None (or all three if I can manage) so that I can maintain perspective and not lose my peace altogether—or lose my awareness of the one and only relationship that ultimately matters, the One on whom everything else depends. 

Br. Lawrence of the Resurrection called it “the practice of the presence of God.” I’m pretty clumsy at it, but I have enough experience to know that I would perish without it. This discipline of prayer and sacraments has kept me from losing my mind.

That is the challenge of faith, is it not? Jesus says: Come and see. Take up your cross and follow me. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you. That’s it: He invites, He does not compel. He promises everything to the one who gives himself to Him. The only way to know if He is right is to do it, to follow Him and to taste what He offers. 

This is not a platitude but the Gospel truth. Sure, we can call it a leap of faith—but when you have ferocious beasts chasing you and you’re running toward the edge, you’re either going to have to leap into what you believe and hope to be God’s embrace or lie down and let them consume you.

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5 Responses to In the Midst of Crisis, Be Driven by Faith, Not by Fear

  1. Mary Salmond says:

    This essay gives hope. Dr Peter K. reviews history that many of us don’t know and proves that we humans go through these cycles; just because sin puts us in this repetitive cycle. We must look beyond today, have hope, pray & repent daily, and know that God is on our side

    Like

  2. willflower says:

    This is the best thing I have read on this blog. All Catholics need to hear something like this right now. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sally says:

    I agree with willflower. This is a post that comforts, consoles, and reassures us.

    The scripture is clear about asking us to always trust in what God is doing, especially when we don’t understand it.

    ‘Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be perfect in Jesus, than to trust and obey’.

    🤗🌷

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Brother Burrito says:

    Best article on CP&S for years! 100% Christ. 0% factionalism. As it should be.

    Like

  5. Reblog: by Lawrence Morra III
    Zero Lift-Off Only The Beginning
    July 22, 2021

    “It is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers for every question, but to progressively make us aware of mystery. God is not so much the object of our knowledge as He is the cause of our awe,” as Albert Rossi says. Rossi also makes the point, which I’ve come to rely on, that we need to learn to live with clarity, uncertainty, ambiguity. One could even say it’s a sign of mental health: the ability to go forward without seeing fully; the ability to let things be as they are, without despairing or hyperventilating; the ability to rest content with knowing what is essential. Rossi puts it in three statements: “I know that I don’t know. I know that Christ knows. I trust Him.” CP&S (Dr Peter Kwasniewski)

    We’re to seek a personal relationship with Jesus Christ our Savior who was God incarnate as a Man on Earth in the Flesh, the mystery of the Holy Trinity to follow! To say we should “just look in awe at what God is”and not seek Truth in a world that is becoming more chaotic by the day, when it is more vital than ever to question and want to know “what God is in the personage of Christ” by “discerning” through the Holy Ghost; is like the lazy person saying I’ll find something else to do while the roof on his house is caving in during a giant snow storm, because he can’t see what’s actually going on in the atmosphere above his home!

    This man talks about being so concerned about losing his mind which he probably has already done to talk this way. Any of us should want to be like the prophets and seek enlightenment while facing the “unclarity, uncertainty, ambiguity” not accepting but rejecting it and only then we can be determined to overcome those handicaps to rise above them; not wallow in the mire that is building up all around us! That is what got us here to this juncture where the leftist loonies have incorporated every conceivable sinful perversion into our society to where they now say transvestite men in dresses and high heels have the right to use the same bathroom as little girls and adult women; as well as having Story Time Hour in public school systems where these perverts sit with children who have very impressionable minds and basically poison those innocent minds! You people that allow this and are not becoming outraged or not fighting back in your own communities are actually as bad or worse than the liberal radicals who at least admit what they are not donning disguises; that have infiltrated everything previously held as sacred or good, spreading sin to such a level that the bulk of societies are now aiding abetting such evil crimes against humanity and God’s commandments! Supposed going along to get along!

    What I wrote today in another reblog dovetails and applies perfectly to all this anemic rhetoric being said here!

    “In abortion, Satan achieves the greatest injury to God: he offends Him as Creator, making the mother the murderer of her own child; he offends Him as Lord, usurping the right of life and death over innocent creatures and claiming the right to violate the Fifth Commandment with impunity; he offends Him as Redeemer, nullifying the fruits of Christ’s Passion for creatures killed without the grace of Baptism; he offends Him as Father, while also vilifying the Sacred Maternity of the Most Holy Virgin.” Posted on July 22, 2021 by Catholicism Pure & Simple

    This excerpt to me is clear and concise Truth! It angers me! The father of all lies has manipulated the human family from day one and now in this high tech scientific and even highfalutin modern lifestyle, human beings have subjugated themselves to something lower than the most primitive beasts on the planet! This is the epitome of human beings serving “the beast” which is this concocted and precisely orchestrated system, that multitudes accept and adhere to; not only the poor innocent young female who has been victimized not only by carnal sin from Satan, but, by many of her fellow human beings who are serving the beast system and spreading its foul debauchery straight from hell.

    All Catholics that say they are against these things, but want to remain placid and leave it all up to the Almighty, are the true “Lukewarm” wishy-washy that God tells us in Holy Scriptures, is what he will spit out! Many of them would rather play games and sit around letting the world go to hell in a hand basket than commit and be ready to fight for Jesus Christ as the martyrs and saints did or still do! They don’t want to do the work required to truly carry their own cross here, but, like the idea of letting others do all the heavy lifting, and that is why this world is in the worst state it has ever been; with a modern generation over many decades now that have been more interested in self-aggrandizement, materialism and pleasure seeking; than anything else. So materialistic and vain; not seeing the forest for the trees, or even caring as they do their “own thing” and “get all they can while they can!” Don’t we not see this in our leaders and those with the most power and influence; in spades? They serve the beast this materialistic corrupted system and Satan without a doubt; and then the citizenry are falling into alignment with that same way of thinking sucking up whatever is dished out to them just as we have seen with the false pandemic! No ancient time or period even comes close in comparison to the evil which is exponentially increasing daily! Many prefer to gloss things over with delusional indifference or even self-righteousness and think they have done right; when they are so wrong!

    Revelation 3:16 “15 I know your deeds; you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were one or the other! 16So because you are lukewarm— neither hot nor cold— I am about to vomit you out of My mouth! 17You say, ‘I am rich; I have grown wealthy and need nothing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.…”

    2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions”

    I’ve witnessed it time and again how so many on this internet sitting and just coasting along talking all day about nothing that really proves their willingness to fight for the good and what is right; truly righteous individuals are extremely hard to find on this social media! They often either play games seeking some kind of attention or distraction and want adulation as in followers; sometimes they are forming their little clubs where they converse about things; getting them nowhere and more importantly doing “nothing” about the horrors that riddle our societies.

    1 John 3:8-10 “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

    Not taking a stand in defense of the innocent and against all the calamities of our corrupted system all around us, Ways of the World, is not righteous or loving one’s brothers and sisters! It’s become devil may care!

    The basic truth is very concise and clear and there is no excuse to not see it and live it! The prophecies tell us in the Book of Truth what will come and how it will unfold; so to say we are not aware and so therefore must leave it all up to the Lord, sort of letting the chips fall where they may, because we have no say in it; is a LIE! Discerning power is available through the Holy Ghost the Comforter, who will reveal all things needed to those who truly are righteous and worthy in the eyes of our Savior! These fools who say I just mind my business and do my quiet act in my own little corner or way; are not carrying any cross, they are phony and cowards hiding behind fools.

    “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” 1 Peter 1:14-16

    Archbishop Viganò is a warrior for Jesus Christ standing alone many times speaking against the “tide of lies and deception” that’s been going on for many decades in front of our eyes!

    We are clearly in End Time and the horrors to come will overwhelm those that are Lukewarm as it should be, for their not being willing to take a final stand for Christ! The Church is in complete disarray and the Devil is getting his due with a fraud Vicar of Christ Bergoglio, who is bringing the Church down to the level of the Beast NWO System and Satan; he advocates and paves the way for the antichrist; and any Christians that won’t reject that with all of their might and heart speaking out or otherwise, along with other capabilities; are doomed with him! All are being tested like no other time in history other than; when Christ was crucified!

    Many people are being lulled into this captive mode of thinking, how if we just go along to get along it will all work out fine and dandy! Not going to happen, this world is falling away quickly and will End. So, “when the going gets tough the tough get going” not sitting like old fools in a sewing circle and hoping for the best! It actually takes work, pain and suffering to get the job done, as well as fight when it is required! If people back during the “Great Generation” mostly thought as many people do today, the tyrants and murderers would have taken over the world many years ago! And, now they have the best chance in all of time to do so, as we can rest assured this is Communist China’s absolute goal; with people like Biden and Trudeau appeasing the evil Dragon, to allow the slow takeover of free nations, while many depots within our nations have been bought off and sold their souls not only to the beast system; but to Satan! The CCP rules with an iron inhuman fist and are true atheists not caring one iota about “God or His children” only “lust for power and complete control” is what they care about!

    I believe that sister Lisa explains quite well in the following!
    This from “What is “Righteous Anger”?”
    “How can I know whether I’m feeling that or just being a hothead?”
    Lisa Harper (christianitytoday)

    I grew up believing anger was a “bad” emotion. So I’ve needed several years of Christian counseling even to admit I get angry, much less to learn I can express those feelings righteously! Thankfully, God’s Word sets clear parameters for getting peeved.

    What does God say about this? The bad news for hotheads is that Scripture contains many more verses warning believers against blowing their cool than verses advocating such behavior. The writer of Proverbs connects anger with foolishness: “Fools quickly show that they are upset, but the wise ignore insults” (Proverbs 12:16, NCV). And the apostle Paul recommends letting our heavenly Father fight our battles: “My friends, do not try to punish others when they wrong you, but wait for God to punish them with his anger. It is written: ‘I will punish those who do wrong; I will repay them,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19, NCV).

    Sometimes, however, God allows his people to fuss and remain faithful. Such is the case when King David furrows his brow and huffs:

    “God, I wish you would kill the wicked!
    Get away from me, you murderers!
    They say evil things about you.
    Your enemies use your name thoughtlessly.
    Lord, I hate those who hate you;
    I hate those who rise up against you.
    I feel only hate for them;
    they are my enemies” (Psalm 139:19–22, NCV).

    Or when Nehemiah gets upset after learning about the wealthy Israelites’ exploitation of the poor: “Then I was very angry when I had heard … these words” (Nehemiah 5:6, NASB).

    What’s noteworthy in these situations is that David called down curses on sworn enemies of God, and Nehemiah directed his irritation at the “haves” repressing the “have-nots.” Both men were angry because of ungodly people or activities.

    And Jesus expressed anger—at the Pharisees who exhibited such hard hearts, and at the crass commercialism that sullied the temple (; )—to convey extreme displeasure over sin. Those reasons are the key to righteous anger.

    How does this affect me? As Christ-followers, we’re totally appropriate getting upset over sin, too. Evils such as abuse, racism, pornography, and child sex trafficking should incense us.

    But no matter how reprehensible the people or activities we’re condemning, we still aren’t justified to sin in our responses: “When you are angry, do not sin, and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day” (Ephesians 4:26, NCV). Those of us with confrontational personalities might want to ask ourselves the question, Is my motive to be right or to be righteous? before ripping into the offending parties.

    Such considerations also help us be pokey in getting peeved: “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19–20, ESV). Instead of replying immediately, simply counting to ten before reacting usually leads to much better results in a contentious situation.

    Then after we take offense, we should take redemptive action. Christians must get involved with organizations working to free children from slavery and volunteer at shelters working to protect battered women. We must lead the charge against hatred and oppression and cruelty!

    “Ultimately, if our outrage results in restoring people into loving, healing relationships with Jesus, it’s righteous anger.”

    Lisa Harper has a Masters in Theology with an emphasis in biblical studies from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis. She’s a sought-after speaker and has written several books, including Holding Out for a Hero: A New Spin on Hebrews (Tyndale) and What the Bible Is All About for Women: A Book of Devotions (Regal). Visit her at http://www.lisaharper.net.

    Waking people up from their distractions or even apathy is my goal in this world; as I can speak and write what I must; to do so! Because you and I know that what is going on in this world today is exponentially far worse than all those sins and wrongs that were committed by the Pharisees that Jesus actually reprimanded and condemned! What do we think would be His reaction if here now to deal directly with this horror! It’s certainly coming and will be the End!

    God bless and keep in constant communion with our Lord Jesus Christ and heavenly Father through the Holy Ghost. Amen.

    Brother in Christ Jesus,
    Lawrence Morra III

    Liked by 1 person

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