6 Ways to Carry On in Our Current Crisis

COMMENTARY: So many are asking, ‘What do we do now?’ Here is my humble plan.

A man wearing a face mask prays in front of a mural outside Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel in Los Angeles, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020.
A man wearing a face mask prays in front of a mural outside Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel in Los Angeles, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. (photo: Ringo Chiu / Shutterstock)

People sometimes treat me like they think I possess some wisdom. Perhaps it is because I am old or that I defended Humanae Vitae or because I act like I know it all. 

I try to impress upon people that any wisdom I have demonstrated over the years has not been mine but that of the Church. When my mother had dementia, I occasionally found myself more or less making up answers to try to satisfy her incessant questioning. Once she asked me why they made waffle cones so big. I told her few people ate them; they would eat some of a waffle cone and throw the rest out. She asked me, “How do you know that?” As I searched for an answer, she turned to my nephew and said, “You ask her a question and get an answer but have no idea whether it is true or not.” 

She had my number.

Those of us who are old find it hard not to give advice when asked, so, on the off chance that I might have learned something in my 70 years, I am going to try to give some kind of answer to the question: “What do we do now?”

“Now” means in a time when it seems the current U.S. government is going to do everything it can to make abortion at all stages of development legal, and perhaps even free; is going to make contraception free through health-care plans; and is going to promote transgenderism at every turn[1] . The national debt will certainly grow, and there are legitimate fears that we will “belong” to China (I am trying to persuade those who might hide Christians in their attics to learn how to say in Chinese, “No, there are no Chinese in my attic.”) 

The “now” also refers to a time when we have been forbidden to live our lives in any normal fashion while we watch our beloved ones die alone, the poor get poorer, productive people slide into poverty, and the suicide rate climbs alarmingly. 

We fear death for ourselves and others from COVID-19 or fear we will learn the dangers of COVID-19 have been outrageously exaggerated and all the draconian measures that have been taken were largely ineffective but perhaps even unnecessary.

The scariness of “now” is compounded with a fear that the leaders of our Church are not doing enough to counter the government’s plans to curb our right to worship and practice our religion. 

We actually have come to trust virtually no one — even ourselves, since our own views flip-flop day by day. We believe fake news is everywhere. We can’t follow the experts since they agree on next to nothing. We even are sometimes duped by outlandish conspiracy theories since they have more plausibility than what we are hearing on the news.

First, the obvious response to what to do is to pray — more and harder than ever.  The Holy Spirit has a plan and will disclose to us what we need to know. We  may not need to know much more than that we need to pray more and harder and  listen very attentively to try to hear God’s voice.  

We need to pray that we will have the wisdom and courage to do what needs to be done to live our faith and protect our freedoms.

By praying more, I mean we need to set aside a dedicated time each day for prayer. We need to spend less time on social media or trivial pursuits. Read the Bible more; say more rosaries; go to daily Mass more often. Fast and sacrifice more. Give more alms. We know the drill; we need to execute it.

Second, we must forge strong relationships with those who see the same impending difficulties, if not horrors, that we see already and that we have very good reason to think are coming. Those who have the gift of hospitality should be hosting gatherings for people to pray, to console and encourage each other, especially those who have made brave stands. We should brainstorm about what practical measures should be taken.

Third, I believe it would be helpful if the leaders among us came up with a plan, which would help people around the United States work together. In his book Live Not by Lies, Rod Dreher told of Charter 77, “a 1977 document signed by over two hundred artists, intellectuals, and others, demanding that the [Czech Republic’s] communist regime respect human rights. Some of its signatories, including the playwright and future president Václav Havel, and Václav Benda, landed in prison for their advocacy ” (page 142).

Fourth, we need to prepare the young for what is coming. The above passage from Dreher, continues: “We pulled our children into our struggles. … They had the feeling that we were all members of a group and had a common goal. They were raised to know that they were fighting for a good cause, for justice.”

Help your children understand that life is a battle and that our country is now in the battle of its life against corrupt politicians who have sold us out to China. We in America for too long have thought we are immune from occupation and immune from a wholesale collapse of our culture. Very late and very sadly, we are learning we may lose our democracy. (Sadly, some of us think we have already lost our Church.)

The work of home-schoolers and those who attend good Christian schools with classical education and many of the charter schools is indispensable for the reclaiming of your culture. Sadly, in the coming “occupation,” our freedom to home school and send young people to private schools may be denied to us.

Those who send their children to public schools and weak Catholic schools will need to do important remedial work at home. Dreher reports that one couple in communist-occupied Czechoslovakia taught truth and virtue by way of books and movies. One woman read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy aloud six times to her children (page 138). 

There are wonderful movies that depict heroic action in times of persecution. A Man for All Seasons is an indispensable classic; the recent A Hidden Life is another. There is a long list from which to choose, which would include Schindler’s List, Of Gods and Men, Amazing Grace, Hotel Rwanda, Braveheart, Spartacus, For Greater Glory, Lord of the Rings, The Scarlet and the Black, The Hiding Place, and more secular movies such as High Noon. And do consult the work of the Educational Guidance Institute that provides study and discussion guides for a host of classic films that teach good values. 

Fifth, we need to stay or get involved in political action.  I have always voted and contributed to various candidates and more or less followed politics but have not really been involved in campaigns. That is going to change. I will go door to door for good candidates and make phone calls and do what I can to get good people elected. I will continue to vote even when I think my vote is useless since I don’t want to hand the election to those I oppose.

Sixth, we do our best to remain of good cheer and cling to the conviction and hope that God has a plan for those who love, fear and obey him.