A Lenten Reflection on Faith

A Lenten Reflection on Faith

They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar on eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.” (Is 40:31) 

Chastisements and different kinds of calamities are breaking out all over the world. For the Church in Western Europe, North America and Australia, Good Friday is being repeated in an immensely greater and more universal form than that which occurred at the moment of the Christ’s Passion and death on the Cross. Hardly a day goes by without seeing the enactment of legislation contrary to Christian values and detrimental to the moral upbringing of children. In the Church herself, there is deep pessimism. Many are worried about how our parishes will look in 5-, 10- or 15-years’ time. Will they cease to exist? Lent is a perfect time for renewing faith and strengthening one’s relationship with God.

According to Mental Health Australia`s 2023 Report, over 50% of the population find that a rising cost of living is having an effect on their mental health. In contrast to the data of 2022, Australians’ general mental health remains the same, with a slight increase of people feeling happier and connected. However, there has been a growth among Australians trying to obtain professional mental health aid.

Nothing escapes God’s notice or eludes His control. Do we as church people believe this, since we hear that the offices of psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, and diverse types of healers are overflowing, while so few seek relief and light in the Eucharist and Adoration. 

In no way does God desire man to be engulfed in fear since the phrase “Be not afraid” can be found in the Scriptures as many as 365 times in this or similar ways. “The same night the LORD appeared to him and said: I am the God of Abraham, your father. Do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for the sake of Abraham, my servant” (Gen 26:24). Likewise, it is no coincidence that a word `trust` with its variations is mentioned over 190 times in the Bible depending on which English translation we read. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your intelligence do not rely” (Prov 3:5).

God is preparing something new

Can Sacred Scripture help us to understand that God`s ways are often beyond human understanding? Indeed, it can. 

The Babylonian exile was no exception. The people of Judah refused to heed the so-called First Prophet Isaiah who foresaw an impending tragedy and made attempts to persuade the elites to trust in God rather than enter political and military alliances with worldly powers, but to no avail. 

Their faith was too weak to listen to God. In 598/597 King Nebuchadrezzar II marched on the Kingdom of Judah in Canaan and lay siege to its capital city of Jerusalem. He made two large deportations of the higher officials, the priests, and the wealthier citizens, one of these in 597 and the other in 586. Only some of the poorest stayed on to till the land (2 Kgs 25:12). The capital city was ruined, and the most sacred site of Israel, the temple, was destroyed. This was an exceedingly grim time for them, as various questions swirled in their minds. 

Why did the merciful God permit this? What was God’s role in such a dire situation? The book of Lamentations, written by an anonymous prophet, gives a clear answer.

 “The Lord has become like an enemy; he has destroyed Israel. He has destroyed all its palaces, laid in ruins its strongholds, and multiplied in daughter Judah mourning and lamentation.” (Lam 2:5)

Times of sorrow are accordingly times of religious growth. If, therefore, God allowed this to happen, it was so that Israel could receive a specific lesson, so that He could show them even greater works, and broaden their understanding of His actions. By destroying the Jerusalem temple, God overturned the conviction that it was the only place where God dwells and should be worshiped. Some scholars assert that Israelites experienced “the collective trauma of exile that led to a process of religious renewal” (Deut 4: 28-30). During the Babylonian captivity for the first time houses of prayer, later called synagogues, were instituted. The Babylonian Talmud, a collection of rabbinic teachings and discussions on Jewish law, ethics and customs was compiled. What is especially significant is – “overpowering Babylonian culture played an important, if not decisive, role in the  emergence of monotheism.” It was a period in history used by God to cleanse His people from idolatry. The upshot was that Messianic expectation was especially fevered among Jews as the first century got underway.

Every Christian child can easily recall the inspiring story about when the mighty King Nebuchadnezzar condemned three Jewish men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, to be burned alive by being thrown into a fiery furnace. Their faith-filled resistance was met with God`s mercy and impressed the tyrant.

Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent his angel to deliver the servants that trusted in him; they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” (Dan 3:28)

The Blessed Virgin Mary has been given by Heaven for the end times

Where, then, should one seek spiritual strength? 

Our Lady is not merely a depiction in a visual representation, as some people seem to believe. Our Heavenly Mother actively engages in the pursuit of salvation for every soul, a commitment she has upheld consistently. Her demeanour has never been passive; even during her Son’s earthly tenure, she acted, albeit not necessarily conforming to human expectations. 

The Virgin of Nazareth shared in her son’s experiences during moments of darkness, such as when his apostolic endeavours were abruptly halted. It is essential that we keep profound trust in the presence and ongoing efforts of our maternal figure, especially during our moments of vulnerability when combating malevolent forces. Through her intercession, she beseeches that her Son’s saving plan be fully realized.

Even the apostles, overwhelmed by fear and uncertainty amidst the tribulations faced by their leader, found solace under Mary’s guidance. In the mist of earth`s dark night, she accompanied them in prayer within the Cenacle. Later, when the Mother of God was standing beneath the cross, she accepted all people in the person of the beloved disciple as sons and daughters to be cared for and to be reborn unto eternal life. (John 19. 25:27). Today’s remnant is those who have been called to repentance and faith in Christ, and cling to Our Lady. 

“The victory that will come will be the victory of the Holy Virgin Mary” – the Servant of God, Primate of Poland, Cardinal August Hlond SDB (+1948)

On February 19, 1994, a contemporary Polish mystic, Alicja Lenczewska (+2012), had a brief encounter with God. “Today Jesus is weeping over the world, as he wept over Jerusalem, as he did over the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, than which this world is much worse. As before God guarded the people who obeyed to him and were not defiled by sin, so he now seeks to guard those who abide in His love. What the ark was to Noah’s family and what the departure from Sodom was to Lot to avoid destruction, so the ROSARY represents today.”   

“One day the Church will shine again as in the days of its greatest glory. It will be a cause of amazement even to the Angels of God; a joy to the Saints in Heaven; a consolation and great comfort for all the just on earth; mercy and salvation for a vast number of my straying children; a severe and definitive condemnation of Satan and his many followers. As if by magic he will find himself empty-handed and in the end the victory will be exclusively my Son’s and mine: this will be the triumph of my Immaculate Heart in the world.” Donald W. Montrose, Bishop of Stockton, found nothing contrary to faith or morals in this tremendously hopeful message by Fr. Stefano Gobbi. 

A few pieces of advice 

Pessimism is a cunning enemy of faith in Christ. At its core lies unbelief, which is just a lack of trust in His omnipotence. No matter how dim the prospects are, we must continue to march through the gloom holding the rosary high. 

Even little sins can cause other sins. When you are wallowing in a state of sadness you open the gate of your heart to sin. King David started down the slippery slope by staying home and letting his eyes linger a while on Bathsheba. (2 Sm 11:2) 

Making a Holy Hour is an antidote to self-pity. Man kneeling in humble adoration brings Satan`s power low. Hope is born to fallen man who can feel gratitude to the Maker rather than give way to self-pity. He can behold God`s saving plan. 

Extreme prudence is essential. Too often the media captures our attention and inundates us with thousands of hazardous impressions, all of which subtly shape us in ways we hardly realize. Meanwhile, God wants to free us from the shackles of fear. If the news is producing the rotten fruit of anxiety, it’s time to turn it off. 

In conclusion

It is worth mentioning the Third Person of the Trinity – the Holy Spirit. The crisis in the Church appears to be an opportunity for her renewal. It is true that the Church will never be the same as it once was. However, it might be so because the Holy Spirit has deemed that She must be more beautiful and certain matters need to be discarded. Perhaps, soon, the people of the Church will have to relinquish almost everything except their relationship with Christ and Mary, the proclamation of the Gospel. 

I believe that after enduring the darkness of Good Friday we will bask in the refulgent glory of the Resurrection Morning. Let us not lose faith. 

Our Lady of Czestochowa, Queen of Poland, and Saint John Paul II, orate pro nobis!

 A postscript:

The outcome of the October parliamentary elections for many people was like a bolt from the blue. On December 11, 2023, Good Friday came to Catholic Poland. The takeover by the globalist Donald Tusk, supported by a coalition of left-wing and neoliberal parties launched a neo-Marxist steamroller that might be quickly on its way to becoming formerly Catholic Poland. It seems that nothing will stop it. 

Yet, tens of thousands of Poles still say the rosary every day asking for God`s intervention. As the Blessed Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski said: “where there is great trust in Mary and faith in Her victory, God works through her wonderful miracles of His power.”   

A charismatic priest, Fr. Dominik Chmielewski SDB, the founder of the Warriors of Mary, calls on all people of good will to offer nighty prayers, the rosary, fast, suffering for this country under the aegis St. Andrew Bobola. “This year will be a year of struggle for the use of the Poles and Poland in God`s plans” he says. 

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Written by
Paul Suski