Many Catholics are well aware of the crisis in the Church. They are often tempted to be discouraged and abandon the struggle. The devil makes things worse by whispering in our ears the stronger temptation that the gates of Hell have prevailed against the Church contrary to the words of Our Lord (Matt. 16:18).
With so many reasons to be discouraged, we must cultivate a supernatural hope in God’s plan of triumph in history that will protect us against despair, discouragement and cynicism.
Our hope in Christ and His Most Holy Mother must not lead us to the inaction of quietism. The virtue of hope does not work this way. Our hope should impel us to action for the glory of God and the good of His Church.
In other eras of crisis in the Church, the faithful have experienced and overcome similar temptations. Examples abound.
The Protestant revolt of the sixteenth century saw entire Episcopates abandon the Church and embrace heresy. In response, the Church convoked the Council of Trent to fight the new heresy. Good Popes like the great Saint Pius V appeared on the scene. There were intrepid warriors of the Faith like Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Saint Charles Borromeo, Saint Peter Canisius.
True reformers, or rather, restorers of the decadent religious orders emerged, such as the great Carmelite Saint Teresa of Avila and the great Franciscan Saint Peter of Alcantara.
This work of regeneration, known as the Counter-Reformation, recovered much of the terrain that the Church had lost.
At the same time, Spain and Portugal, which were practically on the sidelines of the Protestant revolt, sent their ships abroad. They brought this renewed Catholicism to the New World and Asia. A powerful new Christianity appeared on this side of the Atlantic and the East.
The next great crisis in the Church was Jansenism, followed by the great storm of the French Revolution, which practically destroyed the visible structures of the Church in France. This tempest later spread the germs of egalitarianism, relativism and liberalism throughout Europe. These errors gave rise to “Catholic liberalism.”
The Catholic reaction was a revival of religion. The Church was blessed with great saints, such as Saint John Vianney and Saint John Bosco. There were the pontificates of two great anti-liberal Popes: Gregory XVI and Pius IX.
The history of the Church should give us reasons for hope in the present crisis, which shakes the Church to Her foundations. God takes advantage of each crisis to serve as an occasion for the growth of His Church. The only condition for success is that we remain faithful in these times of great affliction.
During periods of crisis, God demands greater fidelity from us. It is not enough that we be regular, average or typical Catholics. We cannot be simply pious souls that live carefree lives. We must be fighters, soldiers of Christ, faithful defenders of Holy Mother Church. Only then, can we expect victory!