These last days are very trying on us all. What should we do…?

"Recollect ourselves. Concentrate on doing well whatever we do. Focus our will in spite of the demands of our passions. Learn how to live in the presence of God, not yielding to the inclinations of the passions, but according to virtue. Learn how to live according to a rule of conduct that directs, protects and produces fruits – a rule that leads us to joy, to a great joy that nothing and nobody can take away from us.

Perhaps we will not be always up to this; but that should not frighten or stop us – failure is a lesson in the school of life, by which we become aware of our own misery and learn to rest on God, Who wishes to live, battle and work in us.

Whatever happens, we must go on, because we have learned that nothing is more exhausting than to be enslaved by our own uncontrolled and insatiable desires.

However, we must be on our guard, because the world is powerful and we are quite weak! We must not delude ourselves: the systematic destruction of human nature, begun long ago, continues unrelentingly, by multiplying the illusions which inebriate souls without nourishing them. The world, boasting of its technical progress, reduces man to the condition of a robot and thereby hurtles to its damnation because it is nothing more than a slave-making machine. In a mad rush, it runs blindly to the abyss.

It is a disaster: our nature, already wounded by original sin, is thus degraded further. Are we still men? The world exercises upon us a dehumanizing pressure because of the constant exacerbation of our passions, the frenzy of our senses stirred up by incessant incitements to pleasure, to luxuries, to selfishness…

In particular, modern man has completely lost the sense of making any effort. He has not even a vague understanding of it.
His ideal is to attain the greatest pleasure with the minimum of effort. Forgetfulness of self, the sense of the common good, the respect for authority, politeness – no one practices these virtues any more. Only selfishness remains, and in its basest aspirations. We are deluded. Man cannot be happy in this way. His happiness must be sought beyond himself, going away from himself, in the gift and the dedication of his whole being to a higher reality. We have become zombies in pursuit of shadows, in an exhausting and vain race.

This natural disaster has supernatural consequences: unable to recollect himself, to be in silence, or even to devote himself wholeheartedly to his activities (not only to work, but also to a just and healthy relaxation through reading, music, social life, the contact with nature), man cannot find God present at the center of his soul and in the realities of daily life. Thus, “frustrated” in his desires by the normal contradictions of life, modern man reacts by turning inward into himself.

Even on the natural level, Satan tries to ape God; instead of leaving man to live peacefully and humbly in the presence of God, Satan induces him to be self-centered… and suffocates him!

What should be our reaction to this silent war that Satan wages against us? We must fully engage our will by fulfilling our duty of state as faithfully as possible. This simple fidelity is not a superfluous task. Actually, it constitutes the heart of all the work that we must undertake. Accustomed to ease and carelessness, we will want to break free, to flee, to be discouraged. It is essential to fight back. Eternity is at stake. The battle will be hard, but fortunately God’s grace will not be lacking.

This is a manly endeavor, one that will help us to overcome our vain gratifications and enable us to grow.

It will be a strenuous work, painful, sometimes even superhuman, but it will be necessary to keep fighting, knowing well that victory lies in the fight itself, not in a specific result. It is a total and long-term commitment. Sometimes we will want to flee, to prevaricate and, unsurprisingly, perhaps sometimes we will even yield to such temptations. Weakness is our lot, but it is not an insurmountable obstacle, nor a pretext for our ordinary cowardice.

Greatness of soul, commitment, gift of oneself, devotion – these words ring out as a battle cry in the wind. But we must be cautious: words may also feed our delusions. We must make our resolutions take root in our very being, by recollecting and giving ourselves completely, freely, voluntarily in each one of our actions, amidst perhaps many defeats but never surrendering. This will be the occasion to make ours the family motto of the Blessed Charles de Foucauld: Never retreat!

Fr Yves Le Roux