by David M. Carollo –
In 2020 and 2021, in response to the directives of government officials, businesses and churches were closed to stop the spread of the Covid virus. Many felt that this was a stronger response than necessary, and that alternate solutions could have been found to assure the health of the populace. Presumptively well-meaning, the results will long be debated, and the long-term effects of those actions taken across the world will be studied. Businesses that were benchmarks of the communities are no longer there and others have been altered permanently. Behind the scenes in most all these instances are many personal and family tragedies. The damage to people from the effects of business failures and unemployment are yet to be fully realized. Not to minimize these things, but we understand that adversity builds character, and these times can present a great opportunity to help us refocus on what is important in life, specifically our spiritual well-being.
Nothing has had a more serious impact than the separation from God. Closing of churches was a drastic step, especially when somewhat questionable businesses were allowed to continue operations. Whatever our individual opinions are regarding this, the damage suffered by the Church cannot be denied and must lead us to work hard on the repairs now necessary.
I have visited and spoken at many churches and Catholic communities this past year. Pastors and bishops lament the fact that the return rate from online Mass is much lower than hoped. People got comfortable watching from home. I am not talking against the fact that through technology we can substitute during times of emergency, but we are not techno-beings on a permanent track through a virtual world. Asking God to come to us in a spiritual Communion is proper when there is no other option, but unless we receive Him directly, we cannot claim true communion with Him over time. Virtual participation at Mass cannot be the new normal. To be clear, we stream our daily Mass and major events from the Blue Army Shrine, and many people watch to hear the wonderful homilies given by our chaplain and guest bishops and priests. Also, many who cannot leave their homes follow us. We are happy to offer this.
What is the solution to restoring the zeal of previous times? The decline in church attendance precedes the pandemic, so the disinterest that plagues us today is not surprising. We can lament the present situation as it pertains to both society and the Faith, or we can double down on our efforts to elevate and follow the teachings of Holy Mother Church.
The Fatima message, which we promote, directs us to do this. Teaching this hopeful idea to those who look to us should incite optimism. We can never fall into the trap that evil is more powerful than us. Certainly, it is not more powerful than God. His will prevails in the end, and He wills that we stand even taller during times such as this. We must become even brighter as things get darker. The enemy wishes to bring about despair and discouragement, instilling in us a mentality of defeat. We will counter that with an optimism that penetrates the darkest minds and overcomes any thought of defeat.
We must also double down in our support for our clergy, many of whom are dealing with discouragement as they see the importance of church participation and the journey to holiness become less of a priority in this newly defined space. Make no mistake about it; there is no new normal when it comes to our relationship with God. The foundation laid by our Old Testament ancestors and completed by Christ will continue to be the standard of our lives. Any redefinition of this can only lead to a rejection of what we stand for. It is an insult to God.
Our focus is still strongly on the First Saturday’s devotion. When enough people fulfil her requests, the triumph will come. Go to our website, bluearmy.com, and download the “Great Promise Passport” to begin your journey of fulfilling Our Lord’s wish that we make reparation to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. The beautiful consecration made on March 25th by the Holy Father, in union with the many bishops, priests and laity, will bring great fruit if we cooperate with the grace of that day. We can bring this about by our efforts and devotion.
We are an Easter people and in this glorious season we can only be filled with optimism. By being faithful to the recitation of the holy rosary and being consecrated to Our Lady, we can bring about grace to convert and to reconvert this ailing world. We should look to the words of St. Louis De Montfort and direct all to follow the path to Mary:
“Have you strayed from the path leading to heaven? Then call on Mary, for her name means “Star of the Sea, the North Star which guides the ships of our souls during the voyage of this life, and she will guide you to the harbor of eternal salvation.” (The Secret of Mary)
We must follow her and stand as an example to the world and to our fellow Catholics who are still separated from us in this post-pandemic time. Let us come together and join in a loud voice with the praises of God in the pews of our churches once again.
God bless you and Mary keep you in her Immaculate Heart.
David Carollo is the Executive Director of the World Apostolate of Fatima, USA and the National Blue Army Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima. He wrote this for his May 2022 Voice of Fatima e-newsletter.