On Modern Society’s Moral Degeneration and its Remedies
“Everything around you is passing, and everything is falling apart; only the glory of God remains. Therefore, renounce everything that distances you from the Lord. Adore Him alone, because He is the only true God. I am with you and I will remain with you. I am especially praying for the shepherds, that they may be worthy representatives of my Son and may lead you with love on the way of truth. Thank you.”
(excerpt of message of Our Lady of Medjugorje, Sept. 2, 2011)
November 2011: Part 2: The Shield of Faith
“…besides all these, taking the shield of faith,
with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one.” (Eph 6:16)
In 1962 the U.S. Supreme Court banned prayer from public school classrooms; and in subsequent cases prayer by teachers or administrators (or planned or sanctioned by them) at school functions, such as sports events and graduations, has been banned. Only prayer organized by students, without any kind of input from school personnel, is now allowed in schools. In a shocking case in Castroville, Texas this past school year, the valedictorian was told that she could not pray as part of her graduation speech. This directive was reversed when a Christian legal defense group took the case to court. It is an example of how some organizations and institutions have extended this spiritual war even beyond legal prohibitions.
In these and other ways, our society has been bringing about the “passing” of faith, “bequeathing” to our children a secular society in which, even in many social settings, it is unacceptable to express faith in God, or even to use His Name. It occurred to me that, in this spiritual vacuum, we urgently need champions of faith to inspire us to stand firm and “take the shield of faith,” no matter how “politically incorrect” that may be. David, who slew the giant Goliath, is just such a champion.
When David decided to fight the giant, Goliath, he was confident that he would kill him. Why? Not because he had confidence in himself, but because he had unshakeable faith in the Lord. In 1 Sam. 17, we read that he said, “…who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”(v. 26).
King Saul offered his armor to David, who didn’t own any armor, because he was only a shepherd boy, who had nonetheless already killed lions and bears (with faith in God), who had attacked his father’s sheep. But David turned the offer down, because, he told the king, he had never used armor before. Insteadhe “put on the…armor of God...He was “strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Eph 6:10-11)… Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, or wallet; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine” (1 Sam 17:40).
When Goliath approached David, he said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand…that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hand” (vs. 44, 47) He put one of the stones into his sling and slung it, striking Goliath on his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. Then David, who had no sword, ran and stood over the Philistine and killed him with his own sword.
How did David possess such extraordinary faith? In the midst of an army of experienced warriors, he was an inexperienced youth. I believe that his great faith was the fruit of the time he spent as a shepherd, alone with only his sheep and the living God. “Living God” was not a term that he had memorized; it expressed his living experience with God. He not only believed in God; he knew Him. David is believed to have written somewhere close to half of the Psalms: beautiful heart expressions of a man who loved the Lord and trusted Him with all of his most intimate emotions. Author of the Shepherd Psalm (Psalm 23), he who was a shepherd knew the incomparable love of the Good Shepherd, who leads us to “green pastures” and “still waters,” who “restores our souls” and defends and “comforts”us with His “rod” and His “staff”; who never leaves us. “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” It is God who is goodness and mercy.
We are all capable of becoming “champions of faith,” each of us in the vocations and missions that the Lord calls us to. In order for our faith to grow into those heroic dimensions, we must spend time with the living God. In solitude and silence, we must learn to surrender our hearts to the Sacred and Merciful Heart of Jesus; we must truly experience God as our Good Shepherd, and more truly as our loving Father.
If you haven’t been spending time with Him every day, I encourage you to set aside a time every day—even if for only 5 minutes in the beginning. If you are consistent in spending that time with Him, your desire to spend time with your Father will grow, and the length of time that you spend will increase. It is this “quiet time” spent with our God that is the remedy for the loss of faith in our increasingly godless society. It is the growth of faith in our individual hearts that will increase the faith in our nations.
M. Nadine, in her book “God’s Armor,” shares with us her conversation with Jesus about faith (pg. 42):
There is nothing natural about the gift of faith or any of these gifts. They are supernatural and are given to us to help us do supernatural things. I asked the Lord, “What kept You on the water? Peter didn’t do very well.” Jesus said, “My Father’s love.” Jesus was always held in the Father’s love. The Father’s love is what ultimately moves behind the gift of faith. It is the power of His love. The Father’s love is like the engine in a car; it gives it the power to move. Once we begin to trust in that kind of love, then we begin to trust in the Person who is Love. We know then that this Love, the Father Himself, will carry us through.”