I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to write about for this post. I had a lot of ideas swirling around in my head, but nothing was coming together. I kept asking God to tell me what He wanted me to write about. Then, after I watched a particularly heart-wrenching episode of the popular British program Downton Abbey, and reflected on some real life sorrowful events that took place in my own family over the course of the previous week, I believe I heard God speaking to my heart about this post. The seemingly disjointed ideas I had in my mind started to come together into a coherent message; and the message is as the title says – Now is the time.
Now is the time. Well, that’s kind of vague. Now is the time for what, exactly? I’m one of the world’s greatest procrastinators, so in my mind, now is usually NOT the time. Later is the time. Always later. Ironically, even this post is being written at nearly the last minute before it’s supposed to go live. But I know this is a flaw of mine. I know deep down that later is not really the time, because we might never see later. And that is what God was communicating to me. Life is precious, and short. And unpredictable. We may be problem-free and merry in the morning, and facing our own deaths by nightfall. For some things that we might be putting off, it’s okay if later never comes. But for the important things, we can’t bet on later. Now is the time.
Now is the time to make amends. God is calling us to reconcile with Him. If there are major sins we have committed that we are holding onto—whatever they may be—now is the time to let go of them and seek forgiveness. There is no unforgivable sin and there is no confession that will shock a priest these days. Go to the confessional and be set free. And then forgive yourself. In light of the recent 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, this message is especially for those people who have been involved with abortion, whether by seeking one themselves, helping another person to obtain one, or being a proponent of ‘choice.’ We Catholics abhor the act of abortion, but still love those who have lost their way. I want you to know that God wants to forgive those who are regretful, and is waiting for you with open arms. Go to Him before it is too late.
For those of us who struggle with “minor” sins, now is the time for us to change, as well. Now is the time to commit to speaking more gently to our children and spouses; to being more patient; to gossiping less; to wasting less time on Facebook; to being less selfish and more giving; to being better stewards of our bodies, our houses, and our finances; to loving each other. “Lesser” sins are still destructive to our souls. They put distance between us and God. They weaken our wills and distort our moral compasses. Now is the time to turn away from them, before our consciences become so dull that we turn away from God completely. Lent is beginning soon and this is a perfect opportunity to seek the mercy of God, as we prepare to commemorate the greatest act of Love and Mercy ever carried out – the self-sacrifice of our Lord on the cross.
Now is the time to reconcile with others, as well. We must say we are sorry to those to whom we’ve been unjust or unloving. We must offer forgiveness to those who have been unjust or unloving toward us. The sibling, or in-law, or former best friend about whom we’ve been harboring negative feelings could be gone in the blink of an eye. We must not wait to set things right.
Now is the time for us to develop a healthier spiritual life overall. Pick up the rosary and the Bible. Try to make it to a weekday Mass. Pay more attention during Sunday Mass. Go to confession more regularly. Read more Catholic spiritual works. Study the lives of the saints so as to learn to be more like them. Start today. We will not “earn” our salvation by doing these things–as salvation cannot be earned–but we will grow closer to God and we will grow in grace and holiness, thus making ourselves more ready to meet Him when He comes for us.
Now is the time to stand up for what is right. In the USA we are facing an attack on our values, and our religious freedom. We don’t have the luxury of sitting back and remaining comfortable anymore. We have no choice but to speak out now, or watch our society be overtaken by radical secularism, perhaps even to the point that authentic Catholicism is no longer allowed.
We need to get off the fence and take a side when it comes to important issues like abortion, marriage, and mandated violations of our consciences. And we need to be unafraid to act on our convictions. We must share the Good News of our faith with those around us. We must write to our local/state/federal representatives about unjust and immoral laws. We must stop hiding behind the excuse that “we don’t judge.” Now is the time to judge! Don’t get me wrong – I don’t mean that we should usurp God’s role in judging individual souls. But we most certainly should be judging actions. That is a critical distinction. Judging actions simply means recognizing the difference between right and wrong – seeing some things in black and white instead of seeing the entire world in shades of gray. It means acknowledging that everyone’s actions in this life have eternal consequences. It is a spiritual work of mercy, an act of love–not a “judgment” in the sinful sense–when we kindly instruct the ignorant and admonish the sinner.
In the last 40 years, 55 million unborn human beings have lost their lives to abortion (and untold numbers of women and men have lost their souls to the same), just in the USA, in part because people are unwilling to “judge.” What would happen if, instead of refusing to get involved (and claiming the moral high ground in doing so), we reached out to women and men considering abortion and told them that there is a better way? What would happen if we said to our friends and sisters and brothers and spouses that a child should not have to die so that they may live as they wish? What would happen if we told our post-abortive neighbors that God is waiting to shower them with mercy if they will acknowledge the injustice of what they have done? How many lives would be saved? How many souls, perhaps including our own?
What if the abolitionists who helped put an end to slavery had refused to judge? What if the civil rights activists who helped to end segregation and institutional discrimination had refused to judge? What if those who liberated the Nazi concentration camps had refused to judge? The world certainly would be a different place. As it turns out, the people who did refuse to judge were on the wrong side of history then, just as they are now when it comes to abortion and other injustices in our society. Refusing to judge actions does not help anyone else, and it does not make us better people. In fact, it harms our souls. When we are silent in the face of injustice, we become guilty as well.
Now is the time to be thankful – for all the blessings we have been given, and even for the crosses that were sent to sanctify us. It’s time to tell the important people in our life how thankful we are for them, rather than taking it for granted that they already know.
To sum it all up, now is the time to strive to be who God has created us to be. According to St. Catherine of Siena, if we are successful at that, we will set the world on fire.