Navigating Your Family through the Fog
by Steve Wood
By mid-January most economists, political forecasters, social scientists, and others have made their predictions for the year ahead. Accurate predictions are challenging as Yogi Berra warned, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
Many of us fail to realize that it’s often just as difficult to recognize looming present realities staring us in the face as it is to accurately predict the future.
Fathers need to be alert to the cultural and spiritual situations in which their families are living. Therefore, I will attempt to describe the moral, spiritual, and cultural situations we find ourselves in at the beginning of 2015.
Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, described by Fulton Sheen as one of the three greatest Catholic apocalyptic writers, said in his Lord of the World, that around the turn of the millennium a strange fog would cause moral and spiritual perceptions to dim. Msgr. Benson put it this way:
“But what surprised him was the density of the air; it was now, as old books related it had been in the days of smoke. There was no freshness, no translucence of morning atmosphere, it was impossible to point in any one direction to the source of this veiling gloom, for on all sides it was the same. Even the sky overhead lacked its blue. There was no sense of mystery as of a veiled city, but rather unreality.”
Monsignor Benson’s description of the smoky gloom eclipsing reality over rebellious mankind reminds me of St. John’s account of the results of the fifth angel blowing his trumpet in Revelation 9:
“And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key of the shaft of the bottomless pit; he opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft.”
The minds of modern men have been eclipsed by a demonic darkening that has led to a bewildering cultural and moral disorientation. This spiritual fog isn’t something that will descend with some shocking event in our distant future. It is occurring right in front of our eyes.
Have you ever wondered, what’s behind a judicial system declaring that it’s a constitutional act to slaughter babies in the womb, or for two men to marry each other? Are you perplexed how a majority of Catholics can be in agreement with the legalization of same-sex marriage? Are you mystified how a Florida Bishop could begin 2015 by publically stating that same-sex couples share “relationships marked by love and holiness?” Are you puzzled how some European Catholic cardinals can propose giving communion to those living in an active state of adultery?
What’s the source of such absurdities? Are these things just the antics of some progressives, or is something else at work? Put simply, the pit is opened and demonic smoke has filled the air causing a diabolical disorientation in the hearts and minds of millions.
In Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s 1975 Reader’s Digest article entitled, “Wake Up! Wake Up!” he said:
“We are approaching a major turning point in history. I can compare it only with the turning point from the Middle Ages to the modern era, a shift of civilizations. It is the sort of turning point at which the hierarchy of values to which we have been dedicated all our lives is starting to waver, and may collapse.”
America certainly didn’t wake up by listening to this brave Russian prophet. Instead we’ve rushed past the turning point as our culture wallows in cesspools of filth and corruption and while our church is threatened by those who want to dismantle the foundations of morality by a not-so-subtle attack on the sanctity of marriage.
So what’s a father to do in order to guide both himself and his family through the perils of the 21st century’s disorientating fog?
I can’t think of better advice for living through a time like ours than that offered by Jesus in Luke 21:
“But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man.” — Luke 21:34-36
If we have entered the period of history Benson and Solzhenitsyn warned about (and I think we have), then it would be supremely wise to engage in Advent watching and praying all year long.
When Jesus sternly commands watching and praying he is giving us the way to avoid being disoriented in the fog of modernity. This is the divine method for not getting sucked into the demonic vortex that is capturing most of the world.
Here are two practical ways to implement Jesus’ command to watch and pray in your family.
First, it is absolutely necessary to pray if you want a spiritual life. If you and your family need an easy to use resource for daily prayer, I recommend a tiny Catholic prayer book. Even though it’s only 2”x 3”x 1/8”, it’s packed with enough good prayers to get you prayerfully through 2015. If you want copies for your family, simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org letting us know how many copies you need along with your mailing address. It’s our gift to your family.
Second, I recommend reading through the New Testament this year. It’s not as difficult as it sounds. Spending just a few minutes reading a chapter a day will easily get you through the New Testament in a year even if you start after Valentine’s Day. There are a number of free audio New Testaments that you can load on your smartphone. Just listening to a chapter a day during the first few miles of your commute will get you through the entire New Testament in 2015.
In case you are interested in a convenient-sized New Testament, you can’t do better than the Ignatius New Testament and Psalms Revised Standard Version (dark blue bonded leather). This is a wonderful gift for any family member. If you want a plan to read through both the New Testament and the Psalms in a year, then just read a chapter a day through the year and up your daily reading to two chapters a day during Lent.
In an age of spiritual disorientation, prayer and reading the scriptures will serve you and your family as sure beacons by which to navigate.
Watch and pray are two good watchwords to guide our families through 2015 and beyond.
This article first appeared in our January 2015 Newsletter