A reader writes with some jitters…

She writes:

I caught up this morning on some news about the goings-on between our president and North Korea’s. These are scary times we live in. I have to ask: how can faithful lay Catholics respond to all of this? What can a small Catholic family do? I just recently had a baby and I think that adds a whole new element of fear with all that is going on, but I’d like to pray, do something. Ultimately, our hope is in God and we are not meant for this life, but sometimes the human tendency is to fear. Not sure what to think or do, but I’m looking for direction. Prayers for you and your beautiful family.

Short answer, pray, live in love, do the next practical thing, frequent the sacraments. God’s commands are remarkably small and simple. A very nice proverb that sums up the Catholic approach in times of big crisis is, “If you know the world is ending tomorrow, plant a tree today.” Loving your baby, going to Mass, and giving five bucks to a beggar the Church door will do more to save the world as any geopolitical thinker in DC. It is for folks like you that God has spared the world from letting powerful fools destroy it.

Somebody once told me the Jews have a legend that there are always 32 people in the world who are the reason God keeps sparing the world from letting it annihilate itself. I like the sentiment behind the legend: that somewhere there are modest, good, generous, and kind people whose quiet acts of obedience to God are the only thing standing in the breach between us and the Last Day, when human folly would, if it could, destroy it all. It’s a deeply priestly picture of things. Some humble tailor, some obscure seamstress, some homeless guy choosing to forgive the world instead of being bitter, some child just awakening right this second to the idea that his prayers really matter and really move the hand of God to act, some guy just waking up from a bender this afternoon and deciding that he will change his life and return to his family and ask God to, by God, help him not waste the rest of his life–these may be all that stand between us and the Last Trumpet.

I think of that when I think of Jesus’ weird economics that insists we regard the poor, not the rich, as our patrons and tells us to make friends with them since it is they who will “welcome us into eternal habitations.” The rich exist, says St. John Chrysostom, for the sake of the poor. But the poor, he adds, exist for the salvation of the rich. If you have little earthly power, your prayers may turn out to spell the difference between heaven and hell for who knows how many people. We are, the gospel whispers, far more important in the grand scheme of things than we realize, especially if we imagine we are not.

Just some random musings.

Meanwhile, God is in charge. Be not afraid.

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