With the third blood moon in a tetrad approaching on Easter, and colliding on a Jewish Feast Day, prophecies are swirling about important events to stun the world: war, earthquake, volcanic eruption, Church schism, terrorist attack, economic crash, disease outbreak, asteroids or the end of Western life as we know it… Are you ready for all that? Me neither. I’m preoccupied enough paying attention to my present day-to-day duties and will gladly turn over tomorrow to God’s capable hands.
And yet, Jesus taught us to expect that the kingdom of God is coming any day. Knowing that today could be that day inspires me to work hard for my salvation and sanctification constantly as well as for the salvation of souls entrusted to me. I’m not talking about sporting a goatee, chomping grasshoppers, modeling camel hair and manning the sidewalks with the placard “Repent! The kingdom of God is at Hand.” I’m suggesting three easy practices and devotions that the Church has gifted us to help ourselves, our loved ones and the world in general.
1. Confession for ourselves.
The Sacrament of Confession restores our souls to a state of grace, the best preparation for kingdom come. The Code of Canon Law requires all the faithful: “After having the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year.” But we’re not limited to this minimum requirement. Frequent confession impels us to examine our conscience, repent of our sins against God’s love and correct our path to eternal life. Forgiveness is a gift in the Confessional that Jesus gave us freely, so why be stingy when it comes to receiving mercy and absolution for our sins?
St. Thomas said, “In the spiritual life, a man is sick on account of sin. For that reason he needs medicine so that he may be restored to health; and this grace is bestowed in the Sacrament of Penance.”
2. Sacramentals for our loved ones.
Sacramentals don’t confer grace the same way sacraments do. However, Catechism 1670 states that “by the prayer of the Church, they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it.” Sacramentals prepare us to receive the sacraments of the Church, which is the direction we desire for our loved ones. One such sacramental that has gained popular devotion is the green scapular.
Ten years after the Miraculous Medal was given to Catherine of Laboure, the Blessed Mother offered the Green Scapular to another Daughter of Charity nun, Sr. Justine Bisqueyburu. The green scapular is a piece of cloth attached to a cord, with the prayer “Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death” and blessed by a priest as a sacramental. Approved by Pope Pius IX, this scapular devotion to Our Lady by invoking her intercession can be expressed by wearing the scapular, or placing it under the bed or in the room of someone for whom we are praying. Its graces include healing, conversion (for those away from the Church or unbelievers) and protection.
3. Divine Mercy Chaplet for the world.
Thanks to St. John Paul II, the Divine Mercy Chaplet has become one of the most recent popular devotions in the Church. He once said, “Right from the beginning of my ministry in St. Peter’s See in Rome, I consider this message [of Divine Mercy] my special task. Providence has assigned it to me in the present situation of man, the Church and the world.”
The Divine Mercy devotion was revealed to St. Faustina, to whom Our Lord appeared and requested an image of himself painted. St. Faustina’s Diary contains Jesus own words disclosing the depths of his unfathomable mercy before the time of God’s justice arrives. With the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Jesus gave the promise: “Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death. … Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy.”
The Divine Mercy Novena begins on Good Friday and ends on the Feast of Divine Mercy Sunday. For each day, Jesus requested that a specific group of souls be brought before His mercy. Calling down God’s mercy on this series of nine days is how we can pray for a world steeped in sin, as St. John Paul II urged us.
I don’t doubt the true prophets in this day and age who warn us of disastrous consequences if we don’t repent and live for God’s kingdom. Keeping vigilance over our souls and praying for conversions makes us more prepared for whatever comes, whenever it comes than building a fool-proof shelter from the falling cosmos.