The winds of war are blowing as the conflict in Ukraine threatens to expand to include all of Europe and even America. There is much talk of nuclear war—at no time since the 1962 Cuban Crisis has the possibility of such an outbreak been so likely.
America could be attacked by nuclear weapons soon. From a Catholic perspective, what should a person do?
Preparing for War
The most logical question most American Catholics should ask themselves is if they are prepared for nuclear war. Even if war does not come, the most prudent thing to do is to prepare. The consequences of not preparing are very grave.
Talking about nuclear war shocks the sensibilities of a nation whose natural optimism prefers not to think about such things. America has long been blessed with peace on its soil. Many people assume it will always be that way. Others are tempted to run away from the problem, preferring not to ponder and prepare while there is time.
However, despite wishful thinking, disaster can suddenly strike. Catholics need to ask these unpleasant questions. So much is at stake.
Establishing Priorities: Taking Care of Spiritual Needs
The next question is how to prepare. What measures should be taken to prepare best? There are many needs when nuclear war strikes. Some of these can be foreseen; many others are unpredictable.
The best plan is to take care of the most urgent needs first and follow up with others. Much anxiety can be avoided by establishing priorities.
For a Catholic, the greatest needs are spiritual ones. Above all, the primary preparation must involve putting one’s spiritual life in order. The greatest prepping operation is not material, which can include huge expenses. It is spiritual and thus freely accessible to everyone.
Maintaining the State of Grace
The greatest challenge of the spiritual life is maintaining a state of grace whereby one stays in the friendship of God by being free of mortal sin. Then, regardless of what happens, one’s eternal salvation is assured, even if with time in purgatory.
Therefore, the best preparation is a good confession while nuclear war looms. Catholics should make good and thorough examinations of conscience so that, when forgiven, they might have the peace of mind needed to deal with the extreme material challenges they will face in war.
However, it is not enough to confess in anticipation of a conflict. Dangerous times put people in peril, and they fall into sin. As World War II approached, Saint Maximilian Kolbe recommended to the Polish faithful that they stockpile a special spiritual weapon as part of preparations. It consists of knowing what to do in chaotic times when priests and confession are unavailable. It is about knowing how to make a perfect act of contrition to return to a state of grace.
A Golden Key
Every Catholic prepper needs to keep this “golden key” within reach. In his booklet, The Gold Key to Paradise: Perfect Contrition, Catholic author Rev. J. Von Den Driesch offers what he calls a key for dire circumstances that, “with the grace of God, will open heaven for you.”
The Church teaches that a vital part of confession is for the penitent to have contrition, which is “a pain of the soul and a hatred for sins committed.” This contrition can be imperfect as when sinners regret their sins out of fear of “the loss of heaven and the pains of hell.” This imperfect contrition suffices in the confessional, where the priest gives the absolution.
However, when confession cannot be obtained, a better contrition is needed and should be used by the Catholic prepper.
Perfect contrition is sorrow and hatred for one’s sins not out of fear but from a perfect love of God. The penitent does not love because of the benefits received but because God is infinitely perfect, beautiful and good. He is deserving of all love outside of any benefits He may give or punishments he may inflict.
The golden key consists of inciting in oneself a state of intense contrition. The Church teaches one’s sins are forgiven through this act (although the sins should be confessed later). The penitent must ardently ask God for this great grace of sorrow out of love for Him. The sinner might repeat with great fervor the part of the Act of Contrition that announces this sorrow for sin by declaring, “but most of all because I offended Thee My God who art all Good and deserving of all my love.”
An act of perfect contrition is more difficult than the imperfect contrition needed for confession, although its effects are the same. In times of peril, the sinner can regain a state of grace and friendship with God by using the golden key.
Where Are the Sermons?
There are, of course, other means of spiritual preparation for Catholics in times of nuclear war. However, this first one is a good beginning. A soul at peace with God becomes capable of confronting suffering and dealing with adversity. The petitions of such souls will be more readily granted. This is a secure preparation that will benefit souls regardless of what happens.
To the golden key must be added a golden sword in the form of the Rosary, a most powerful weapon in times of crisis. The Church has many assets for the times of trial that Catholics should use.
Catholics can and should also secure reasonable material needs that an emergency requires. However, these measures are not the most essential.
The threat of nuclear war endangers the salvation of so many souls. Thus, topics like the golden key of perfect contrition should be the matter of many sermons to prepare the flock for the dangers ahead. Other topics might include the efficacy of the Rosary, the effects of sin on society or the reality of God’s justice. Alas, few preachers broach them.
This tragic neglect is part of the great crisis in the Church that leaves Catholics so unprepared to deal with a world in chaos.
Photo Credit: © vchalup – stock.adobe.com