I had a note the other day.  It included a frustrated phrase and list:

Steamroller. That’s the right image. Exaltation and exaggeration of Amoris, feckless bishops, seminarian repressions renewed, undermining Summorum, synod idolization, devolution danger, homosexuals, deaconesses, intercomnunion hucksters, admiration of Luther, global warming zombies, just war deniers, immigration fanatics, capitalism haters, cassock attackers, and now Canadian bishops nod to euthanasia.


How about …?

tank guy 01

Yep.  I admit it. This is how I have often felt these days. I have.  And it is really grinding me down.  I also have in my mail box notes from people who are truly shaken and anxious.  Not a few notes.  Hence, I know that I am not alone, which is both consoling and alarming at the same time.

We have to lift our chins and stand firm and be Christians who really believe.

May I recommend that you all memorize and recite often the Acts of Faith, Hope and Charity?  Especially, for now at least, when you are down, the Acts of Faith and Hope?

There are many versions, but here are the ones I know:


O my God, I firmly believe that Thou art one God in Three Divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. I believe that Thy Divine Son became Man, and died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived.


O my God, relying on Thy almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I
hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Thy grace, and Life Everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer.


O my God, I love Thee above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because Thou art all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of Thee. I forgive all who have injured me, and ask pardon of all whom I have injured.

In my experience, and I think priests will back me up, people tend to die as they have lived.  We develop life habits and they carry through to death.  Rare are the instances when the patterns people bake in over the years suddenly change on the verge of death.  Musicians practice endlessly so that their technique becomes virtually automatic.  In sports, athletes develop muscle memory and skills from repetitions.  Soldiers drill and drill and drill so that when the terrifying part starts, they act rightly, when things go sideways, they can react.

This is how we have to live our lives.  We have to train for heaven, practice, drill, repeat and repeat again.    Parents, give your children a great gift: inculcate into them the building blocks of memorized prayers and tenets of the Faith.  Once they have them, they can pop out at the needed moment.  And don’t forget the Sacrament of Confirmation.

These prayers, these various Acts (along with the Act of Contrition), these devotions of ours, and sudden short prayers when fleeing from temptation, must go into our marrow so that they are so “ours” that they can’t not be ours when the Big Moment comes.

When you in your faith are under attack… ATTACK RIGHT BACK!  Who the Hell do you think is trying to break you?

When you are feeling hopeless or despondent… HOPE IT UP!  Who the Hell do you think wants you to despair?


I don’t think so.

Memorize the prayers.  Once they are memorized, they are part of you.  Then get them into your marrow by reciting them frequently and over a long period of time… like until you DIE, which is going to happen pretty soon, as it turns out.

In WWII there was colonel of the 1st Rangers named William Darby who said:

“Onward we stagger. And if the tanks come, may God help the tanks!


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Cri de Coeur, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Si vis pacem para bellum!, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. JTH says:

    Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

  2. Rich says:

    Recent matters have drawn me more and more to mediate on the following:

    And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” (Mark 4:36-40)

  3. Traductora says:

    Thank you, an excellent reminder. I don’t think I have ever had such a discouraging Christmas, and the situation in the Church really is like being under attack in the very place where one should be safe. These prayers are a great defense.

  4. Chiara says:

    Hello Father –

    I am sorry you are feeling so overwhelmed. [No. I’m not “feeling overwhelmed.”] But I think it might help to remember a few things.

    None of the saints, and even Jesus, His Mother, and St. Joseph, were spared hard times and trouble. If God asks this of even them, why shouldn’t we have some rough times in our lives? It is what they made of their hard times that made them into saints.

    Some of the worst times in history have strengthened the Holy Catholic Church as well. World War II, World War I, the Reformation, plagues, and persecutions have all produced some of our most admirable saints and examples of Faith, when we have been tested the most.

    Finally, dear Father, I emailed you a few weeks ago with a terribly troubling spiritual problem. I was accused of being attacked by the devil by my religious order, and I was confused and frightened. I had no one I could go to locally for help. I am not what anyone could call a “traditional” Catholic, just trying to be faithful in my Novus Ordo parish. When I trusted you with my problem, you answered me promptly with good, sensible advice. I cannot tell you how much you helped me.

    So, you may not realize it, you make a positive difference to everyone you touch. You have a beautiful vocation, and you seem to be a good man.

    I will especially pray for you today for spiritual encouragement and joy, and I have no doubt you will receive it. Our Blessed Mother has a soft spot for her priests.

    Every blessing of Advent to you – Susan, ofs

  5. Rod Halvorsen says:

    Let us rejoice that today we have been given the grace to be the elect who can give witness to our Lord and Savior during THIS time of utter crisis in the Church.

  6. scribbly says:

    One of the testimonies we listened to in our early Christian (pre-Catholic) life was by a fellow who was in one of the 747s that crashed on the Canary Islands (from memory). People died on that plane as they lived, and it really shocked this fellow (who thought if you knew you were going to immanently die you’d approach God humbly): he saw people in all the seats surrounding him and up and down the plane on fire and cursing God.

    He also said the profanity on those recovered black boxes defies belief.

  7. benedetta says:

    Your point about memorizing prayers and training children to do so is well taken, Father. I agree that this, seemingly not needed or useful in last decades, has become extremely important in this new context.

    I’ve been thinking things through some as well. It’s important to remember that in many places in North America and many other places of the world as well, that if not for young people who have been raised to appreciate, thoughtfully, and participate in, the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, are the critical mass, so to speak, or essential element, that ignites whole communities with their contributions. Off the top of my head I run out of fingers and toes very quickly counting off the young people I know who raised thusly turn out to become very important figures in animating and encouraging and doing the heavy lifting for the Novus Ordo parishes as well. Maybe this is a tough one for adherents of Fr. Spadaro’s schtick but it’s important to recognize that our lives as Catholics would be in great measure bereft without young persons attached to the Extraordinary Form. Most families who raise their children to meaningfully participate understand that Catholicism is identity, and beauty, and goodness, and awe, and they don’t want their children to have to miss out on any of it. So, it takes some doing: a little Latin…which leads to a great many other things…other languages…Dante…a terrific vocabulary for college testing thingies…classical antiquity…maps and geography…going out of one’s tiny media defined milieu…or, learn some simple, ancient chants…which leads to…play a little piano, put the effort to learning to sing, even if you are born unable to immediately match pitch…and then singing in community groups and choirs…this time of year, hands down, that caroler or that performer at the OF midnight Mass also has some exposure to the EF and some appreciation for it because they know musically what that is about…traditions in liturgical calendar…help you delve into history, far and wide, and inculturation, the good kind, and realizing the Christian proclamation in many iterations and great diversity…to suffer, sacrifice, and pitch in…which leads to many other community pursuits and involvements in which our secular society without which would be the poorer, meaner, sadder…the list goes on and on.

    If we understand the Extraordinary Form to be a gift and a blessing and favor it to the other, then, we should make a response, an offering to God in gratitude, with all our abilities, life and gifts. Even when things are hard.

    I personally coordinated the first Extraordinary Form confirmations in my diocese in 50 years. Of course, times change and people move along…”all we like sheep”…and yet nevertheless, my child has become stronger and more resilient and more faithful as a holistic expression of being through all these things which required a lot of work and sacrifice on my part, and I wouldn’t trade the time I spent there for anything or anyone. I would do it over again. And I won’t apologize. Maybe we are all a little rigid and worldly and psychologically damaged in some ways…maybe that is because we don’t live in denial about the times. We see the demonic holding our country in its grip and we do something about it. It isn’t going to be easy or a picnic. Not all the time anyway…but it will be worth it. It is very worth it. No one should back down just because of a few insults or misunderstandings. If I had done that, where would my son be? And not everyone will appreciate it, some will even attack you for it. Do it anyway. Some people think the culture is fabulous and all good and their children do not need a little music, a little prayer, a little…something different or more…they will say you are a chump. They don’t want to be involved in that or to pay for it. But believe me, when the chips are down, and your child has the strength which is needed, they will happily reap the rewards as if they had sown it themselves. Such is what holiness and sainthood may call for in our times. Work in insults, hatred, and oblivion, as if your and another’s life depends upon it, and let others pretend it’s due to their good works for all and sundry, and act as though you should be condemned. So what? “You should pray that God makes you a saint”, Lax to Merton.

  8. Allan S. says:

    Why do the English Acts differ from the Latin (originals?)? – [Perhaps it’s because, as I wrote at the top, there are different versions.]

    Act of Faith
    Domine Deus, firma fide credo et confiteor omnia et singula quæ sancta ecclesia Catholica proponit, quia tu, Deus, ea omnia revelasti, qui es aeterna veritas et sapientia quae nec fallere nec falli potest. In hac fide vivere et mori statuo. Amen.

    Act of Hope
    Domine Deus, spero per gratiam tuam remissionem omnium peccatorum, et post hanc vitam æternam felicitatem me esse consecuturum: quia tu promisisti, qui es infinite potens, fidelis, benignus, et misericors. In hac spe vivere et mori statuo. Amen.

    Act of Charity
    Domine Deus, amo te super omnia proximum meum propter te, quia tu es summum, infinitum, et perfectissimum bonum, omni dilectione dignum. In hac caritate vivere et mori statuo. Amen.

  9. benedetta says:

    For my part I will continue to speak well of all the good that the revival of the Extraordinary Form has brought; it it obvious that laity and priests and religious who are attached to that form have affected the entire culture for the better, which includes the NO and all parishes, the Catholic world in general and conversations in our times about faith, and in bringing the beauty and presence of God in myriad forms, through praise and through acts of mercy. To speak well of these does not mean that I oppose our good Holy Father — far from it. It just means that I for one am thankful.

  10. Allan S. says:

    Thank you Father. I have been memorizing the Latin versions, and praying them as part of the ‘drop’ in my Rosary (i.e. I pray the Act, followed by the corresponding Ave as part of the beginning of the Rosary, comprising the opening Sign of the Cross, Our Father, three Hail Mary’s for Faith, Hope and Charity and a Glory Be). It makes for a lengthy opening, but I pray the Rosary in ‘blocks’ throughout the day, so it works for me.

    As for the Acts themselves, I very much like the cadence and thread in the Latin versions found in all three prayers of In hac fide/spe/caritate vivere et mori statuo translated to “in this faith/hope/charity I stand to live and die” (or “I stand firm in life as in death”).

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