Remember the Y2K scare? Some people thought that every computer system in the world would get confused when the year 1999 changed to 2000 because "00" does not come after "99". One man I knew spent literally thousands of dollars to prepare himself for total societal collapse, and then when it did not happen, he had thousands of dollars of useless survival equipment. Many people today are afraid of an economic disaster, some are afraid of a nuclear disaster, and others are afraid of a natural disaster. I hear few expressing a genuine concern about a spiritual disaster--which would actually be far worse than any of those others. A spiritual disaster is like a "dragon" sitting in the living room that no one wants to talk about.
What would a spiritual disaster look like? It is hard to imagine just what it would be like, since no one living has ever really seen a genuine spiritual disaster on a large scale. Let us compare it first to a natural disaster. Where I live there is the potential for tornadoes (not a lot, but just enough where we own a weather alert radio). If a tornado hits a town then it destroys homes, buildings, livestock, crops, etc. People lose their belongings, and sometimes have to spend years to rebuild.
Next we can extrapolate from what a personal spiritual disaster is like. When an individual experiences a personal spiritual disaster, his faith is "shipwrecked" (cf. 1 Timothy 1:19). Something comes in and overcomes his faith, either twisting it so that his faith moves to something ungodly, or eliminating it completely. The result is that the person becomes what we call "apostate". The very word means "to be withdrawn" and is used for a withdrawal from one's religious practices.
Today we are in a genuine spiritual crisis, and though a spiritual disaster is looming on the horizon, we are not there yet. A spiritual crisis is where things are teetering on the brink of disaster and can be pushed either way. That should be a major concern to every one of us, and we should not be apathetic about it. If we do nothing, then it will come and we will be conquered. Many people's faith today is shaken and confusion abounds even among Catholic clergy. Understanding of the Church's dogmas and teachings has weakened, and though there are signs of recovery in some areas, the majority are still struggling.
You are probably saying, "whoa, Father, you're being a bit depressing with this post, aren't you?" Although I do not intend to be depressing, I do intend to be direct. There is no nice way to say that we are not doing well spiritually, and that we cannot continue to use the same old (failed) methods to renew our spirituality. "Business as usual" will not work when we are under attack from the devil and the world. So if all this does is depress you, then you are missing the point. I am wanting to instill a bit of godly fear so that all of us can "man up" and do what is necessary.
Our protestant brothers are continuing to divide and fracture, and many of them are converting to the Catholic Church, but it is not enough to overcome the numbers of those who are leaving their faith behind (mostly by just lazily wandering off). What will become of things if this trend does not stop? I firmly believe that the Catholic Church will continue, but it may be in a radically different form. Satan is trying to destroy the Church and it appears that he wants to do so by weakening it from within rather than direct attacks from without.
This is all the more reason for us to work to guard our faith while we work to build stronger communities. Only strong parish communities will be able to hold together and keep each other faithful. If we give in to the world's creeping corruption, our communities will flounder and eventually collapse. Bold, but caring priests, leading Churches with strong and godly fathers, with the support of loving and wise mothers, caring for and properly disciplining their children, and doing so in a community where we support one another with prayer and regular interaction, is what will keep us on the right path.
If all we do at this point in time is continue to come to Mass when it is convenient, and never spend extra time and effort on our spiritual well being, then we are bound to failure. It is like the doctor who says "if you keep eating a grease filled diet, you are going to have a heart attack". I am saying, "if you keep taking your spiritual commitment lightly, and you are going to have a spiritual heart attack" (otherwise known as apostasy). I am not thinking of any one person in particular (so, no, I am not pointing a finger at anyone), but rather saying that is what we all must commit ourselves to.
Are you afraid of a coming disaster? There are many possibilities of such things in modern society (especially in the context of so many people seeking a nihilistic, pleasure oriented, socialism), but the worst disaster we could encounter would be spiritual. Those economic or political disasters are nothing by comparison. How much are you doing to prepare yourself and your family for this possibility? Which would be worse, to be without money, home, or health; or to be without God?