Cardinal Pie of Poitiers
(1815 - 1880)
It is certain that as the world draws towards its end the wicked and the seducers will increasingly have the upper hand.
Faith will hardly be found any longer on earth; that is to say that it will have all but completely disappeared from the institutions of the world.
Even believers will scarcely dare to profess their beliefs publicly and collectively.
The scission, the separation, the divorce of societies from God, which is given by St. Paul as a sign of the approaching end ("...nisi venerit discessio primum...") will become each day more absolute.
The Church, though of course still a visible society, will be increasingly reduced to individual and domestic proportions. She who in Her young days cried out: "the place is strait: give me room wherein to dwell," will see every inch of Her territory under attack. Surrounded on all sides, as the other centuries have made Her great, so the last will strive to crush Her. And finally the Church on earth will undergo a true defeat: "...and it was given unto him to make war with the saints and to overcome them." (Apocalypse 13:7) The insolence of evil will be at its peak.
Now, in this extremity, what will be the remaining duty of all true Christians, of all men of faith and courage?
The answer is this: spurred on to ever greater vigour by the apparent hopelessness of their predicament, they will redouble their ardour in prayer, their energy in works, and their courage in combat so that their every word and work cries out together:
"Oh God, Our Father, who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name, on earth as it is in Heaven,
Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in Heaven,
Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven
Sicut in coelo...et in terra!"
And they shall still be murmuring these words as the earth is snatched from beneath their feet. And just as of old, after a comparable calamity, the Roman Senate and every rank of the state once went forth to greet the conquered consul Varro on his return and to honour him for not despairing of the Republic ("...quod de re publica non desperasset..."), so shall the celestial senate, all the choirs of angels and all the ranks of the Blessed come out to welcome the generous athletes who have continued the combat to the end, hoping against hope itself, "...contra spem in spem..." (Romans 4:17).
Come, Lord Jesus.