(This is to clarify some advice given at the end of the depression healing post. It makes more sense after having read through that entire post, as this advice comes only at the end. But I guess it is still good advice by itself.)
At the end of my depression post, I warn about to just keep quiet, presuming we live in a time of extremely heightened persecution, such as people trying to get you locked up, or trying to kill you for professing Christ: anti-Communist 1950s propaganda finally come true, an era of extremely heightened persecution against morality and Christianity -- that is the era you live in now. Persecution varies from person to person, community to community, state to state, country to country. But in the US, yes, assume the worst first.
There is that old saying, "don't let one bad apple spoil the whole bunch," meaning, "if one person is bad, don't let that shade your opinion of the whole group."
I have a saying: "if I have 10 apples and one of them is poisoned, mixed in with all the good apples, and I eat all the apples, even though I had 9 good apples, the one poisoned apple will still kill me."
There is a proverb in the Bible: "a live dog is better than a dead lion."
There was man who used to go onto atheist forums and start arguing with them about God. Is that saving anyone's soul? No. That was narcissism on his part, not holiness. "A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid: Knowing that he, that is such an one, is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgment." [Titus 3:10-11]
Well, if you're openly an atheist, hanging out on atheist forums, you're already way beyond being a heretic. ... What is being said here in the Epistle in the New Testament is, don't argue. Arguing is not a good thing to do. It doesn't help anyone's soul.
Seek God yourself: His grace will enter into the world when you seek God.
Or speak about God anonymously in a place where people can find Him: people who are looking for Him. I am not writing this post right now and mailing out a copy for everyone on my street where I live to read. They aren't seeking God already. It would not do them any good. It might harden their hearts more against God.
People have asked God, "why not have a Medjugore (a site of many miraculous apparitions and miracles) in the West, to convert people here?" And Mary has said that even if such a thing existed in the West, many people would see and harden their hearts further against God, rather than convert. Then they would have a deep place in Hell because they saw a miracle and rejected it.
There's a big difference between suicide and martyrdom. For a martyrdom to be real, God has to arrange the circumstance. He'll guide you. Martyrdoms are better than suicides: because God's grace is right there, protecting you. "And when they shall lead you and deliver you up, be not thoughtful beforehand what you shall speak; but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that you should speak. For it is not you that speaks, but the Holy Ghost." [Mark 13:11]
Even if its the little martyrdom of having someone balk at you because you were saying something against sin, rather than speaking in favor of sin. That's such a small thing, but it works so much good in the world. Even if it just works the good in the spiritual world. Besides, you never know what will lodge itself in someone's head that they will remember 10 years later, when God's grace is involved.
But a situation like openly walking up to atheists and start bickering with them, that's just going to make them feel superior to you: harden their hearts to God more.
So I do warn at the end of that post: to keep quiet unless you are put on the spot, and in which case you cannot deny Christ because Christ said, "those who deny me to others, I will deny to my Father in Heaven."
when I said "do not deny Christ. Just be quiet until you are put on the spot, then you must say something, but otherwise be quiet," what I meant included morality, as well, not just directly someone saying the word "Christ" or "Jesus" or "God."
That is what I am trying to clarify in this post.
If someone comes up to you and says, "Chris and Karen are moving in together! Isn't that great?? They're SOOO happy!!! I'm SOOO excited!!! Aren't you so happy for them?!?" and the two people being discussed are not married, and you reply back, "yes that is so wonderful," then ...
you have denied Christ.
Jesus warned us that those who fornicate will not enter the Kingdom of God. Therefore approving of this mortal sin is a denial of Christ.
It is never wonderful when someone's soul dies because of sin. No matter how many people gush that it is great. It is an awful, awful thing.
A mortal sin is a sin that kills the soul, severing its ties from God. In the Bible, Old and New testament, over and over again it says, "God does not hear the prayers of sinners." A person living in mortal sin, his or her prayers are not heard by God. They do not have the graces necessary to stand before God when they die. It's a very, very bad situation for his or her soul.
... You really cannot approve of any mortal sins at all, because Christ's whole goal on earth and now is to save souls from Hell, so they can be with Him and His Father and the Holy Ghost, and all the Saints and Angels, in Heaven. So, you see, you can't approve of mortal sin, even to just "smooth over" a social context...
The people who are talking to you about this fornication (or drugs or pornography or whatever mortal sin) obviously do not care about doing God's Will, and therefore they do not care about God. Even if they say, "I am a good Christian, I love God!" but they promote mortal sin that destroys the soul's relationship with God, they are doing an action that is not loving God -- either deliberately, as in they've already been warned and have intentionally rejected that warning in favor of the opinion of the world, or by ignoring Him and not learning about His moral law. Therefore it is likely impossible to reply in the context of God to them, as they've already rejected that. They have no spiritual life: they are already spiritually dead.
But you still do not want them to get more sin on their souls, for a whole variety of reasons.
So, because they are not sincerely seeking God, you can't say, "Jesus warned us that those who fornicate will not be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven," because this will mean absolute nothing to them. They have not a thought in their heads about Jesus' warnings about damnation or salvation.
From day to day, they do not think about damnation or salvation: they likely have the sin of presumption, a sin which is the thought that they will automatically go to Heaven, even though Jesus was born on earth to warn us and demonstrate to us through His Passion the great struggle it takes to get to Heaven.
Maybe some people this will warn, but there are even protestant Churches or Catholic parents who tell their children, "just ignore that part. That's outdated." So many people have this built in defense of ignoring the warnings Christ gave us to save us from sin.
Which is very sad: you can't love someone unless you listen to them. Including God. You can't love God unless you listen to Him. Christ's whole public ministry on earth was to speak to us, to warn us, to guide us, so we could love God and be one with God the Son, God the Father, and God the Holy Ghost, so that we might share in the joy of eternally knowing God. If you don't listen to God, ... how can you love Him? If you don't read what He said, how can you love Him?
Therefore, depending on the person, for most people, spiritual advice will not help their spiritual lives at all, because they do not think about their spiritual lives. That's very sad, but unfortunately true. Therefore, is it really love of neighbor if it doesn't help? Or is it just feeling superior because you have spiritual knowledge that others don't -- and isn't that vanity and pride? God wants to help people. All people. Even people who ignore and hate Him. So pray about how you can help your neighbors, if it is at all possible.
So back to the example of living together before marriage, if instead you reply, "80% of couples who live together for two years before getting married end up getting a divorce, so I really think it would be better if they waited until they were married before they lived together so they could have a longer lasting relationship," then you are saying something relevant to them and have not denied God. That is a true fact.
If someone knows you are a Christian already and you behave in a good way, such a statistic will bring their thoughts around to, "oh yeah... God or something... He said something once about morality, I think..."
Here are some other replies for various situations in which someone offers you spiritual death:
"No thank you, I don't drink." (To drink is not a sin, but to get drunk is, and often for atheist hedonists "to drink" means "to get smashed," or it says that sooner or later you are up for being smashed, so it is better it deny any alcohol at all from a very worldly person.) This is better to say than "being intoxicated is a mortal sin and increases the likelihood of becoming demonically possessed," which likely whoever you are talking to won't understand, or they might just kill you outright on the spot (alcoholics are pretty rough when you deny alcohol, and if you denied it roughly... maybe they're already possessed...)
"I don't look at pornography." / "I'm not interested in pornography."
"I don't think it is good for people to sleep together before they are married."
"I prefer more modest clothing."
"I think it is better to accept what you have than get plastic surgery."
There's also a lot of gossip and mean sayings behind others' backs that people do who do not keep God in front of them. You can try to sweeten it by just keeping quiet if you are in a crowd, or if they turn to you, you can say, "I don't gossip," and then just leave, or if one-on-one and someone says something mean about someone else, try to soften it. "The hair cut isn't that bad, as long as she's happy with it." Stuff like that. People will think you are a very sweet person, they will usually feel good, unless they just loath anything good and nice and then they will stay away from you, or you will stay away from them -- it's better to have someone like that stay away from you.
I've used everything from that list. Or I've heard people use those things.
There was one guy I knew who used to never accept a drink. Even when he would get ridiculed over and over again. I had the highest respect for him. (Until he eventually caved, started drinking, and ruined his life extremely quickly with alcohol, partying, and drugs. Very sad.)
That short list of an idea of replies (all of which I've used) are better than saying.
Sometimes it can't be helped that you get mocked. God is ALWAYS right in the end, so it doesn't truly matter for you if they mock you now: sin always ends in tragedy. Look at the divorce statistics in the United States. Look at the suicide rate in the United States. It's officially 30,000 a year, but if you add in the overdoses (which yes, are suicides) then it shoots up to 90,000 a year. If you add in the suicides that look like other types of death, that could be officially reported as other types of deaths, I'm sure it goes up above 100,000. ... A year.
So no, sin does not lead to good places. ... Even if you get mocked or lose the companionship of some people who are trying to destroy their souls with sin (pretty bad companionship), you do NOT want the blood on your hands from encouraging sin. ... It feels nice being a moral center in a world that has absolutely no moral center, if you have a close relationship with God. Because God comforts you. (If you pray often to Him, meditate on His Passion, talk to Him in your own words, especially in front of the Eucharist...) So yeah, deep down, it feels very nice. It feels much nicer than be "accepted" by a nihilistic society. Which feels empty and hollow, and you have to be around all these people who are destroying themselves, and you have to think, "I did nothing to try to save them... not even say one word..." That's... bad.
But being mocked -- if you are giving a godly message correctly -- does incur sin against their souls, and that is always a bad feeling when they stain their souls because of something they did to you. If your ultimate goal sincerely is that they be closer to God, then that is going to be painful to think that they've stained their souls more because of what they did to you. ... Avoid people who mock you, and also imitate Christ when He said to His Father, "forgive them," when they were nailing nailing His Hands to the Cross.
It also requires a lot of fortitude, which is a virtue obtained through confessing your own sins and meditating a lot on the Passion of Jesus. But once you are on fire with love for Christ, which happens when you give up your sins and meditate on the Passion, ... then it becomes like nothing to suffer a tiny bit for the love of God.
(See the prayers in the post below: the prayers listed there are protection prayers, to the Precious Blood of Jesus and to Mary, and God will protect you from abuse in a huge way if you say them.)
Or another example: "looking at pornography is a mortal sin, meaning if I died without going to Sacramental Confession and without having the grace of true contrition in my heart, I would go immediately to Hell if I willingly looked at it, because it is spiritual trafficking of people's souls and also spiritual rape. It also creates an intimate tie with demonic spirits." That is a true statement. But perhaps not as beneficial for others as being an example, someone who says, "I don't look at pornography." Just casually saying that, and going on to something else. That's very powerful. That example is very powerful.
If they ask about demonic possession and the spiritual consequences of pornography, or God's opinion of pornography, then yeah ok, fill them in. (It... won't likely happen.)
But saying, "no, I don't do such-and-such," or "statistically, such-and-such will end badly for those who participate, so no, I don't think that's a good idea," could really help others. And it is not denying Christ.
Examples are powerful.
You may be put in a situation in which you are asked to directly deny Christ. Like, literally, in which the people around you take turns saying, "no, I don't believe in God," or utter some blasphemy, one by one, and then turn to you and expect you to do the same.
It's creepy and definitely demonic, this does happen: I've been there. At the time that it happened, I recognized it instantly as a trial from God, and I was very happy to say, "no I will not say that!" And I knew I had passed the trial! It was a good thing. It strengthened my soul very much.
In such a case as this, you will have to say that you will not deny God or not deny Christ. You can leave it at that. If you start getting haughty or self-righteous, or saying something like, "you are all going to Hell for doing this!" then... you are not acting the way God wants you to act, you are not preaching to Gospel with your actions (which are louder than words), and you are not helping anyone's soul to not go to Hell.
You are not God's only child. Unfortunately for the pain He experiences in His Heart, God loves the people around you -- even the bad people -- with the same love that He has for you. He doesn't want you to break them or put yourself above them by being arrogant or haughty or anything like that. He wants them to go to Heaven when they die, too, even if it is likely they won't; or at least to avoid Hell. You have to act with tender care towards their souls, which requires a lot of private prayer on your part. A lot of confessing of sins on your part, especially sins of things you say or have failed to say, such as condemning sin.
If you're much too afraid of the response you will get if you say "no" to sin when the world around you says "yes" to sin and "no" to God, or you are much too afraid of being alienated and losing false friends (because people who cling to sin won't be capable of being anyone's friends, because more and more sin will attach to them, including betrayal, and they will eventually betray you), then consider very carefully whether or not you care more about the opinions of a few people who don't matter and some possible persecution, or ... the Savior.
Because God said that He would deny before His Father those who deny Him before others.
Jesus is the only Son of God. He is the second member of the Trinity. He is God. He alone stands between us and His Father in supplication for us.
If HE denies us... where else are we going to go? There is no one else.
I have done the best I could with the best knowledge that I had at the time. Unfortunately, I did not always have good guidance. There are preachers -- priests and deacons -- who would rather win what they think is the favor of the people than to preach what God wants them to preach. So they give a New Age-ish message that doesn't help people against the many brutal trials they are up against people of their own and other people's sins. ... I also have not always understood what God was saying. I have not always lived up to a good standard.
But if you always seek God with sincerity, He will correct you. And if you are sincere, you will repent, go to Confession, and He will take your sins away from you. And you will distance yourself more and more from the influences of the world (including worldly preachers), and cling more and more to God. And then you will be strong in God, you will become pleasing to God.
Pontius Pilate was not able to wash off his sins just by washing his hands and by saying, "I am washed from my sins." He tried to say he was free from his sins, just by saying it. He didn't humble himself and ask God (who he was persecuting at the time but didn't recognize) for forgiveness and strength.
Pilate was given a trial by God. He ran into the Son of God unexpectedly, just as the people around you will run into God unexpectedly through you if you give up sin, idolatry, and do the Will of God.
Pilate did not seek God, not once in his whole life. His whole life was based on an unstable pagan religion that he probably cared little about, and his career. That is very much like people today. Even many people who consider themselves Christians.
Look at how many people who are parents who are asking God for their children to worship Mammon ("make my children rich so they give me money, make them get married, make them famous, give me money"), or people who pray to try to control the actions of someone else ("make him love me, make him call me"). These are pagan things, that people try to attach to Christianity. But they are pagan. Jesus warned against them. Over and over and over again. Because they get in the way of a path to God. Yet people are asking for these things from God all the time. They are not asking to get closer to God, to feel God's love, to understand Him, for the grace to love Him, or to help Him save souls (even their own souls, or the souls of their children). They say, "oh yeah. I love Him. Now, back to this false idol I have..." Over and over and over again.
And so He can't give all the graces He wants to give to them, all the graces for fortitude and strength, because they don't listen to Him, or they ignore Him, or they treat Him like a dead object in the Eucharist, rather than an actual encounter with actual God, that would change their lives dramatically if only they would stop holding onto their sins and their pagan idols.
So Pilate was unprepared for his trial, and he failed it. He paid the consequences.
His actions also destroyed his life on earth: he became friends with Herod because of their shared sins, where in fact he hated being around Herod -- but because of their sins, which had an effect on them spiritually, they became united, despite his loathing of the man. (I imagine Herod was an awful person to be around, given that he was incestuous and who knows what else... ... I also imagine Pilate wasn't that great to be around, either, given that he went along with Jesus being condemned...)
Pilate's career -- which he had made a false idol out of, being that he sought a career instead of seeking God -- was destroyed due to his incompetent leadership. If he had sought God sincerely his whole life, he might have had quite a heroic career... maybe even been crucified along with Christ, and the generations could have said, "look, He even had mercy on that pagan, who saw Him and converted, and now Pilate is a Saint." But... that is the opposite of what really happened.
And Pilate has gone down forever in the history of humanity as a cruel, ignorant, arrogant fool, an example of who not to be. Even generations and generations and generations after his life on earth, we still talk about his weak, incompetent ability to perform his career every time we recite the Apostles' Creed.
Is Pilate in Hell right now? If he is, he is suffering right this moment. His suffering is not something that happened long ago, but something that happens right now for him. And 2,000 years is not even the beginning of his suffering. ... If he is in Purgatory, he would still be suffering as if he was in Hell, the only difference is that it would end someday.
Pilate is a creep. Pilate is a poisoned apple.
Don't be like Pilate. The people around you are not ready for their trials, either. Really study what happened between Pilate and Jesus in Jesus' Passion. Study what Jesus did, how He responded and did not respond. He was very mysterious towards Pilate. He did not talk a lot to Pilate. It's sad to think, but because He is Who He is, He actually desired the eternal salvation of Pilate... of even Pilate, His persecutor. So study closely how Jesus responds.
I don't know that Pilate was saved. I am not God, nor am I a theologian who might actually have the answer (maybe a mystic who is a Saint had a vision of Pilate in Hell or something and I don't know about it, I don't know, I sincerely do not know). I know he was a really, really evil person, simply for not seeking God and for failing the trial that occurred in his life.
But you can see that Jesus did still obtain grace for him. Not by talking to Pilate. Through His own holiness. Because you see, Pilate said, "this is the King of the Jews." The Pharisees told him to change his sign and write, "not 'this is the King of the Jews,' but rather 'this man said "I am the king of the Jews."'" And Pilate said, "I have written what I have written." ... Who knows, maybe that was a death sentence for Pilate, because he became aware he was crucifying the King of the Jews. Like I said, I'm not God, I don't know. But there was grace there.
Meditate on Christ's Passion. Open a Gospel (in a valid Catholic Bible) and read the Passion in the Gospels.
(I would say the most valid Catholic Bible would have the line Genesis 3:15 in which God punished the devil and foretells of how He will bring our salvation to earth through Mary: "I will put enmities between you and the woman, and your seed and her seed: she shall crush your head, and you shall lie in wait for her heel." [Genesis 3:15] After Vatican II, many Catholic Bibles printed that "I will put enmity between you and man," rather than "the woman." This is jealousy of the graces God gave to Mary. They lie and say it is a reference to Jesus. "Her seed" is a reference to Jesus and to those who are devoted to her. The significance of this is not small: if you look at a real Catholic Rite of Exorcism, Mary REALLY DOES crush "the skull of the serpent." Quite literally, she crushes Satan's head. She plays a very active role. And even during regular prayer, she will guide a person and lead him or her out of heresy, which is the venom of Hell. ... Even if humans lie and alter what God has told us, it does not change the reality He has made. Only He is God, and only He can say the way things are.)
We don't have holiness ourselves. God alone is holy. So we have to repent of our sins, listen to Him and pray, and spend time with Him in Eucharistic adoration. He has to remake us so that we are strong in His grace. We are surrounded by Pilates. He can navigate us through them and protect us and also help them through us. But we have to do what He says. Which means we need the grace to be able to hear Him in the depth of our souls. Which only comes with prayer. (See the prayers in the previous post, the Precious Blood prayers and the prayers to Mary and the Eucharistic Adoration books and links.)
So yes, your words may prick the conscious of those who are in favor of sin. But if God has set up the situation, where He has arranged it so you are put on the spot and therefore must speak for Him, even among secular peoples, then you will know it is in God's Hands.
Be a person God likes. Yes, God loves everyone, but if you are obedient to God, He will like you, too. There is nothing that makes a soul happier than to be liked by God, which allows the soul to feel God's love. Be obedient to God. Then you will not be denying Him.
Satan can fake humility, can lie about being humble, put on a fake show of being humble for a while -- but he can't fake obedience to God.
From Precious Blood International (a Catholic website with bishop nihil obstrat of their prayers):
PRAYER FOR THE CONTROL OF THE TONGUE
Dear Holy Spirit, My God. Teach me to speak wisely.
Let me avoid useless thoughts and useless conversations. Help me to speak often for You. Grant that my words may never hurt men of goodwill. May My words always bring consolation to those in sorrow and guidance to those in need. Take my lips and make them Yours. Take possession of my mind and make it an instrument of Your goodness and a channel of truth. I hope to become a man of silence, who prefers to talk to God then to men. In my human conversation, may I always bring them closer to You and You closer to them. I ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen
Our Father* . . . Hail Mary* . . . Glory Be*