For more than four months by now, this pandemic continues to intimidate society. Indeed, it is turning out to be an acid test for the survival of the fittest. It’s either you’re a survivor or not. There is no room for the lukewarm. Only time will tell.
Interestingly, a similar situation was experienced by Josemaria Escriva, during the Civil War in Spain in 1937. At that time, the young Escriva underwent a very difficult period of trial. The Republicans were persecuting the Catholic clergy. Fortunately, he was able to seek refuge in the Consulate of Honduras in Madrid. He endured more than five months of reclusion in a very small section, cramped together with more than a hundred refugees, One of the main focus of struggle that he persisted in was his fight against lukewarmness. I invite you to reflect on Point no. 16, as follows:
Point no. 16
“Give in? Be just commonplace? You, a sheep-like follower? You were born to be a leader!
Among us there is no place for the lukewarm. Humble yourself and Christ will kindle in you again the fire of love.”St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way
Primacy of our Relationship with God
Despite being holed up in a tight space for more than five months, the young priest Escriva made sure that he fulfilled his daily norms of piety – holy mass, mental prayer, holy rosary as well as other pious customs. This was his way of protecting the primacy of his relationship with God the Father.
Nowadays, the pervasiveness of technology and social media has gone to the point of choking the spiritual development of humankind. Interestingly, Pope Francis described it quite articulately: “The same distractions that are omnipresent in today’s world also make us tend to absolutize our free time, so that we can give ourselves over completely to the devices that provide us with entertainment or ephemeral pleasures. As a result, we come to resent our mission, our commitment grows slack, and our generous and ready spirit of service begins to flag. This denatures our spiritual experience. Can any spiritual fervour be sound when it dwells alongside sloth in evangelisation or in service to others?”
Guard against the Onset of Lukewarmness
In response to the admonition of Pope Francis, the Catholic faithful ought to realize the malady of lukewarmness. Hence, the need for vigilance and mindfulness in the things we think, say or do. In his essay on Lukewarmness (“Growth in Holiness”, Chapter 25), the acclaimed spiritual writer, Father F. W. Faber warns us to be on guard against the onset of lukewarmness, as manifested by some signs:
- constant putting off of our daily devotions;
2. negligence and lack of attention when performing them;
3. not feeling right with God;
4. acting without any intention or with indifference;
5. carelessness about growing in virtue;
6. contempt of little things and daily opportunities which, if performed, give glory to God; and
7. looking back at the good we have done rather than forward to the good we need to do in the future.
Clearly, it takes a keen sense of self-reflection to notice the onset of this disease. This is because the slothful actions appear to be seemingly inconsequential. However, as these daily small doses of passivity or neglect accumulate over time into habits, the nasty virus of sloth gains momentum and overwhelms the natural immunity of the soul. Consequently, lukewarmness sets in. This brings to the fore the need to be on guard against the onset of lukewarmness; because, if left unnoticed, it could morph into a silent killer of the soul. This is precisely why our Lord showed a particular repugnance to lukewarmness, as cited below:
15 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”Rev 3:15-16 NASB
Because lukewarmness kills the verve and fervor of love for God in the soul, the earlier it is detected, the better. Here are some antidotes versus lukewarmness, as prescribed by St. Josemaria Escriva, namely:
1. Fall in Love with Jesus
God loved humankind first. It’s our turn to correspond. “We must be very human, for otherwise we cannot be divine. Human love, the love we experience on earth when it is really genuine, helps us to savor divine love. That is how we grasp the love by which we rejoice in God and which we will share in heaven when the Lord is everything to everyone.” 
2. Work Hard, Offer It to God
Consider some of the attributes of work – “Professional work is a witness to the worth of the human creature. It provides a chance to develop one’s own personality; it creates a bond of union with others; it constitutes a fund of resources; it is a way of helping in the improvement of the society we live in, and of promoting the progress of the whole human race. For work, which Christ took up as something both redeemed and redeeming, becomes a means, a way of holiness, a specific task which sanctifies and can be sanctified.” 
3. Use Your Time Well during the Quarantine
“We should never have time on our hands, not even a second—and I am not exaggerating. There is work to be done. The world is a big place and there are millions of souls who have not yet heard the doctrine of Christ in all its clarity. I am addressing each one of you individually. If you have time on your hands, think again a little. It’s quite likely that you have become lukewarm; that, supernaturally speaking, you have become a cripple. You are not moving, you are at a standstill. You are barren, you are not doing all the good you should be doing to the people around you, in your environment, in your work and in your family.” 
4. Humble Yourself and Go Back to the Father
“To be converted you must climb via humility, along the path of self-abasement.”  Escrivá finds in the parable of the prodigal son the best image for the conversion worked by God’s grace, in cooperation with man: “Our Father God, when we come to him repentant, draws, from our wretchedness, treasure; from our weakness, strength…The return of a son who had betrayed him is enough for him to prepare a banquet.”
- Josemaria Escriva, Christ is Passing By, no.166
- Josemaria Escriva, The Forge, no.702
- Josemaria Escriva, Friends of God, no.42
- Furrow, no. 278
- Friends of God, no. 309