This is a very touchy topic and we hope to be able to approach it in a way that will reflect every teaching of the Catholic Church.
If you have a home or an apartment, you will need to protect it. The most significant difference between the first Great Depression and the current economic chastisement is the potential for organized violence and violence brought about by desperation.
Whether you agree with me or not, I believe that our culture, filled with violent television programming, blood and guts movies, and even children’s “entertainment” in the form of chilling video games has created a generation that has become numbed to human decency. Even before the crisis is upon us, the news is filled with stories about home invasions and senseless mass murders that are too numerous for comfort. It will get worse when the numbers of criminals and people who are just desperate swell to the uncountable, and there will be the additional element of blood lust.
You will have to decide how you are going to handle it.
Be aware that you probably won’t be getting much support from the local police. They’ll have their hands full. And I wouldn’t rely on those popular alarm services either. If there’s a power failure or all out rioting in the streets, no one is going to show up. Even people in posh gated communities with guards shouldn’t rest too easy. Guards can be easily overwhelmed, and since they don’t make a lot of money, we may see some of them join in the looting.
Some people will recommend that you install steel doors, pull down shutters and even bars on your windows. I’ve even heard recommendations that you line your interior walls with steel to make your home bullet proof. If that’s what you want to do, fine. But turning your home into a steel encased fortress makes it a target. People figure you have something awfully good inside besides human life. If they can’t tear down the shutters (And believe me, they can. I’ve seen it happen during a blackout in Brooklyn) your home will be set on fire. And all that nice steel encasing means that you’ll be trapped inside.
One blogger even suggested that there will be roving gangs with high tech cameras that can see inside your home. He had this method to stop them:
”Paper the walls against the outside of your home with Mylar, then put the steel plates over them and paint them, then put aquariums along those walls. This will block most of the invasive cameras so potential home invaders can’t see into your home.”
Um, I don’t think so.
Arm yourself with the rosary. Gather together and pray it each day. There is real power in those beads. On August 6th, 1945, eight Jesuit priests were gathered in a house attached to the Church of Our Lady's Assumption in Hiroshima. It was in this house that these priests prayed the rosary daily. That morning at 8:15 a.m. the atomic bomb was dropped just eight city blocks away. Not a single one of the Priests was harmed and the Church and house remained standing although everything around them was flattened. None died of radiation poisoning and all were still alive in 1976.
Encircle your home with blessed salt and sprinkle holy water throughout the house.
Place a St. Benedict medal over each door and window.
Don’t do any of this with a superstitious attitude, but in complete faith, praying, "Jesus, I trust in You."
Horticultural Protection. Practically speaking, you may want to borrow an idea from my father who loved gardening. As the parent of four attractive daughters who balked at his very strict curfews, Dad planted an abundance of very thorny rose and quince bushes under our windows. Discrete, but they did the job.
Make sure you have fire extinguishers, sand, and hoses on hand in the event of arson and riots. If something burning lands on your roof, toss up a hose with a sprinkler attached to it. The fire fighters will be too busy to show up if there is chaos in the streets.
If you are going to make some attempt at barricading your home, perhaps with plywood, do it behind interior curtains to make your home look as “normal” as possible.
Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you completely. In the event that someone does gain entry or if you are threatened, first PRAY. We have heard more than one story of individuals who somehow became “invisible” to intruders by the power of prayer.
You may need to hit someone with a shovel or bat or whatever is on hand. Or just wave it around. You might want to keep a bucket of rocks or bricks handy to hurl from the windows, or down the stairs. Or maybe a big container of pepper - enough to get them coughing and choking and running away. By the grace of God you won't need any of these.
If you choose to keep firearms in the house, make sure everyone knows how to use them and keep them away from small children. Certainly no one wants to take another’s life, but often just hearing the unmistakable ka-chunk of a shotgun being readied can be enough to change the mind of a would be burglar. I grew up hearing lots of stories about filling shot guns with rock salt - just enough to sting badly - and clean the wounds at the same time.
Sometimes, a little “posturing” is the best remedy.
A friend, Belinda, who lives in a rough and tumble section of Louisiana, is the Queen of Posturing. No one with ill-intentions bothers that “crazy woman” with the big dogs and bigger guns. Once they get rid of the notion that they can take advantage of her, they find a good Christian woman with a heart of gold.
A few years ago a few young wanna-be thugs were visiting the house across the street for the summer. A mild mannered middle-aged woman in a garden full of Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph shrines looked like an easy target. As the weeks went by, the tension was palpable and I sensed that soon the loud and unpleasant comments were about to cross the line into outright threats. I decided to clean my shotguns, seated in the rocking chair on my front porch one summer evening. The mounting pressure-cooker atmosphere evaporated promptly. Poof! Just like that.
The most wonderful thing happened. They looked across the road, startled, and started laughing in delight. And I looked at them and smiled with enjoyment and nodded pleasantly. Once the fear evaporated on my end, and the posturing disappeared on their end, we were able to smile at one another and eventually have conversations. I was able to see more of the Jesus in them and less of that nasty old devil.
Like Belinda, I am certain that I could never shoot another human being. And also like Belinda, I am pretty darn good at posturing, so I guess that takes care of 98% of it.
That being said, we all need to leave the house. As people get more and more desperate, you can count on a lot more snatch and go robberies.
Stay aware. Too many of us, especially young people, are shut off from their surroundings with iPods and related gadgets. Shut them off and join the world. This is especially important for you to stress to your children. If you're on a bus or train, trying praying instead of seeking a constant stream of entertainment. Become aware of your interactions with others around you. We've become so electronically insulated that we no longer know how to read others. Begin to learn how to connect. Whose glance can you meet and with a gentle look provide acknowledgement of his or her "personhood"? When is it best to avoid eye contact? Do you listen for the inner prompting of the Holy Spirit to let you know who needs prayers? A quick petition on behalf of a stranger costs us nothing and it deepens our relationship with the Beloved.
Pray for the Stranger. I will never forget a particular instance of hearing that inner prompting. I was driving home from work through a rough neighborhood and stopped at a light. On the far side of the street there was a group of young men gathered, perhaps high school aged. Out of the crowd, my eyes connected with one of them. It was an exceptionally intense experience as though all exteriors were shed and we met soul to soul in that instant. I was prompted by the Holy Spirit in a powerful way to pray for that young man. I didn't know why, but I did it for the rest of the drive home. The next morning, I travelled down that same road and when I reached the spot where the young men had gathered, I saw a street side memorial. Someone had died there. At the office I opened the newspaper and saw the face of that young man. He had been shot dead. An act of senseless violence. I prayed for him once again.
Practice courtesy. In this world where people have become commodities, a rude response, an impatient jostle, even sticking your legs out into an aisle, could be the last straw that breaks someone's spirit. Go out of your way to be kind. As Our Lord said, Love your neighbor as yourself. Give up the right of way on the road. Stand up and give another your seat. If you bump someone, apologize. Thank others for their service. Be kind to one another.
Protect Yourself. There may be times when you are charged with carrying cash for your parish or employer. Or you may have cash and credit or debit cards that you need to carry with you -- just to get from one end of the week to the next. It is always a good idea to keep your belongings safe -- or at least to carry some "emergency cash" in case the unexpected happens. Think about September 11th. Certainly no one expected such an awful event. For the millions who were faced with no way to get home, taxi cabs were often the only option. Sadly, the drivers weren't always in a charitable frame of mind. Cash can help you get out and get home.
Copyright 2008 Christine Hirschfeld Catholic Home and Garden All Rights Reserved