The darkest times of history often bring forth the greatest saints.

In the course of writing To Crown with Liberty, I noticed entirely too many similarities between our own era and the years leading up to the French Revolution. I wrote a scene about mob violence, and then lo and behold, mobs took to the streets to protest the killing of George Floyd. I wrote about the storming of Versailles, and mere months later watched the storming of the U.S. Capitol live on TV. Perhaps creepiest of all, I started a chapter with the sentence, “After the plague came the war”—shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine. It didn’t inspire me with hope.

But it should have.

No one wants to live through social upheaval, war, persecution, genocide. But before God formed us in the womb, He knew us, and He knew the time and place in which we would live, including the particular evils that would afflict the age. Would St. Joan of Arc have been called to such great holiness if France had not been at war? Would St. Maximillian Kolbe, whose feast day is today, have died as an obscure Polish cleric if there had been no Auschwitz? How many of the 191 Holy September Martyrs would have died as sinners if the French Revolution never happened?

God has a plan for each of us, and He will use the evils of the world to sanctify us if we allow Him to. And He will use us to heal those evils too.

Pray for me, readers, as I will pray for you.