By Charlie Johnston
We have reached a striking pass. Many of my old critics, while not letting up on the criticism, are visibly nervous that I am right because of the sweep of events this last year. I dropped by a site that comments on me regularly a few weeks back – and was amused to see some of my critics essentially arguing that, “…just because Charlie is right doesn’t mean he is…right.” On the other hand, many of those who have found hope and inspiration here are, occasionally, showing visible signs of worry that, ultimately, I may turn out to be wrong. I have kind of been waiting for this. It makes sense because I have been stunningly accurate on the sweep of the social breakdown – and the acceleration of it over the last three years. But what I say beyond this is, plainly, unbelievable from any temporal standpoint.
One of my favorite phrases is that ‘faith is an act of the will.’ We choose faith, not simply fall into it. If we just fall into it, the roots don’t go deep. We must actively choose it at some point – or lose it. I actually have a lot of sympathy for the doubts on both sides, for I had my own moment of choosing – and it came about five years after my final commitment.
In early 2002 I was still struggling with my own belief in the phenomenon I had experienced my whole life. Though the evidence had piled up, both in large and small ways, that this was authentic, a significant part of me could not let go of the fear that this was just the way my peculiar mind processed a powerful intuition. These fears caused me to worry that if I had to go public, I would likely face humiliation, disgrace, and burn all bridges to any way of making a living – and might yet be wrong at a critical moment. Such fears were not conducive to speaking with confidence. Yet if I did not speak with confidence, how could I give heart to people when they really needed it? If I did speak with confidence, how could I be sure that I would not yet be wrong on something critical? The disclaimer from a financial commercial, “Past performance is not a guarantee of future results,” kept going through my mind. Since about 80% of what I did required interpretation of often cryptic information, what if I got a significant interpretation wrong? Despite the protocols I had put in place to prevent the devil from deceiving me, I well knew he had deceived many saints for a time and had no illusions that I was invulnerable to such assaults. What if I were deceived on a point and, for whatever reason, my angel did not correct me? The lament of Jeremiah was always on my mind: “You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped…” (Jeremiah 20:7). If I did not speak with confidence, I might well defy God and fail the mission He had entrusted to me. What a terrible accounting I would face for that! If I did speak with confidence, I might mislead people – and the despair would be all the greater for it. Yet I had structured my whole life around the possibility this might be true and I might be called to act…so what was the purpose of my life at all if I was going to chicken out at the moment public service began? I had wrestled with this conundrum for over a decade. I needed a way where I could go all in.
I finally realized that I had been wrestling with the wrong question. The question was not whether I would ultimately be right or wrong, but whether I would be true to the promise I had made to God that I would speak in His name to give people comfort and hope if the Storm, the global civil war fought on cultural lines, fully developed as I had been told it would. When I started thinking in terms of being true and of promise, a way forward opened up to me. I could never eliminate all doubt in my head and, heaven knew, the devil would spring up to inflame those doubts if I thought of it in that fashion. Nor could I deny what was likely an authentic call from God and live with myself if I shirked it. So I decided to behave “as if” it were all true in order to keep faith with my promise. Working from this premise, it made perfect sense to adopt some rules and safeguards that would make my work a bit harder, but would protect others from any unnecessary fallout while staying absolutely true to my promise. Here are some principles I adopted to facilitate this work:
1) Obey legitimate authority. People who are crazy think they are authentic and right. If it is from God, submitting fully to the authority He commissioned His Church on earth with is the perfect safeguard. If it is from God, He can clear the way when it seems impossible. If it is blocked, it is for my good or that of others.
2) Never abrogate my responsibility. This is the flip side of obedience. I am given a peculiar mix of spiritual and temporal responsibility. While living full obedience to the Church I must take full responsibility both for my spiritual discernment and my temporal actions. I must always take counsel on both, but take care not to allow anyone to share in that responsibility. It can be very tempting to try to spread the responsibility around, so that blame can be shifted for any errors. That would offend God. This is why I do not seek – or accept – any ‘endorsements’ of the prophetic elements of my message. That is my responsibility alone before God. I also am careful with my Priests and close counselors to warn them away if they suggest something that would inadvertently cause them to share in my responsibility. For example, a counselor once suggested I ask a specific question of my angel for discernment. I quickly warned him not to suggest that, as it would cause him a share in the responsibility for my discernment. Rather, he could ask me specifically how I discern and make suggestions to refine my discernment – but to propose an active test of an angel would give him responsibility that he should not take on. Any errors are my own, both before God and before men.
3) Make whatever I do or say good in itself. Past performance, though suggestive, is no guarantee of future results. I can’t know with absolute certainty that the prophetic elements of my message will come to pass precisely as I have seen them. God is trustworthy and strong, while I am small and frail. Thus, keep people’s trust focused on the God who is trustworthy and strong, reminding them of His goodness in ages past and His abiding tenderness to those who put their trust in Him. Handle everything so that if I failed miserably on everything else, I would have written material that would be useful to help people reconcile themselves to God and His Holy Church, despite my own failures.
4) Be rigorously honest. Much of what I have been shown over my lifetime is starkly unbelievable. That the world could so flip in its values in one short lifetime that it would bluntly treat good as evil and evil as good was unbelievable to me when I was yet a boy. But it has happened, as have almost all the unbelievable things I was shown. I do not have to tell all that I am shown. It is usually best that I only tell a little. But calculations over believability must play no role in my decisions about what to tell and what to retain. Whatever is told must be true to what I am shown. Whatever calculation is involved must be over what is useful in building people up, assuring them of the hope that is in God, preparing them for trials, and exhorting them act so as to build those around them up and so participate in the Rescue. Many people – some friends, some foes – have given me advice on what I should do to make my work “more believable.” At best, I listen politely and move on. If I were worried about believability I would never have gotten up the nerve to speak in the first place. If, in my contemplations, I find a refinement in the interpretation of what I am shown or told, I must make the refinement, regardless of how people react to it. If a core piece meets with heavy resistance, I must stick with it resolutely. I must tell people true and let the chips fall where they may. The moment I start trimming my sails to enhance believability is the moment I cease to be useful at all.
5) Use my anger, but don’t let it use me. Anger is an incredibly useful, and often necessary, tool. It can bring focus and passion to bear, used to steady those in panic, repel assaults, and fire up the timorous. But it is like fire: properly contained in and focused by a solid furnace, it brings warmth, light and life in the coldest times. Uncontained and unfocused, it consumes everything in its path. I am grateful here for my political training, for knowing when to respond to attacks and when to ignore them is an art form. Amateurs think that either you always respond or you never respond – a simple formula, and one that, followed rigorously, always brings them to grief. You cannot ignore attacks that bring into question your integrity or the integrity of your message. To do so is to fail to defend the charge God has given you. But once you have responded effectively, move on. The cranks will keep raging, the malicious will mount new schemes, but you must not deeply engage with cranks and the malicious, which can only fuel the fires of anger. Once you have responded effectively, they will move on or their malicious rage will consume them. Do not notice at all the petty carping of small men of no stature or credibility, for to do so diminishes you and elevates them. Use your anger, but never let it use you.
6) Know that your only effective audience is God. When an actor auditions for a role, there may be dozens of people watching in the studio, but the actor’s only effective audience is the casting director. If all the dozens of people think the actor is great but the casting director does not, the role will go to someone else. If all the dozens of people think the actor is horrible, but the casting director sees a compelling quality, he will get the role. I am auditioning for heaven and God is the casting director. I obey the Church in all its lawful authority, for that is what God calls me to do. I minister to, comfort, challenge, and exhort His people, for that is what God calls me to do. If I keep my promise to God, 10,000 theologians swearing I didn’t will change nothing in God’s sight. If I betray that promise, 10,000 theologians swearing I kept it will change nothing in God’s sight. I seek to please the Master, hoping not to offend the spectators, but never failing to do so if it is the only way forward that is consonant with the Master’s will for me.
7) Don’t look back. Once you have set your course, don’t waste any time mewling with the Hamlet “to be or not to be” routine. Choose well and seriously, then go steadily and resolutely forward, regardless of the obstacles you encounter. Never calculate the odds. If it is right, go forward despite insurmountable odds. Never be seduced by mere temporal advantages into doing something unworthy. If your weakness betrays you and you do something unworthy, renounce it, get up, and continue on your way. If I am with God, I can be delayed, restrained or diverted, but I cannot be stopped. If God is not with me, I should be stopped. Know that no one on earth has any power over you that God has not allowed. Therefore, any setbacks or resistance are for your or their good – for your purification or for their inspiration and recovery. As inspirational as it can be to others for you to live prosperity well, know that it is even more inspirational when you bear adversity well. Never squander the grace of adversity by pining away for what was safe and comfortable when you were not fully mature.
With the adoption of these guidelines, I could safely be “all in,” for I was keeping my promise to God, not restlessly trying to be right.
If I was mocked, scorned and humiliated, I was all in with my promise.
If I was honored and celebrated, I was all in with my promise.
If I was wounded and suffered, I was all in with my promise.
This is the key. I occasionally get people who tell me scornfully that if God spoke directly to them, they would act without hesitation or doubt. Besides speaking ignorantly of that which they know nothing, they badly deceive themselves. They have little faith. Everything I need for my salvation, I have from the Scriptures, the Magisterium and the Sacraments. God speaks to us all there. The extraordinary ways in which God speaks to me have to do with a particular mission I am given – to go forth and comfort His people, to help them endure until Rescue and to participate now in that Rescue. Because of people’s little faith, they actually want more convincing that God exists. I don’t need these extraordinary visits to do God’s will – and neither do they. If they really meant that they would do God’s will rigorously if He spoke to them directly, they would do it rigorously from the direction He gives them in the Scriptures, Magisterium and the comfort He offers with the Sacraments. They think to chide me for my lack of docility to an extraordinary grace but instead reveal the frailty of their faith in what we all are given freely. If you can’t even live the ordinary well and resolutely, what could possibly make you think you could easily bear the additional burden of the extraordinary? It is as absurd as a man who struggles to carry 50 pounds on his back boasting that all would be well if he were just loaded down with a thousand pounds.
Faith is not just a matter of emotional belief, of being convinced. No matter how convincing the arguments, you will encounter terrible trials and setbacks; times when you will ask, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Times when you will wonder whether there is God at all, times when you will doubt that He has any concern for you at all. If your faith is dependent on an emotional belief, on being convinced beyond all doubt, it is a feeble thing, likely to collapse with the rise of wind and waves.
A faith that is strong and sturdy is a faith that, properly formed, is fully and consciously chosen. You cannot just sit back and wait for God or His ministers to convince you – acting like a judge at a gymnastics event, holding up a scorecard for how well someone else has performed. You are called to be a participant. Authentic faith is your response to God’s grace. You choose to act in faith, whatever trials, whatever setbacks, whatever sorrows may come. It is a conscious act of your will. You choose it knowing that there will be times when you doubt, times when you faint from weariness or fear…and when those moments come, you act with faith anyway. “O Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Authentic faith, fully chosen, makes you a participant in God’s grace, rather than merely a spectator.
Choose faith. Believe in God, not in me. Let us choose to believe in Him together. To get through this Storm, to be active participants in the Rescue we must each be “all in.” That way, if I should ever fall, you will stand – and if you should fall, I will stand. If each of us do that resolutely, our jaws set like flint, then the people of the kingdom and the people of heaven shall rise together, shall rise forever, and God shall rule.