A few people have suggested that the Internet outage I am dealing with is some sort of attack. I think not. Rather, I think God chose to give me a few days to regroup, to recover my peace and get steady again.
Events of the last few weeks have shaken me a bit. Got me where I was giving some very tart responses that are more likely to alienate than to edify. It also has shown me a way that satan routinely uses to rattle me. I do know certain general assaults that are to come. Two decades ago I was warned that once the Storm had settled in, satan’s primary assault would come from the right, that he would pretend to be more Orthodox than the Pope. Four years ago, the fraudulent mystic, Maria Divine Mercy rose to claim the next Pope would be an antichrist. She was such an obvious, clumsy fraud that anyone who was deceived for more than a few months had to be either dull-witted or eager to rebel in the first place. It oddly soothed me, for it comforted me that the devil’s attack on this front would be clumsy. So I was taken aback by events of the last few weeks.
First, there are the rising voices of some past accomplishment who are busy claiming that the antichrist has become Pope. You have heard of a few here: more are rising in Europe that I have not spoken of. Then, to me, the Synod revealed how many of the faithful really do not trust the promises of Christ. I was stunned at how many people honestly believed that, after 2000 years, the Church, itself, was ready to go apostate and toss away defined doctrine. I was almost equally appalled at how many thought, in fear, that the Church should not minister in any effective way to those damaged in the cultural wars of the last few generations lest doctrine be sacrificed. I honestly was not prepared for how many of the faithful believed that the only possible options were apostasy, surrender or betrayal. The sort of doubts expressed, though superficially directed at men were, at bottom, doubts on whether Christ would – or could – keep His word. It made me wonder seriously, for the first time, if when He came, Christ would find faith on earth.
It led me, in a few cases, to overstate my case in defense of a point. Some people, who clearly doubted the Church, were as attached to Cardinal Burke as others 2000 years ago were attached to Apollos or Paul. In trying to make the point that Cardinal Burke is not the sign of unity Christ promised his Church, I errantly gave the impression that I do not have high regard for Burke and answered a few in a way that was more likely to trigger resentment than faith. Yes, several had (unintentionally, most likely) baited me with straw men. But I am not accountable to God for how others speak to me; only for how I speak to them.
So let’s take a few points. First, the high quality of the Bishops appointed in the last decade in the United States is primarily due to Cardinal Burke. It has done much to prepare us to weather the Storm – and we owe a profound debt of gratitude to him for that. His fruitfulness as a high councillor during peacetime was amazing. His performance during the Synod led me to doubt his suitability to serve as a high councillor during wartime, but left my respect for his intelligence and intentions undiminished. I hope that a spot will be opened for him that will make effective use of his considerable talents over the next few years.
Second, I need to resolve and internalize that when satan mounts the sort of assault I have been warned about long ago and does it clumsily, it does not mean he is clumsy. The clumsiness is designed to lull me (and perhaps a few others) into thinking him clumsy, the better to rattle us later when the real, sophisticated assault begins. I have been deceived by that several times. I pray it will be no more.
Third, people often claim that if Jesus would just speak plainly and clearly to them, they would obey with docility. That obviously is not true. Christ promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church, that He would build the Church on the rock of Peter, and that who heard His apostles hears Him – and who rejects them rejects Him. Yet despite this, far too many who call themselves faithful are eager to go chasing elsewhere and declare this a false church. This, more than the ebola scare, the rise of ISIS, the terminal fraying of the global economy, the persecution of Christians in their daily lives, this has shaken and scared me. For the last week and a half I have felt kind of like the police chief in the movie, “Jaws,” after he first catches sight of the shark. “Lord,” I say with trembling, “we’re going to need a bigger boat.”
Fourth, people who are watching for the rise of the personification of the spirit of antichrist are looking in the wrong place. He will not come as a modernist or a charismatic advocate of a one-world church. All those who would be deceived by that are already deceived. Why would satan waste one of his most powerful gambits to deceive the deceived? No, his final gambit before his eviction is designed to deceive those who kept faith throughout the culture wars. If there is a personification of the antichrist, he will come imitating an orthodox traditionalist extraordinaire. I am entirely orthodox. Despite my occasional criticism of the uncharitable severity of many traditionalists, that is primarily where my sympathies lie. But that is from whence the personification of antichrist will come, that he might catch new fish rather than just secure the old ones he has already caught.
This is not the article I spoke of. I will not publish that until the Internet at the house is back online tomorrow. It is critical that I get that right and that I get back on track, gently leading people back to Christ rather than angrily berating them for straying. But to determine the “remnant” from the “false” church requires no discernment at all, simply trust that Christ has spoken true. The rule is simple. Where Peter is, there is the Church. Cursed is anyone who says otherwise.