By Charlie Johnston
When I was a boy, maybe 12 or 13, one of my younger brothers got very excited when Mom invited him to “help” with the Christmas baking and candy-making. As Mom poured the batter into the pans for the first cake, my little brother was dismayed. “That’s not cake,” he said. “It’s just a mess.” His mind could not conceive of that soupy batter, with heat and time, becoming a tasty cake.
Shortly after 9-11, one of my priests directed me to write a synopsis, an overview of events in the world that would lead us fully into the Storm. It was heavily weighted to events that would come in the US, North Korea, China and Russia. I will largely stick to Russia for this.
At the time, American relations with Russia were notably chilly. I wrote that, very soon, relations would get much warmer between the two nations, but that was merely a false dawn. Before the Storm was fully engaged, relations would get rockier than ever, maybe even worse than at the height of the Cold War. But in the end, Russia and the US would be the most steadfast of allies in the struggle to overcome the decisive assault on the faith and the world that China would mount. In fact, without each other, the world would not be able to endure. In the process, Christianity would begin to breathe effectively through both its western and eastern lungs again.
I knew that the United States was going to become enfeebled militarily. For a time, in the early Bush years, I thought I must have misinterpreted this. Now I have seen the gutting. Though the systematic ideological purging of America’s military leadership under President Obama is a pale imitation of the brutal ideological purge Stalin made of Soviet military leadership prior to WWII, the results are similar, a serious degradation of America’s military capacity to project power, for good or ill.
Right now, Russia uses its military might in a seriously disordered manner. God knows this and yet refrains, for He knows that in the struggle to come, the Christian world is going to need real strength – and the west has abdicated its responsibility as it has lost its will and cultural confidence. I see people panicking as Russia works agreements with China – and even courts North Korea. What did you expect? It is a dangerous world – and America has shown itself of late to be an impotent foe and an unreliable ally. Russia also allied with Nazi Germany in the early stages of WWII, after trying to ally with a dithering, dangerously irresolute west. Like the alliance with Nazi Germany, there can only be an alliance of convenience between Russia and China as each tries to buy time to build strength. As free states, Russia and China could be steadfast allies. As tyrannies, they are natural rivals. In fact, Russia’s courting of North Korea is a recognition of and a hedge against that fact. I’m not sure whether I said it in an article on the Spirit Daily series or wrote it in a private note to my priests or both, but I once said that North Korea is the rabid dog of nations – and that though China was using it as its pet proxy to prod the west, it would eventually find that rabid dogs make unreliable pets. It has already found that out. If Russia cozies up more, it will find the same soon enough.
Some people now argue that the Consecration of Russia could not have been properly done because it is not showing sufficient fruit. Perhaps the best of these arguments is here. As human analysis, it is sound. But it is as beside the point as my little brother’s objection that the soupy mess Mom poured in the pans could not be cake. God does not just see for today. He sees beyond, through the end of time. He knows that we are on the cusp of a terrible, brutal, desperate struggle – and that the west has squandered its military capacity even as Russia has abused its might. We are going to need it all if the world is to endure the assault being mounted even now. So the Lord allows both the west and Russia in their separate disorders, knowing that events will ultimately prompt each to get properly ordered or perish. But He does not root out the capacity. There is nothing that has happened or is happening that is not entirely consistent with what I wrote for my priests on the matter 13 years ago. The large sweep of things is on target and on time.
Critics of the Consecration of Russia say that, originally, in 1917, Our Lady said to consecrate Russia particularly by name, but that what St. John Paul did was consecrate the world, including Russia, to her Immaculate Heart. They are right. Sr. Lucia said – and St. John Paul – said that the consecration was accepted in heaven. I believe they are right.
God does not change – but we do. We go running off into ditches, up blind alleys, tripping all over ourselves constantly. Never underestimate the mercy and determination of God to bring us safely home, despite our constant misadventures. Imagine for a moment that your family was going from Chicago to New Orleans in two different cars. Mom and Dad went first and gave your oldest brother firm instructions to take I-55 straight down to New Orleans to meet them there a few days hence. But your oldest brother had a girlfriend he wanted to meet up with in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Mom and Dad still want you to get to New Orleans in good time. But because of your brother’s screw-up, the quickest way now is straight down I-59. It would be a bit absurd for you to harp on going back to Chicago to take I-55, because the circumstances have changed since the original instructions were given. It would have been best for your brother to follow those instructions, but to do so now precisely would create more problems than it would solve. And the fundamental issue is that Mom and Dad want you to get to your destination as quickly and safely as possible.
Had the Church acted in the mid to late 1920s, it could have made a clean consecration of Russia. But then, because of Russia’s persecution of Christians, the Vatican began to make diplomatic agreements to ameliorate the level of that persecution. By the 1980s, when St. John Paul made the consecration, the Church was far along in diplomacy with the Orthodox Churches, hoping to eventually re-unify the two wings. The consecration should have been done as asked early on. But once that window was passed, it would not have pleased God for St. John Paul to do the consecration in a way that would violate a solemn agreement that had defended Christians – or to blow up the diplomacy that was bearing fruit among the Orthodox. God – Dad – knew that we had detoured to Chattanooga. He was not happy about it. But He still wanted us to get to the destination as best and safely as we could.
God adjusts His demands, to our benefit, when we mess things up – and when we actually do things right. In these times, God is calling us to stand our post…to do our part faithfully and with fortitude, not to carefully diagnose the splinters in each others’ eyes.
We waited too late for the Consecration of Russia. But God accepted what could be done honorably when we finally got serious about it. Today it looks like a soupy mess – but there have been many benefits and blessings from the 1984 Consecration.
Now that everyone is being called to their stations, it is not the Church which is being called to account for its failure to act in the first half of the last century. It is those of us who want to play Bishop or Pope rather than stand our position who are unwittingly revealing the vanity of our hearts. Take whatever position you want. But you had best act with fear and trembling as you confidently insist that one of the greatest saints and greatest intellects of the last century got it completely wrong and that the seer who delivered the message in the first place got it completely wrong with him. If, after considering the matter you still insist, you had surely better make sure you are standing your position faithfully. For it is not the Church that stands to be judged on this matter now; it has corrected its mistake. It is you who stands to be judged.