By Charlie Johnston
Thank you, dear readers. Your generosity is astounding. I was in St. Louis the last few days – actually in Belleville, where I lived for five and a half years. I visited with the McGlynn clan. When I put up the piece on treated nets for African children to prevent malaria, I had no idea how dire things were. Margaret McGlynn Reynolds, one of the founders of the NETwork Against Malaria, had feared that they would not be able to meet the minimum to make the net distribution for the final quarter. They needed $5,000 by October 1.
At dinner Tuesday night, Margaret’s parents, Claire and Michael, told me how things unfolded. Margaret was steeling herself to tell the African contacts that they would not be able to fund the distribution this time. Shortly after the article went up, they checked in and found that they had received $140. They told Margaret…but when she checked just a bit later, they had $3,000. They thought it was a mistake…and as they sorted it out it grew again. As of this writing they have over $20,000. A few days ago, Margaret sent me an email:
“Dear Mr. Johnston,
Thank you very much for featuring us on your blog. We are humbled by the support we received from you and your subscribers. Because of your generosity and that of your subscribers, we will be able to expand our distribution and save lives as a consequence of your contributions. We look forward to sharing with you photographs and details as a thanks for the generosity to provide for the hope and vitality of the children of Uganda. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Please feel free to share any updates with your subscribers. We couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you for being an answer to a prayer.
While the political and chattering classes are arguing about whose fault it is why things keep getting worse and why there is nothing they can do, you simply stepped up. Quietly, without headlines – and some misery will be spared and some lives saved. Because of your love of God, you took the next right step – and acted as a sign of hope to people who really need it. I hope this does not sound condescendingly paternal, but you cannot know how proud I am of the readers of this website. Margaret and the family have told me that they will send me pictures and video of the distribution – made possible by you. I will post it, probably in early November.
Bishop Rene Gracida sent me an enthusiastic note of thanks for the prayers being offered up for his recovery from a flare-up of a chronic condition. He says he is making steady progress, but has to stick to his regimen. Thank you for continuing to help build each other up in this community.
I have had more than a few notes asking me some version of, “Charlie, what exactly do you see in this Pope?!”
When Pope Francis speaks formally on matters of faith and morals, which he is authoritative on, his clarity, charity and orthodoxy are invariably breathtaking. When he speaks on matters of economics and politics, which he is not authoritative on, focusing on means rather than ends, he is almost invariably clunky, poorly informed, and recommends policies that have impoverished and oppressed people whenever they have been tried. The problem is he speaks at length on secular political matters and treats faith and morals as an afterthought. I get it.
But here’s the thing: God does not just know who we are, He knows who we are going to be. That is why He could look at the zealotry of a Saul of Tarsus, see to the heart, and see that this was the man with the fortitude and steadfastness He could use to spread the message of Christianity throughout the world. He could look at the seeming glib, but degenerate, brilliance and passion of a St. Augustine and see a man He could use to explain and spread the faith to millions. God sees to the heart and knows what can be made of it.
I have said emphatically that Pope Francis IS the Pope of the Storm, I have also said that right now he is in his prelude to greatness – and that, in fact, a significant blunder is liable to lead him into that greatness. I am beginning to think that in a year when the very concept of family is under siege throughout the western world, when Christians are being butchered in large swaths of the world, when babies are being butchered and their organs sold for profit throughout the formerly Christian world, his blunder may be that he occupies his time declaiming against dubious propositions such as global warming and advocating for global governance – relative trivia while the foundations of Christian civilization are being pulverized. Whatever it is, Pope Francis is the guy who will lead us through the Storm like a champion – and God is no more mistaken in this than He was in making Saul of Tarsus the Apostle to the Gentiles or the heretic Augustine into a great Doctor of the Church.
In a larger sense, as irritating as it might be to have a Pope who disagrees with you on secular things, even if he is badly wrong, it is irrelevant so long as he maintains fidelity on faith and morals. The point is that God’s ways are not our ways – and God always has a plan. In many ways, I often do not understand God’s plan, but I do trust His promises even when I don’t understand. He will preserve His Church and carry us safely through this Storm. The question, thus, is not so much whether you agree with Pope Francis on politics and economics, but whether you will obey the hierarchy the Lord set up, Himself, on matters of faith and morals.
I am getting a lot of questions from new readers on matters that I have covered at length on this website previously. Though I have drawn my share of trolls who are trying to disrupt things, I think most are serious and sincere. Even so, on those things that a reader can find for themselves with an hour or two of research here, you are going to have to do it yourselves. I will not clear comments on such things or respond to emails about it any longer. I just don’t have the time to repeat ad nauseum the research that a reader can do, himself.