The Beginning of Wisdom

(I was quite impressed with how people responded to my article, “Concerning Islam.” An article like that is often referred to as ‘troll-bait,’ because of its propensity to draw out people who just want to yell, or confuse, or to divert people from the fundamental issues. To my surprise, I only had to delete three comments. There were two more people of seeming good will I quietly sent a note to telling them we avoid bombast here. That is unusual on the internet and can take a little getting used to. I let two comments that might have been ‘trolls,’ on the off-chance that they are of good will and may accept the invitation to use actual intellectual rigor and logic in their comments while sticking to the facts as they are, not as they wish them to be.

I was again deeply heartened by what a vigorous, caring community we have formed here. Commenter had a serious debate on whether Muslims worship the same God as us – solid evidence and logic were used on every side. It was enlightening and I could feel that the commenters held each other in genuine affection and respect throughout. I am so proud that we grow together and learn from each other…building each other up even as we dispute with each other. That is what a Christian family should do. Your approach to this article filled me with a sense of joy that I started something that is bearing real fruit – the fruit of familial love under our one true Father. Thank you. – and don’t worry, I won’t let trolls ever cause this to degenerate into a foodfight.

I am working on another meaty piece. I was surprised when our friend, Bishop Rene Gracida, reprinted a piece from Rod Dreher that touches on most of the same themes. I reprint it in its entirety below. Meantime, I hope you will take a look at this piece Bishop Gracida put up about the Pope calling the German Bishops to account. God’s plan has begun to unfold around us. See to the heart of matters, not just the surface. And now, from Abyssum:

PROPOSE TO SAVE THE CHURCH UNIVERSAL

WHAT WILL AMERICA BE LIKE WHEN IT IS ALONE, WITH EUROPE TOTALLY ISLAMIC???

!!!!

WiqZqe

The End of Our Time

 

A reader sent that cartoon to me. It’s by Joann Sfar, a Charlie Hebdo cartoonist, and it’s a response to people around the world who are offering prayers for Paris. No sir, Parisians like the atheist Sfar have no desire for prayers. Religion, you see, is the problem. If only everyone would be a thoroughly secular person like Sfar, these difficulties would resolve themselves.

The other day, a musician with a peace sign painted on his piano set up outside the devastated Bataclan nightclub, and played John Lennon’s nihilistic ballad “Imagine”:

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

I credit the sweetness of the anonymous musician’s spirit, but the more I thought about that gesture, the angrier I grew. Why angry? Because this — and the Sfar cartoon — are emblematic of the decadence and despair and emptiness of the post-Christian West. I keep saying, “You can’t fight something with nothing,” and that’s exactly what “Imagine,” and the Sfar cartoon stand for: nothing. Believe me, I celebrate music! kisses! life! Champagne and joy! too — it’s one of the reasons I love Paris madly — but it is not enough, and it will never be enough. 

The simpering message of “Imagine,” the brittle secularist pride of Sfar’s cartoon — really? That’s all you have to offer?

The historian Niall Ferguson writes that the Paris attacks, and the ongoing swamping of Europe by migrants, is a clear warning. It’s behind a pay wall. Excerpts:

Here is how Edward Gibbon described the Goths’ sack of Rome in August 410AD: “ … In the hour of savage licence, when every ­passion was inflamed, and every restraint was removed … a cruel slaughter was made of the ­Romans; and … the streets of the city were filled with dead bodies … Whenever the Barbarians were provoked by opposition, they ­extended the promiscuous massacre to the feeble, the innocent, and the helpless …”

Now, does that not describe the scenes we witnessed in Paris on Friday night?

Ferguson quotes the Oxford historian Bryan Ward-Perkins, whom I once interviewed about this very topic:

Recently, however, a new generation of historians has raised the possibility the process of Roman decline was in fact sudden — and bloody — rather than smooth.

For Bryan Ward-Perkins, what happened was “violent seizure … by barbarian invaders”. The end of the Roman west, he writes in The Fall of Rome (2005), “witnessed horrors and dislocation of a kind I sincerely hope never to have to live through; and it destroyed a complex civilisation, throwing the ­inhabitants of the West back to a standard of living typical of prehistoric times”.

In five decades the population of Rome itself fell by three-quarters. Archaeological evidence from the late 5th century — inferior housing, more primitive pottery, fewer coins, smaller cattle — shows the benign influence of Rome dimin­ished rapidly in the rest of western Europe.

“The end of civilisation”, in Ward-Perkins’s phrase, came within a single ­generation.

 

And:

“Romans before the fall,” wrote Ward-Perkins, “were as certain as we are today that their world would continue for ever substantially unchanged. They were wrong. We would be wise not to ­repeat their complacency.”

Poor, poor Paris. Killed by ­complacency.

It’s not just Paris, and this is very, very much not something that can be solved or prevented by force of arms. Yesterday I spent a long time on the phone with the Russian novelist Evgeny Vodolazkin, from his home in St. Petersburg. I wrote late last month about his stunning novel Laurus, a critical and commercial success in Russia, recently translated into English. I interviewed him for this blog, and will be publishing the entire text of our conversation later. We started, though, by talking about the events in Paris. Vodolazkin had been in Prague when news of the attacks reached him. He told me that just as World War I wasn’t really about an assassination in Sarajevo, so too is the West’s current crisis not truly about Islamists who shoot up concert halls.

He added that the West has never seen a migration like the current one, with so many masses of people moving from East to West, at once. He described it as “a great historical event.”

“Nobody knows how this experiment will end,” he said. “The best thing we can do now is to pray. To tell the truth, I don’t see any way out of this tunnel.”

I spent much of this past weekend reading Michel Houellebecq’s novel Submission. I can’t recall the last time I read a work of fiction that was so slight — it reads like Houellebecq wrote it in a week — yet seemed to be so profoundly diagnostic of its time. It’s not a great book, and not really a very good book, but it’s an important one, a novelistic canary in the coal mine, and I strongly urge you to read it. It’s about the despair of contemporary France, but there’s a lot in it that will resonate with Americans, and all over the West. Mark Lilla describes it well:

Michel Houellebecq has created a new genre—the dystopian conversion tale. Soumission [Its French title — RD] is not the story some expected of a coup d’état, and no one in it expresses hatred or even contempt of Muslims. It is about a man and a country who through indifference and exhaustion find themselves slouching toward Mecca. There is not even drama here—no clash of spiritual armies, no martyrdom, no final conflagration. Stuff just happens, as in all Houellebecq’s fiction. All one hears at the end is a bone-chilling sigh of collective relief. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. Whatever.

The novel’s protagonist is François, an academic who teaches at the Sorbonne, and who is an expert on the 19th century novels of J-K Huysmans, who converted to Catholicism after a life of restless decadence. Lilla:

Houellebecq has said that originally the novel was to concern a man’s struggle, loosely based on Huysmans’s own, to embrace Catholicism after exhausting all the modern world had to offer. It was to be called La Conversion and Islam did not enter in. But he just could not make Catholicism work for him, and François’s experience in the abbey sounds like Houellebecq’s own as a writer, in a comic register. He only lasts two days there because he finds the sermons puerile, sex is taboo, and they won’t let him smoke. And so he heads off to the town of Rocamadour in southwest France, the impressive “citadel of faith” where medieval pilgrims once came to worship before the basilica’s statue of the Black Madonna. François is taken with the statue and keeps returning, not sure quite why, until:

I felt my individuality dissolve.… I was in a strange state. It seemed the Virgin was rising from her base and growing larger in the sky. The baby Jesus seemed ready to detach himself from her, and I felt that all he had to do was raise his right arm and the pagans and idolaters would be destroyed, and the keys of the world restored to him.

But when it is over he chalks the experience up to hypoglycemia and heads back to his hotel for confit de canard and a good night’s sleep. The next day he can’t repeat what happened. After a half hour of sitting he gets cold and heads back to his car to drive home.

It is the centerpiece of the novel, and the passage Houellebecq has said is its most important. Here, at a great medieval Catholic shrine, François will not let himself believe. I say “will not let himself,” but that is not clear. As he stands in front of the famous statue of the Black Madonna of Rocamadour, François stares at the child Jesus in her lap, and has a mystical moment of calling. He quotes a verse from the Catholic poet Charles Péguy:

Mother, behold your sons so lost to themselves.

Judge them not on a base intrigue

But welcome them back like the Prodigal Son.

Let them return to outstretched arms.

This is the moment of decision. François decides that he was having “an attack of mystical hypoglycemia.” And that is the end of that.

François makes one more attempt at Christianity. He visits a Benedictine monastery where Huysmans had become an oblate, but he’s irritable and immune to its spiritual appeal:

The voices of the monks rose up in the freezing air, pure, humble, well meaning. They were full of sweetness, hope, and expectation. The Lord Jesus would return, was about to return, and already the warmth of his presence filled their souls with joy. This was the one real theme of their chants, chants of sweet and organic expectation. That old queer Nietzsche had it right: Christianity was, at the end of the day, a feminine religion.

Later, in his room, François reads a pamphlet about spiritual direction for pilgrims:

“Life should be a continual loving exchange, in tribulations or in joy,” the good father wrote. “So make the most of these few days and exercise your capacity to love and be loved, in word and deed.” “Give it a rest, dipshit,” I’d snarl. “I’m alone in my room.”

What’s so interesting about François is that he’s fairly passionless. He’s middle-aged and all alone. He has sex (these passages are frankly pornographic), but there’s no emotion involved. He is incapable of forming attachments. He uses booze, cigarettes, good food, and porn (or pornographic sex) to distract himself from his misery and the pointlessness of his life. He longs for a past of faith, family, and domestication. Look at these passages:

When I got home I poured myself a big glass of wine and plunged back into En ménage. I remembered it as one of Huysmans’s best books, and from the first page, even after twenty years, I found my pleasure in reading it was miraculously intact. Never, perhaps, had the tepid happiness of an old couple been so lovingly described: “Andre and Jeanne soon felt nothing but blessed tenderness, maternal satisfaction, at sharing the same bed, at simply lying close together and talking before they turned back to tack and went to sleep.” It was beautiful, but was it realistic? Was it a viable prospect today? Clearly, it was connected with the pleasures of the table: “Gourmandise entered their lives as a new interest, brought on by their growing indifference to the flesh, like the passion of priests who, deprived of carnal joys, quiver before delicate viands and old wines.” Certainly, in an era when a wife bought and peeled the vegetables herself, trimmed the meat, and spent hours simmering the stew, a tender and nurturing relationship could take root; the evolution of comestible conditions had caused us to forget this feeling, which, in any case, as Huysmans frankly admits, is a weak substitute for the pleasures of the flesh.

François buys fancy French meals frozen, and microwaves them alone. Here’s another passage:

In the old days, people lived as families, that is to say, they reproduced, slogged through a few more years, long enough to see their children reach adulthood, then went to meet their Maker. The reasonable thing nowadays was for people to wait until they were closer to fifty or sixty and then move in together, when the one thing their aging, aching bodies craved was a familiar touch, reassuring and chaste, and when the delights of regional cuisine … took precedence over all other pleasures.

Houellebecq depicts a France where people do little more than shop, have sex, and talk about eating, drinking, real estate, and getting ahead in their careers. There is no purpose for individuals other than pleasing themselves, no animating vision for society. This, for Houellebecq, is why the West is dying: people have ceased to believe in their civilization, and do not want to make the sacrifices necessary to continue it — not if it is going to cost them the thing they value the most: individual liberty to choose one’s pleasures.

In the world of the novel — set in 2022 — French politics have failed, and a Muslim government comes to power as the result of a coalition of Socialists and mainstream conservative parties being determined to keep the National Front from being voted in. Mohammed Ben Abbes, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood party, becomes president, and is an instant hit. He Islamifies the universities, and leads a general turn in French society towards modesty and conservatism. The Sorbonne is made an explicitly Muslim university, and one must convert to Islam to teach there. The non-Muslim faculty — including François — are discharged.

Rediger, a professor at the university known to François, accepts Islam, and is put in charge there. He tries to convince François to accept Islam, and rejoin the university. In a fascinating discussion, Rediger tells François that he had always known that religion was going to make a comeback in Europe, because no society can live without it. Earlier in his life, Rediger says, he was a Catholic nativist, but he grew to doubt that Europe would ever again be able to believe in Christianity.

“That Europe, which was the summit of human civilization, committed suicide in a matter of decades.” Rediger’s voice was sad. He’d left all the overhead lights off; the only illumination came from the lamp on his desk. “Throughout Europe there were anarchist and nihilist movements, calls for violence, the denial of moral law. And then a few years later it all came to an end with the unjustifiable madness of the First World War. Freud was not wrong, and neither was Thomas Mann: if France and Germany, the two most advanced, civilized nations in the world, could unleash this senseless slaughter, then Europe was dead….”

He converted to Islam, and found in it the secret to a successful life.

“It’s submission,” Rediger murmured. “The shocking and simple idea, which had never been so forcefully expressed, that the summit of human happiness resides in the most absolute submission.”

It must be said that fear that Submission is anti-Muslim is completely groundless. If anything, the Muslims in the novel are depicted as decent. My colleague Noah Millman, in his review of Submission, asked:

And the lingering question, in this reviewer’s mind at least, is: for whom, apart from Houellebecq himself, is this fantasy of submission especially appealing? If the book is a satire, who, precisely, is being satirized?

I read Submission differently from Noah. I agree with him that the fantasia of a Muslim government of France is wildly unlikely, nor do I think the French are on the verge of accepting submission to an Islamic order, however attenuated. But neither, it should be said, is the infamous novel The Camp of the Saints realistic. Like that earlier scandalous French work (which is turning out these days to be more realistic than one wishes it were), Submission creates a somewhat cartoonish world to shine a light on something real within French society. In an interview to which I link below, Houellebecq admits that it is unrealistic to imagine that a Muslim party would come together and win the presidency in such a short period of time, but it is not unthinkable decades from now. He says he is telescoping time for literary effect.

The protagonist of Submission is not remotely admirable, but he’s also such a nobody that he’s barely worth despising. He slouches through life, moved by nothing other than his appetites, and his intellectual interest in Huysmans. When he accepts Islam, it’s not because he believes in it. It’s because that is the way to achieve the things he wants most in life — a wife and children — without having to work at it. There is no grand moment of conversion; he just shrugs and accepts Islam (or rather, a facsimile thereof) as a solution to his problems.

But it’s a superficial solution. This pseudo-Islam of the French collaborators is not about Allah or the Prophet at all. The collaborators still drink alcohol, and they have a wife to cook for them and younger wives to service them sexually. It is a restoration of a previous patriarchal social order, one that, as conceived by President Ben Abbes, has explicitly political aims: to restore France, and Europe, to greatness. Islam is not a personal faith in Submission, but a religious ideology — something more vigorous than the dead, feminine Christianity — that undergirds the rebirth of the Roman Empire.

The key line in the novel is Rediger’s statement that “the summit of human happiness resides in the most absolute submission.” That is a truth that we post-Enlightenment Westerners cannot bear to hear. When the Self is the only thing to which we will submit, says the faithless Houellebecq, we cannot be other than atomized, lonely, without direction or purpose, and slaves to our own misery. Islam — the word means “submission,” and it refers to becoming the slave of Allah — takes away your freedom and returns to you purpose and a sense of transcendent meaning. Of course you can get that in Christianity too, and the true Christian thinks of himself as a servant of the Most High. Yet the Master that Christians serve is a very different one in character, and He will not force himself on us. Dostoevsky’s parable of The Grand Inquisitor teaches us that the Master of the Christian people grants them freedom. The Inquisitor, a Catholic cardinal, maintains that it is he and those like him who are the true benefactors of mankind, because they relieve suffering mankind of the burden of freedom.

41YjMnlq0CL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_In this way, Rediger is like the Grand Inquisitor: the new Islamic order to which he invites François is, ultimately, a release from the burden of freedom, a burden that François cannot handle — nor, implies Houellebecq, can contemporary France. The Muslim rulers, like the barbarians in Cavafy’s well-known poem about an exhausted wealthy people welcoming barbarian rule, “are a kind of solution.” People have to live for something beyond themselves, or they, both individually and as a people, will perish in aimless wandering. When France lived under submission to Christ the King — Houellebecq is thinking of the Middle Ages here — it achieved greatness of spirit, and produced things of lasting beauty. The puzzle that Submission leaves me with is why François (and, by extension, today’s French, and the Europeans) believe they cannot find this by returning to Christianity. I must think about this.

In a good interview with Houellebecq in The Paris Review, the author says simply that a return to Catholicism is not a realistic prospect because it has “already run its course, it seems to belong to the past, it has defeated itself.” If this is true, though, why is it true? Houellebecq is not asked this question. He goes on:

“My book describes the destruction of the philosophy handed down by the Enlightenment, which no longer makes sense to anyone, or to very few people. Catholicism, by contrast, is doing rather well. I would maintain that an alliance between Catholics and Muslims is possible. We’ve seen it happen before, it could happen again.

You who have become an agnostic, you can look on cheerfully and watch the destruction of Enlightenment philosophy?

Yes. It has to happen sometime and it might as well be now. In this sense, too, I am a Comtean. We are in what he calls the metaphysical stage, which began in the Middle Ages and whose whole point was to destroy the phase that preceded it. In itself, it can produce nothing, just emptiness and unhappiness. So yes, I am hostile to Enlightenment philosophy, I need to make that perfectly clear.

This is because the Enlightenment has brought us to the dead-end life of shopping and screwing and the misery of individual sovereignty at which François has arrived. It is the Sfar cartoon, and “Imagine” outside the scene of a massacre. This is not to say that the Enlightenment was all bad, obviously, but only that it has taken us as far as it can, and is now a destructive force, a force that produces people who do not know how to submit to anything beyond their own disordered appetites, including rage.

Speaking of disordered rage, I finished Submission on the same day that I read Ross Douthat’s most recent column, which focuses on the roots turmoil on American campuses. I found a connection there. From Douthat’s piece:

Between the 19th century and the 1950s, the American university was gradually transformed from an institution intended to transmit knowledge into an institution designed to serve technocracy. The religious premises fell away, the classical curriculums were displaced by specialized majors, the humanities ceded pride of place to technical disciplines, and the professor’s role became more and more about research rather than instruction.

Over this period the university system became increasingly rich and powerful, a center of scientific progress and economic development. But it slowly lost the traditional sense of community, mission, and moral purpose. The ghost of an older humanism still haunted its libraries and classrooms, but students seeking wisdom and character could be forgiven for feeling like a distraction from the university’s real business.

Then, says Douthat, came the 1960s radicals, who sought to “remoralize” the university, though theirs was certainly not a return to traditional morality. Douthat says that university administrators managed to co-opt the Sixties radicalism, and use “left-wing pieties” in college discourse to mask a deeper spirit that was “technocratic, careerist and basically amoral.”

Now there’s a new, fierce radicalism back on campus, and Douthat does not agree with much of what they stand for. But he pays them a certain respect:

The protesters at Yale and Missouri and a longer list of schools stand accused of being spoiled, silly, self-dramatizing – and many of them are. But they’re also dealing with a university system that’s genuinely corrupt, and that’s long relied on rote appeals to the activists’ own left-wing pieties to cloak its utter lack of higher purpose.

And within this system, the contemporary college student is actually a strange blend of the pampered and the exploited.

This is true of the college football recruit who’s a god on campus but also an unpaid cog in a lucrative football franchise that has a public college vestigially attached.

It’s true of the liberal arts student who’s saddled with absurd debts to pay for an education that doesn’t even try to pass along any version of Matthew Arnold’s “best which has been thought and said,” and often just induces mental breakdowns in the pursuit of worldly success.

It’s true of the working class or minority student who’s expected to lend a patina of diversity to a campus organized to deliver good times to rich kids whose parents pay full freight. And then it’s true of the rich girl who discovers the same university that promised her a carefree Rumspringa (justified on high feminist principle, of course) doesn’t want to hear a word about what happened to her at that frat party over the weekend.

The protesters may be obnoxious enemies of free debate, in other words, but they aren’t wrong to smell the rot around them. And they’re vindicated every time they push and an administrator caves: It’s proof that they have a monopoly on moral spine, and that any small-l liberal alternative is simply hollow.

Read the whole thing. It’s one of the more important pieces you will read all year. Think of it when you look at something like this idiotic nonsense that happened yesterday at Clemson University:

Breaking the Bathroom Binary

Monday, November 16 at 10:00am to 2:00pm
Hendrix Student Center, Restrooms
720 McMillan Rd., Clemson, SC 29634, USA<

Part of Trans* Week of Awareness, various restrooms across campus will be temporarily transformed into non-gendered restrooms. This experience will allow folks to experience a non-gendered, fully inclusive restroom and see what the difference is (or is not).

It costs $24,000 per year for in-state residents to attend Clemson, and almost twice that for out-of-state residents. Is Trans Week of Awareness emblematic of the Clemson experience? Almost certainly not. It is a surpassingly trivial event, but it nevertheless tells us something important about the indoctrination of the next generation. The Clemson alum who sent that to me says:

Apparently the Chief Diversity Office and the Multicultural Center are responsible for designating the week, and their first event will be — of course — making certain bathrooms on campus gender neutral. Keep in mind, this isn’t a club that’s putting this event on, it’s a tuition funded office at the university that now seems to be promoting transsexual ideology.

Now, the fact that this is being put on by the Multicultural Center and not, say, by a “LGBTQ Center,” tells me that Clemson hasn’t gone very far down the rabbit hole just yet. They aren’t so emphasizing LGBTQ identity that they’ve created separate offices with staff for the cause. But I’ve been told by people put on committees for the purpose of looking into the idea that a full-time Chief Diversity Officer will be hired soon, presumably with dedicated staff of their own.

If this is what the Diversity Office is already doing at Clemson, I wonder what further mischief they’ll be getting us into. This just confirms to me the way in which the concept of “diversity” on our college campuses has actually become advocacy of a certain way of thinking.

So, part of the American college experience in 2015, even at a small private large publicly funded Southern college in a conservative state, is being trained to think of sharing bathrooms with men dressed as women as an act of social justice and liberation.

Oh, Enlightenment, is there anything you can’t do?

As Douthat, Houellebecq, Ferguson, and Vodolazkin all aver, in their different ways, these scattered events that trouble us all have their roots in a fundamental breakdown of civilizational order and confidence. This is about the Western mind, but more importantly, it’s about the Western soul. 9781780747552

The breakdown, the crack-up, will be painful, violent, unpredictable, and long-lasting. But it’s coming. In fact, it has begun. I believe that the Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev, in his 1923 book The End of the Modern World, in which he prophesied the rise of a “New Middle Ages,” is telling us what is to emerge out of the chaos of our cultural suicide. As I wrote some time ago, quoting Berdyaev:

F]aith in the ultimate political and social salvation of mankind is quenched. We have reached settlement-day after a series of centuries during which movement was from the centre, the spiritual core of life, to the periphery, its surface and social exterior. And the more empty of religious significance social life has become, the more it has tyrannized over the general life of man.  … The world needs a strong reaction from this domination by exterior things, a change back in favour of interior spiritual life, not only for the sake of individuals but for the sake of real metaphysical life itself. To many who are caught up in the web of modern activities this must sound like an invitation to suicide. But we have got to choose. The life of the spirit is either a sublime reality or an illusion: accordingly we have either to look for salvation in it rather than in the fuss of politics, or else dismiss it altogether as false. When it seems that everything is over and finished, when the earth crumbles away under our feet as it does today, when there is neither hope nor illusion, when we can see all things naked and undeceiving, then is the acceptable time for a religious quickening in the world. We are at that time… .

The Benedict Option that I keep talking about is, at bottom, an attempt at this “religious quickening” of the New Middle Age, a return to a deep and authentic life of the spirit. The Benedict Option is what Houellebecq’s François would have undertaken had he stood before the Black Madonna and answered the call he felt. He made his choice, and that choice dictated subsequent choices. We too have got to choose. Complacency = death.

Two novels — Submission and Laurus — two diagnoses of our time (one direct, the other indirect) — but only one filled with beauty, transcendence, and real hope. In my interview with Vodolazkin yesterday, he told me that got the idea for his novel Laurus by looking around him at the bleakness of daily life in Russia, and the nihilistic garbage on TV and on bookshelves, and deciding that he would undertake to write a book about a good life — that is, the life of a good man. By creating the story of a pilgrim in the Middle Ages, with all its violence, poverty, and suffering, but also the joy and purpose its people experience from their awareness of God being everywhere present and filling all things, Vodolazkin opens the door to this New Middle Age. In the book, he creates for his Russian Orthodox protagonist, Arseny, a companion on the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, an Italian Catholic named Ambrogio — this, in Vodolazkin’s words, to express his love for his Western brothers and sisters, and for Italy in particular. The journey of these men in Laurus is the journey available to all of us Christians in this time of sorrow and confusion. It is a journey of hope.

Vodolazkin, a scholar who works on medieval manuscripts at Russia’s Pushkin House, was recently in the UK giving talks about his work and his novel. From an excerpt on the TLS blog (emphases below are mine):

Laurus, which has already been translated into more than twenty languages worldwide, was Russia’s literary sensation of 2013, scooping both the Big Book and the Yasnaya Polyana awards. This, Vodolazkin’s second novel (though his debut in English), captures religious fervour in fifteenth-century Russia, tracking the life of a healer and holy fool in a postmodern synthesis of Bildungsroman, travelogue, hagiography and love story. “To quote Lermontov,” he said, “it is ‘the history of a man’s soul’.” However, when von Zitzewitz touched on the significance of the work’s subtitle (“a non-historical novel”), Vodolazkin was quick to dissociate himself from historical fiction. His is ultimately “a book about absence,” he said, “a book about modernity”. “There are two ways to write about modernity: the first is by writing about the things we have; the second, by writing about those things we no longer have.”

Laurus is an astonishing book about what we in modernity no longer have — a palpable sense of God, and of meaning and purpose in life, both individual and communal. It is about what we may have again, if we want it. Hope is memory plus desire.

UPDATE: Forgot to add that in our interview, Vodolazkin referenced a perestroika-era film, Repentance, that he described as relevant to our own time. It’s a film about the Soviet destruction of culture, and its aftermath. In the final scene, an old lady asks a woman standing in a window if the road she is on will take her to the church. No, says the woman.

“What good is a road if it doesn’t lead to church?” says the old woman, and walks on.

Yes. We have been walking this Enlightenment road for far too long, and it has us now in a dark wood.

About charliej373

Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He has received prophetic visitation all his life, which he has vetted through a trio of priests over the last 20 years, and now speaks publicly about on this site. Yet he emphasizes that we find God most surely through the ordinary, doing the little things we should with faith and fidelity. Hence the name, The Next Right Step. The visitations inform his work, but are not the focus of it. He lives in the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States.
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185 Responses to The Beginning of Wisdom

  1. YongDuk says:

    “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” — Luke 18:8

    I struggle with the Image of the Priesthood in much of the West. Many blame it on Jansenism and the Protestant Reformation wherein Seminaries were located in territories torn apart by both. Ireland and Irish Catholicism suffered from this. Other parts of Europe too. But the influence of Irish Catholicism predominates in much of the English speaking world. (Religious Orders and Confraternities sprung up to spread Devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the Providential Care of God to counter this. )

    In much of the East, the Priest and even the Bishop are seen as part of the family. It’s not that idyllic by any stretch, but it is nonetheless culturally engrained.

    Talk to Priests. Ask them the least favorite day of the week. Or time of the week. Sunday afternoon might be the majority’s answer when the Parish is emptied, doors are locked. Where is the family? Imagine the struggle with hope…

    A man, a human being alone, without a spouse or without consecration to religious life, struggles with the drudgery of work, to leave work faced with what, to look forward to what?

    Hope is fragile and Satan seeks to kill hope.

    To give hope!

    Imagine the blessing from God! Not just to give love, but also hope…

    +

    Liked by 12 people

    • NancyA says:

      oh, my, Yong Duk. your imagery and plea touches me, very deeply. I will remember you in my prayers for that hope that is so fragile and beleaguered! A deeply heartfelt thank you for your gift of yourself.

      Liked by 3 people

    • donna says:

      God Bless you, YD! God Bless you….btw, what is your least favorite day of the week?

      Liked by 1 person

    • YongDuk says:

      I am going to say this here. Hopefully, it is Wisdom and not my ego.

      The last two days, the Evil One has been attacking me.

      I abhor the Evil One. I hate being attacked. I hate struggling to be mercy–to call out “Mercy!” to the Father against whom (those people) I know to have been evil, to have chosen evil, to have murdered in evil–especially in name (killing reputations) as they claim to be Christians and justifying themselves as Christians in Self-protection: Another Judas. And even in the disguise of a staunchly traditional (Tridentine) Catholic family and in the role of the Authority of an Ordinary.

      I am too weak at times to struggle and certain seasons bring these memories back into focus and, Saturday night, as I lay in my bed as Compline says this attack happened. And two days later, in my rest, the same attack.

      I just read some comments about Islam again.

      You have no idea if you keep looking at the horizon, such as at the “Impending Storm” or ISIS, how much evil you are missing right next door, in those who justify their behaviour, in the evil they choose, and in how they declare themselves “Christians”, while they are anti-Charity, going up to receive our Lord in the Eucharist in vain, into hardened hearts self-justified.

      Please, Friends, ask God to purify you, too show you your faults, to enlighten you to how you may lack charity, lest you become … become murderers of Charity …or silent and fall into sins of omission.

      I shall spare the details. But I shall say that I unfortunately see a future wherein I am an Avenging Archangel and am in potentia now. And, my friends for whom I have been praying, I ask for your prayers. To know what I know and to have to sit in silence and stirred up either by God (it was the Vigil of Christ the King) or by the Evil One, I do not know. …I too answer to a Spiritual Director… but I do say, please become holy.

      I say again become holy.

      I have seen God’s Punishment on those who betrayed the innocent either in action or word or silent omission. I have seen His Wrath on those who should represent Him. And I struggle and I write this struggling not to ask God to say, “Enough!”

      Stop pointing fingers on the outside and ask God to scrub your insides.

      Right the wrongs. Even if it means going back years to clear a name you slandered or did not stand up for.

      Be a Simon of Cyrene.

      You do not know the crosses some people carry and what they hope for in being understood. Do not be quietistic and say that if they are holy God will give them what they need. They are human and they have hearts that bleed and eyes that weep. To be a Saint is to be misundertood, but imagine the grace if you can at least help them carry their Cross: to be hope?

      I have stood in a Chancery, and I have heard the smugness of Monsignors say exactly echoing the Book of Wisdom: if God is his friend, He will save him.

      If you were that person who did that as a Christian–judging your neighbor with limited knowledge and possibly condemning him or her to Pharisees, as Charlie says, woe upon you. If you know of that situation, alleviate that situation. Do not let it go till the Day of Judgment. The Offender may be allowed to be hardened–falsely esteemed Catholic or not–and suffer the Fires of Hell forever.

      Bring Peace. Sew Peace. Give Hope…

      And if the offender does have to suffer God’s Punishment, do not lie to them with platitudes, but help them to be resigned to their punishments. Do not lie and do not judge. Misfortune often is God’s Mercy. Help those who justify the evil they have done to undo self-justification for the wrongs they have done against their neighbor to admit their flaw and alleviate the crosses with which they have burdened those they have wronged. If you can’t undo the wrong, pray. But don’t be quietistic. Don’t pray when you should act to speak out the truth and stir others into action when they have murdered and oppressed. You may well save their souls and glorious is your reward.

      Pray. I am weak upon my Cross. I am happy upon my Cross. But someday my Sword shall flash and while I wish for mercy now, then it shall only be justice! (I write this before the Eucharist to give vent and voice… I am blessed to have Jesus close…)

      Remember St. Jadwiga (Hedwig) in St. Faustina’s Diary!

      Perhaps I am blessed to be happily slightly neurotic. To blame myself too easily. But to be shown that I may one day stand lIke an Avenging Archangel is not what I would choose for myself.

      Sub Silencio,
      +Yong Duk

      Liked by 10 people

      • charliej373 says:

        Funny, YD, this is part of the theme of the piece I am working on, too. All you say is true…but you will be amazed at how people answer the call – and people who don’t even know they are called…or that they lack anything. I have seen clerics and clerical who are smug with their supposed knowledge and refinement. I tell you, YD, many of them will be heroes. I have had the privilege of seeing occasionally a little through the eyes of the Lord. Oh, if people knew how tender and intensely He loves us…and what silly, pretentious children we are. All of us. He will bring us back.

        Liked by 8 people

        • YongDuk says:

          Thank you, Charlie. I in no ways mean to usurp.

          I know God is gentle and generous. And I know He can take someone slow and make them heroic.

          I wrote that as a catalyst. For people to think in regards to their stance in the world. To want to be purified now.

          God in the Eucharist breathes a breath of hope and life and freedom.

          Sorry if that was lacking in my sound bite. 😉

          Charlie, Your sinful servant, through and in service to your friend, Pope St. John Paul II,
          Yong Duk

          Like

          • charliej373 says:

            YD, I wrote to encourage you, not to rebuke you. I have been in need of encouragement many times. It sounded like you needed it. I have also been, on occasion, pushed to see a little through the eyes of the satan – which is why I so loathe him. He is worse than I have ever heard anyone describe.

            Like

          • YongDuk says:

            Thank you, Charlie; just a bit homesick for Heaven.

            Never thought I would understand that in St. Paul or St. Faustina, etc.

            I don’t need to tell you the profundity of “the next right step” in light of the Love we get to be and share in Heaven.

            Never did I think I would ever sit on Patmos close to Jesus in the Eucharist and say “How long?” like St. John and the answer resounded that it may be decades…. sorry …got to me. Thanks for seeing beyond my words as a friend… and to ALL.

            Two Masses so far for Alexander (and all Alexanders): our Lady of Good Counsel and our Lady Cause of our Joy.

            Like

          • prayingflower says:

            YongDuk, You are included in all of my prayers, particularly my daily Litany of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Priest and Victim, which i say for all priests. Additionally, I am starting today to pray the Novena of St. Andrew specifically for your needs. May the Child Jesus rest in your heart during this special time. You are my sunshine. God bless you and your important work.

            Liked by 2 people

        • YongDuk says:

          Charlie, you may know God better than me. I don’t mind. Pray for me, please.

          Years ago, during a Eucharistic Conference, I asked God to understand a situation, to heal my poor heart. I expected Him to show me “rainbows and lollipops” and tell me to offer it up. Instead, the Father showed me His View.

          Unbelievable wrath…

          MERCY!

          I cried.

          Mercy!

          I understood Jesus.

          And a year ago and three months, the Lord showed me through the eyes of Jesus, Him about to be crucified (about to be nailed to the Cross): the heat, the sweat, the blood, the sultry air were nothing compared to the rim of People whom I saw through His Eyes and what He knew and how He saw them.

          If you have seen either, Charlie, I rejoice that you have been shown more of the hope than I and the abounding Love and Hope. But I saw His Truth, His Love, His Compassion, His Vulnerability despite.

          But that is your Mission, Charlie, you know that more than I.

          Friends, my Mission is to the Fallen Priests and to the Dying. My mission is the the murderers. Doug, I speak to you. Josh, I speak to you. To the others to whom I wrote Charlie, have hope, God heals. Don’t fall. Don’t settle. It may take family to restore you against the prudential words of Francis last Friday, but God can and does heal. Pray for Alexander. His namesake is a Centurion Martyr. And I shall pray for you.

          We can be heroes…

          We can be heroes, forever and ever
          What’d you say?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Josh in IN says:

            YongDuk, you say your mission is to the fallen priests: please pray for my friend C. who left the priesthood earlier this year because he no longer believes and wants to lead a life that is not compatible with a vocation. He suffers greatly, both because of his own choices and actions and because of the uncharity of others. He needs to come home. His heart is hardening. When my family got back from being in Mexico during Patricia, he texted “thank whoever you made it back safely.” That broke my heart but also gave me hope because he still expressed gratitude. Please pray for him.

            I know I’m not the “Josh” you referred to when you wrote “Josh, I speak to you,” but my name is Josh and your comments really did speak to me! Thanks.

            Liked by 1 person

          • YongDuk says:

            Happily, Josh!

            I am surprised at the statistics of the number of Priests in America who leave within the first five years. I was shocked and incredibly saddened when a beautiful OCD (Carmelite, not obsessive-compulsive) Priest left and reverted to his former Protestantism. I will pray for C.

            Like

          • charliej373 says:

            We have a lot coming in, too, YD. Many Anglican Priests have come in through the Pastoral Provision and are now a blessing to our Catholic faith in America.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Doug says:

            YD, I am greatly humbled. I just read this after I finished my Ignatius study for today 1 hour ago. I also sadly missed last two days (my fault). Today was meditating on the rich man and Lazarus the beggar. Colloquy: I ask God how have I ignored those right in front of me? Am I so absorbed in self importance that I miss those in need right in front if me? I even ask, am I too absorbed in TNRS blog that I miss what is in front of me (hope not, I love it here)? Jesus was addressing the pharasees when he said that (I’m sure you know that). I find this scripture more terrifying than any other scripture in the Bible. Lord have mercy on me! You cannot leave for heaven yet as you are training us/me like Charlie is training us. I am grateful.

            Like

          • Doug says:

            Lord, to whom else shall we go? You have the words of eternal life? Thank you Peter.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Doug says:

            Oh. And I must add, I am ever grateful for you priests. Without you, we will not have the Eucharist or confession or last rites! Such graces we the faithful have been given. I really want to encourage you YD! When I go to confession, I am sure to always thank the priest and tell him/them how much I appreciate him/them! I know this may sound like bragging, but I really am very grateful! I always pray the fifth joyful and the third sorrowful mysteries for priests, deacons and religious and because of you YD, I have added bishops. Holy Father gets his own (the fifth sorrowful an fifth luminous).

            Liked by 1 person

        • zeniazenia says:

          Happy Tuesday! ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, WITH THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God.’ Philippians 4:6
          Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving with a perfectly close family that never disagrees, with your family who can’t agree on anything, if you will be stuck in traffic or if your guest will be, if you celebrate with friends or if your friends are far away, if you are alone because you have lost a loved one, or alone because you are called to be in your cozy hermitage. if your health is failing (I pray Jesus will heal you- He wants to)- don’t be anxious because Jesus is with us– so be thankful.
          Acknowledge God, be a sign of Hope and take the next right step.
          For y’all in other countries not celebrating the American Thanksgiving, Day you have the symbolic chair next to me at the table. God bless- Dzien Dobry
          Your silliest, but very loving, of all your pretentious sisters, (if you say so Charlie I have decide to trust you in these matters) – Jane Zenia :0)

          Liked by 3 people

          • Beckita says:

            Thank you, Jane, for this beautiful exhortation and most charming invitation. I have also appreciated the beautiful ways you have been praying the Prayer for Miraculous Trust for us all. Prayers ascending for you and your needs.

            Liked by 1 person

      • Beckita says:

        LOVE this, YD. Much material for meditation. Thank you. “We ALL have secret fears to face and minds and motives to amend.” May the Lord grant us wisdom and discernment to know when to pray and when to act.

        Thank you, Charlie for your response. I wait in joyful hope to be amazed with YD and ALL as the Lord calls and raises dead bones! And I especially appreciate: “He loves us…and what silly, pretentious children we are. All of us. He will bring us back.”

        In the meanwhile, I take to heart: “…ask God to scrub your insides.” AND I take to my heart of prayer ALL here who are on the CROSS in an excruciating way at this time.

        Liked by 3 people

      • NancyA says:

        I keep reading and rereading this. I don’t fully understand, but I know enough to accuse myself. Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Rara Avis says:

        Yong Duk, your words are piercing my soul because I read extreme urgency for us to repent. By your prompting I have asked the Holy Spirit for illumination. Thank you for loving us so much that you will plead with us to ask God for complete purification of our souls. The word “plead” doesn’t seem to express the correct intensity of your exhortation. I do not have any visions or voices from Heaven but I believe others do. I trust you and Charlie because you are leading us, in love, to the throne of God. This is an incredible family! YD, I am grateful that your gentle presence is in my life every day. I will pray for you as I know that you pray for us, your family. — Brenda

        Liked by 5 people

    • Doug says:

      Interesting thought YD. I tend to think the Protestant out growth and Jansonism were due to the bad examples from the priests at that time and is reflected today in the Clergy abuse crises of the west. I think that is why Jesus spoke so strongly against the pharasies and Sadducees because they, being the religious leaders, needed to set a good example. This humbles me. After all, who wants to be a pharasee because they are not fair-you-see and who wants to be Sadducee, because they are so-sad-you-see.

      I also believe our Lord sends the right Saint for the right time too like for today visa vie our Lady of Medjugorje and folks like you (yes. You) and Charlie, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Becky-TN says:

    Interesting read….

    Like

  3. Julie says:

    Charlie, Here is an article by well known author, Peter Kreeft, stating we are at war. Having said this, he clarifies what we need in order to fight the war. In it, he addresses Islam, Muslims, heretics in the church, and all the other rabble we have been looking at in this blog as we prepare for the Great Storm. I find it refreshing because it reinforces what you have been saying, which is that the focus is on my behavior rather than that of the “other” and what to do about the “other”.

    How to Win the War against the Culture of Death
    Julie

    by Peter Kreeft –

    To win any war, the three most necessary things to know are: (1) that you are at war, (2) who your enemy is, and (3) what weapons or strategies can defeat him.

    You cannot win a war (1) if you simply sew peace banners on a battlefield, (2) if you fight civil wars against your allies, or (3) if you use the wrong weapons.

    Here is a three point checklist for the culture wars.

    1) We Are at War

    If you don’t know that our entire civilization is in crisis, I hope you had a nice vacation on the moon.

    Many minds do seem moonstruck, however, blissfully unaware of the crisis—especially the “intellectuals,” who are supposed to be the most on top of current events. I was dumbfounded to read a cover article in Time devoted to the question: Why is everything getting better? Why is life so good today? Why does everybody feel so satisfied about the quality of life? Time never questioned the assumption, it just wondered why the music on the Titanic sounded so nice.

    It turned out, on reading the article, that every single aspect of life that was mentioned, every single reason for life getting better, was economic. People are richer. End of discussion.

    Perhaps Time is just Playboy with clothes on. For one kind of playboy, the world is one great big whorehouse. For another kind, it’s one great big piggy bank. For both, things are getting better and better.

    There is a scientific refutation of the Pig Philosophy: the statistical fact that suicide, the most in-your-face index of unhappiness, is directly proportionate to wealth. The richer you are, the richer your family is, and the richer your country is, the more likely it is that you will find life so good that you will choose to blow your brains apart.

    Suicide among pre-adults has increased 5000% since the “happy days” of the ’50s. If suicide, especially among the coming generation, is not an index of crisis, nothing is.

    Night is falling. What Chuck Colson has labeled “a new Dark Ages” is looming. And its Brave New World proved to be only a Cowardly Old Dream. We can see this now, at the end of “the century of genocide” that was christened “the Christian century” at its birth.

    We’ve had prophets who warned us: Kierkegaard, 150 years ago, in The Present Age;and Spengler, 100 years ago, in The Decline of the West; and Aldous Huxley, seventy years ago, in Brave New World; and C. S. Lewis, forty years ago, in The Abolition of Man; and above all our popes: Leo XIII and Pius IX and Pius X and above all John Paul the Great, the greatest man in the world, the greatest man of the worst century. He had even more chutzpah than Ronald Reagan, who dared to call Them “the evil empire”: He called Us “the culture of death.” That’s our culture, and his, including Italy, with the lowest birth rate in the world, and Poland, which now wants to share in the rest of the West’s abortion holocaust.

    If the God of life does not respond to this culture of death with judgment, God is not God. If God does not honor the blood of the hundreds of millions of innocent victims then the God of the Bible, the God of Israel, the God of orphans and widows, the Defender of the defenseless, is a man-made myth, a fairy tale.

    But is not God forgiving?

    He is, but the unrepentant refuse forgiveness. How can forgiveness be received by a moral relativist who denies that there is anything to forgive except a lack of self-esteem, nothing to judge but “judgmentalism?” How can a Pharisee or a pop psychologist be saved?

    But is not God compassionate?

    He is not compassionate to Moloch and Baal and Ashtaroth, and to Caananites who do their work, who “cause their children to walk through the fire.” Perhaps your God is—the God of your dreams, the God of your “religious preference”—but not the God revealed in the Bible.

    But is not the God of the Bible revealed most fully and finally in the New Testament rather than the Old? In sweet and gentle Jesus rather than wrathful and warlike Jehovah?

    The opposition is heretical: the old Gnostic-Manichaean-Marcionite heresy, as immortal as the demons who inspired it. For “I and the Father are one.” The opposition between nice Jesus and nasty Jehovah denies the very essence of Christianity: Christ’s identity as the Son of God. Let’s remember our theology and our biology: like Father, like Son.

    But is not God a lover rather than a warrior?

    No, God is a lover who is a warrior. The question fails to understand what love is, what the love that God is, is. Love is at war with hate, betrayal, selfishness, and all love’s enemies. Love fights. Ask any parent. Yuppie-love, like puppy-love, may be merely “compassion” (the fashionable word today), but father-love and mother-love are war.

    In fact, every page of the Bible bristles with spears, from Genesis 3 through Revelation 20. The road from Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained is soaked in blood. At the very center of the story is a cross, a symbol of conflict if there ever was one. The theme of spiritual warfare is never absent in scripture, and never absent in the life and writings of a single saint. But it is never present in the religious education of any of my “Catholic” students at Boston College. Whenever I speak of it, they are stunned and silent, as if they have suddenly entered another world. They have. They have gone past the warm fuzzies, the fur coats of psychology-disguised-as-religion, into a world where they meet Christ the King, not Christ the Kitten.

    Welcome back from the moon, kids.

    Where is the culture of death coming from? Here. America is the center of the culture of death. America is the world’s one and only cultural superpower.

    If I haven’t shocked you yet, I will now. Do you know what Muslims call us? They call us “The Great Satan.” And do you know what I call them? I call them right.

    But America has the most just, and moral, and wise, and biblical historical and constitutional foundation in all the world. America is one of the most religious countries in the world. The Church is big and rich and free in America.

    Yes. Just like ancient Israel. And if God still loves his Church in America, he will soon make it small and poor and persecuted, as he did to ancient Israel, so that he can keep it alive. If he loves us, he will prune us, and we will bleed, and the blood of the martyrs will be the seed of the Church again, and a second spring will come—but not without blood. It never happens without blood, sacrifice, and suffering. The continuation of Christ’s work—if it is really Christ’s work and not a comfortable counterfeit—can never happen without the Cross.

    I don’t mean merely that Western civilization will die. That’s a piece of trivia. I mean eternal souls will die. Billions of Ramons and Vladamirs and Janes and Tiffanies will go to Hell. That’s what’s at stake in this war: not just whether America will become a banana republic, or whether we’ll forget Shakespeare, or even whether some nuclear terrorist will incinerate half of humanity, but whether our children and our children’s children will see God forever. That’s what’s at stake in “Hollywood versus America.” That’s why we must wake up and smell the rotting souls. Knowing we are at war is the first requirement for winning it.

    The next thing we must do to win a war is to know our enemy.

    2) Our Enemy

    Who is our enemy?

    Not Protestants. For almost half a millennium, many of us thought our enemies were Protestant heretics, and addressed that problem by consigning their bodies to battlefields and their souls to Hell. (Echoes of this strategy can still be heard in Northern Ireland.) Gradually, the light dawned: Protestants are not our enemies, they are our “separated brethren.” They will fight with us.

    Not Jews. For almost two millennia many of us thought that, and did such Christless things to our “fathers in the faith” that we made it almost impossible for the Jews to see their God—the true God—in us.

    Not Muslims, who are often more loyal to their half-Christ than we are to our whole Christ, who often live more godly lives following their fallible scriptures and their fallible prophet than we do following our infallible scriptures and our infallible prophet.

    The same is true of the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Quakers.

    Our enemies are not “the liberals.” For one thing, the term is almost meaninglessly flexible. For another, it’s a political term, not a religious one. Whatever is good or bad about political liberalism, it’s neither the cause nor the cure of our present spiritual decay. Spiritual wars are not decided by whether welfare checks increase or decrease.

    Our enemies are not anti-Catholic bigots who want to crucify us. They are the ones we’re trying to save. They are our patients, not our disease. Our word for them is Christ’s: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We say this of the Chinese communist totalitarians who imprison and persecute Catholics, and to the Sudanese Muslim terrorists who enslave and murder Catholics. They are not our enemies, they are our patients. We are Christ’s nurses. The patients think the nurses are their enemies, but the nurses know better.

    Our enemies are not even the media of the culture of death, not even Ted Turner or Larry Flynt or Howard Stern or Disney or Time-Warner. They too are victims, patients, though on a rampage against the hospital, poisoning other patients. But the poisoners are our patients too. So are homosexual activists, feminist witches, and abortionists. We go into gutters and pick up the spiritually dying and kiss those who spit at us, if we are cells in our Lord’s Body. If we do not physically go into gutters, we go into spiritual gutters, for we go where the need is.

    Our enemies are not heretics within the Church, “cafeteria Catholics,” “Kennedy Catholics,” “I Did It My Way” Catholics. They are also our patients, though they are Quislings. They are the victims of our enemy, not our enemy.

    Our enemies are not theologians in so-called Catholic theology departments who have sold their souls for thirty pieces of scholarship and prefer the plaudits of their peers to the praise of God. They are also our patients.

    Our enemy is not even the few really bad priests and bishops, candidates for Christ’s Millstone of the Month Award, the modern Pharisees. They too are victims, in need of healing.

    Who, then, is our enemy?

    There are two answers. All the saints and popes throughout the Church’s history have given the same two answers, for these answers come from the Word of God on paper in the New Testament and the Word of God in flesh in Jesus Christ.

    Yet they are not well known. In fact, the first answer is almost never mentioned today. Not once in my life have I ever heard a homily on it, or a lecture by a Catholic theologian.

    Our enemies are demons. Fallen angels. Evil spirits.

    So says Jesus Christ: “Do not fear those who can kill the body and then has no more power over you. I will tell you whom to fear. Fear him who has power to destroy both body and soul in Hell.”

    So says St. Peter, the first pope: “The Devil, like a roaring lion, is going through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Resist him, steadfast in the faith.”

    So says St. Paul: “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers of wickedness in high places.”

    So said Pope Leo the XIII, who received a vision of the 20th century that history has proved terrifyingly true. He saw Satan, at the beginning of time, allowed one century in which to do his worst work, and he chose the 20th. This pope with the name and heart of a lion was so overcome by the terror of this vision that he fell into a trance. When he awoke, he composed a prayer for the whole Church to use to get it through the 20th century. The prayer was widely known and prayed after every Mass—until the ’60s: exactly when the Church was struck with that incomparably swift disaster that we have not yet named (but which future historians will), the disaster that has destroyed a third of our priests, two-thirds of our nuns, and nine-tenths of our children’s theological knowledge; the disaster that has turned the faith of our fathers into the doubts of our dissenters, the wine of the Gospel into the water of psychobabble.

    The restoration of the Church, and thus the world, might well begin with the restoration of the Lion’s prayer and the Lion’s vision, because this is the vision of all the popes and all the saints and our Lord himself: the vision of a real Hell, a real Satan, and real spiritual warfare.

    I said there were two enemies. The second is even more terrifying than the first. There is one nightmare even more terrible than being chased and caught and tortured by the Devil. That is the nightmare of becoming a devil. The horror outside your soul is terrible enough; how can you bear to face the horror inside your soul?

    What is the horror inside your soul? Sin. All sin is the Devil’s work, though he usually uses the flesh and the world as his instruments. Sin means inviting the Devil in. And we do it. That’s the only reason why he can do his awful work; God won’t let him do it without our free consent. And that’s why the Church is weak and the world is dying: because we are not saints.

    3) The Weapon

    And thus we have our third Necessary Thing: the weapon that will win the war and defeat our enemy.

    All it takes is saints.

    Can you imagine what twelve more Mother Teresas would do for the world? Can you imagine what would happen if just twelve readers of this article offered Christ 100% of their hearts and held back nothing, absolutely nothing?

    No, you can’t imagine it, any more than anyone could imagine how twelve nice Jewish boys could conquer the Roman Empire. You can’t imagine it, but you can do it. You can become a saint. Absolutely no one and nothing can stop you. It is your free choice. Here is one of the truest and most terrifying sentences I have ever read (from William Law’s Serious Call): “If you will look into your own heart in complete honesty, you must admit that there is one and only one reason why you are not a saint: you do not wholly want to be.”

    That insight is terrifying because it is an indictment. But it is also thrillingly hopeful because it is an offer, an open door. Each of us can become a saint. We really can.

    What holds us back? Fear of paying the price.

    What is the price? The answer is simple. T.S. Eliot defines the Christian life as: “A condition of complete simplicity/Costing not less than/Everything.” The price is everything: 100%. A worse martyrdom than the quick noose or stake: the martyrdom of dying daily, dying to all your desires and plans, including your plans about how to become a saint. A blank check to God. Complete submission, “islam,” “fiat”—Mary’s thing. Look what that simple Mary-thing did 2000 years ago: It brought God down and saved the world.

    It was meant to continue.

    If we do that Mary-thing—and only if we do that—then all our apostolates will “work”: our missioning and catechizing and fathering and mothering and teaching and studying and nursing and businessing and priesting and bishoping—everything.

    A bishop asked one of the priests of his diocese for recommendations on ways to increase vocations. The priest replied: The best way to attract men in this diocese to the priesthood, Your Excellency, would be your canonization.

    Why not yours?

    Reprinted from PeterKreeft.com

    Liked by 18 people

    • charliej373 says:

      Brilliant! But Peter Kreeft is almost always brilliant.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Kim sevier says:

        Kreeft is great. Heard him speak and read his stuff. Everywhere I turn you message, Charlie, is reinforced by powerful sources.

        Like

    • YongDuk says:

      Beautifully and wonderfully said!

      Thank you for posting this!

      Liked by 2 people

    • jlynnbyrd says:

      Julie, that is beautifully and simply put. Thank you for sharing.

      Like

    • sean sullivan says:

      I agree on all points with a hesitency on verbiage (wording). Within one of the last paragraphs commencing with “What is the price? … Complete submission to god – islam… fiat to mary”. I disagree.

      Christians ‘surrender’ to God. We allow (volunter) our free will to ‘merge’ with God’s Will.

      Islam submits. Islam forces ‘your’ free will to merge with the “muslim” faith.

      In essence: Christians/Jews- surrender faith to God; (WITHOUT] Compulsion}

      Islam- submits to god {WITH Compulsion}

      Otherwise, excellent article!

      Like

    • Stunning! Thanks Julie.

      Like

    • marlonancy says:

      Thank for sharing. Peter Kreeft’s writting is gold. Wow I loved it!

      Like

    • donna says:

      thank you for introducing me to this Peter Kreeft.!

      Like

    • Colleen DeRose says:

      Charlie’s posting was sobering, frightening in its implication that souls are smothered by acedia, a most difficult sin to flail one’s way out of. The Kreeft posting is bracing: it blasts away all the fog that acedia is and clears the head. Thanks for both posts. (Acedia=spiritual sloth; once on the list of cardinal sins but eventually combined with sloth)

      Liked by 1 person

    • prayingflower says:

      I met Peter Kreeft many years ago, also. He was awesome than and he’s still awesome. My husband reads everything written by Kreeft that he can get his hands on. Such solid and understandable stuff. Thank you for this, Julie. God bless him. And God bless you and your family as well, Julie.

      Liked by 2 people

    • One of my all time favorites from the great Peter Kreeft! I used to read that piece over the air on Catholic radio from time to time and always had listeners asking for copies. I think that article was originally published in Crisis Magazine. Wouldn’t it be great if priests across our nation would deliver that from the pulpit or at least print it in the parish bulletin!

      Liked by 6 people

      • marcyc48 says:

        I think l shall speak to my pastor about it after Mass in the morning! He is just 40, a former Marine, so humble, he says the most reverant Tridentine Mass and sometimes l think he is in escasy when he elevates the host at the Consecration.. But he does speak his mind . The Sunday after the Supreme Court decision on same sex marriage, he was vociferious in his opinion, which was right on,.that I thought, l hope there aren’t any government spies here!
        I have heard Peter Kreeft on Catholic Answers many times, but have never read his books. I will have to do so, after l finish the 5 or 6 l have waiting by Venerable Fulton Sheen! 😊

        Liked by 3 people

        • I’d love to hear what his response is … And as a Marine myself – no such thing as a “former” Marine 🙂 – I’ll bet he’ll go for it! Either way please pass on a Semper Fi and big OoooRah to your pastor … and please ask him to pray for me.

          A pastor – Marine, I like the sound of that – and it reminds me of the verse from our great Marine Corps Hymn … “If the Army and the Navy ever look on Heaven’s scene, they will find the streets are guarded by UNITED STATES MARINES!” I always loved that verse! So humble 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

          • YongDuk says:

            Scratching my head at the theology of that verse, but love the sentiment!

            N.B. My brother-in-law is a Marine… but i am more Navy. (Goes with the whole Barque mystique…)

            Have a blessed and safe Thanksgiving, Everybody; praying the Angels — especially St. Raphael — for safe travels and happy meetings, and for you Carlos. Remember Alexander too. Enjoy your squirrel-stuffed turkey!

            +Young Duck

            Like

          • charliej373 says:

            Marines are very proud. It is part of what makes them lovable, reliable and – occasionally, irritating. They’re kind of like Texans…always boasting about how much bigger everything is in Texas. I read a story once of a Texas Senator who would not shut up about the grandeur of everything from Texas. After a while, a Senator from Alaska told him if he did not shut up, Alask was going to split into two states and make Texas the third biggest state. Ha!

            (Now I have to note I have fallen in love with Texas. It’s gone so far I even root for the Cowboys so long as they aren’t playing the Bears or the Broncos. But I still love that story.)

            Liked by 2 people

          • YongDuk says:

            They just moved from TX, Charlie… would be funny if you knew them. But they are secular humanists.

            Say a prayer please and for my other sister, Theresa!

            Thanks for the laughs and love,
            +YD

            Liked by 3 people

          • jlynnbyrd says:

            YD, prayers for all your beloved.

            Like

          • YongDuk says:

            P.S. Charlie, I didn’t say anything re: occasionally, irritating, lest my mom read this and yell at me for causing problems if the kids get in a fight at the table tomorrow night. (It should be a fun and blessed day being with family. I pray for everyone to have the same whether in America or not! And no Beckita or Luc Michel, Pope Francis’ comment about a Bishop flying off to America last Friday were not aimed at me — I didn’t mean that he would laugh at Luc Michel’s comment as if he knew me. More the hair extensions like Sean Penn and the surfer dude thought. )

            Liked by 1 person

          • YongDuk says:

            Thank you, JLB et al!

            Day 3 and soon 4 for Alexander

            Like

  4. prayingflower says:

    “What good is a road if it doesn’t lead to church?” I pray for that simplicity.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. anthonymullendivineantidote says:

    These types of “human wisdom” always seem so very small, even trivial to the point of complete somnolent mouth moving, even when oriented toward the truth. I believe this is because human wisdom, never converts the soul to the Truth of Jesus Christ. Only Divine Wisdom has the power through the Holy Spirit to cause conversion of heart…and Divine Wisdom only proceeds from the Folly of the Cross of Jesus Christ due to the need we have to be saved from our sinful nature and rebellion against God.

    We often forget this is the only purpose of our life: to be saved from our sin. Let us be sure to help all those on “our side” know and proclaim, that there is no human argument, no matter how elegant and philosophical it may seem to our ears, which has the power to save a soul for all eternity. Only Jesus Christ through His Spirit, who is the King of all Kings, has the Divine Power to cause someone to repent and believe in the Gospel and thus save their soul for all eternity. We must help people know they must cooperate and choose this Gift of all gifts by giving them this MILK to read and ponder in prayer. This is true Wisdom and we are blessed to have been given this Gift. Let us truly cherish it and help others accept it by teaching them they have a Mother, who is also the Mother of God, whose mission it is to birth them to accept this Gift of Eternal Life!

    >

    Liked by 8 people

  6. ann says:

    I don’t think I’ve read anything that so lucidly, so surgically and so tragically looks at the death knell of western secular culture as Rod Dreher’s article. The chilling recounting of the novel Submission and the character of Francois freezes my very soul because I can picture it. It reminds of Sartre’s mistress deliberately rejecting her Catholic faith to make a choice for its antithesis. So coldly, so calculatingly throwing away her soul with a kind of dark satisfaction. The only thing that lifts my somber mood, and the sense of encroaching darkness is the absolute conviction that God reigns! T.S. Eliot described this morbid state in The Wasteland. He saw it in the 20’s but then found himself by degrees led back to faith and wrote the wonderful Little Gidding where he ends up by saying that after all our journeys, we end up back where we began (Christianity) but we recognize it for the first time, requiring a state of absolute simplicity. He quotes Blessed Julian of Norwich, “sin is behovely, but all will be well and all will be well and all manner of thing will be well.” On this feast of Christ the King as I look out at a very dark November afternoon I say “Christ lives, Christ reigns, Christ conquers!” and God have mercy on all souls who struggle in this deep chasm. Poor poor France. I simply have n words to express my sorrow.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Contemplative Grandma says:

      My dear, dear friends and family…..What tension we carry in our souls when we become a true lover of Christ! I offer this little bit from Loretta Ross-Gotta. It does well to carry it with you to Adoration that you may carry it in your heart always….

      Is there one willing to pay the cost
      of staying one hour,
      of tasting and knowing God’s suffering in her bones,
      of being bereft of all mortal assistance,
      of contending with a near constant onslaught of Devils, of serving as
      bridge between heaven and earth
      and thereby, bearing in her body, mind, and psyche
      on the one hand, the Immaculate Tenderness
      and the Surging Ferocity
      of Divine Love;
      and on the other hand,
      the immense ocean of mortal sorrow?

      Liked by 7 people

      • Sandy says:

        Oh Grandma, you brought tears to my eyes as I just returned from early morning Adoration and am re-immersed into that bitter ocean. The death of our son, the anger in his father toward God, the addictions of loved ones, the falling of our children to the tugs of society, family members dropping from the Church on left and right. A square peg in a round hole I fear that I am a bridge with many planks loose or missing. But the grace of God can mend it and give it a sturdy railing. Sure I alone cannot.

        Liked by 10 people

        • Beckita says:

          Praying for you and your family, Sandy, and asking Our Mother to wrap you in Her Mantle of Love, Mercy, Intercession and Peace.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Mick says:

          God bless you and your loved ones, Sandy. I will keep you all in my prayers.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Contemplative Grandma says:

          Oh Sandy! You are standing with Our Lady at the foot of many crosses. How dear you are to Our Lord. And what compassion you are giving to His beleaguered heart. Don’t fret about the missing planks……we are poor ….and the Lord delights in our poverty. I am keeping you in my heart in a particular way. Gods Love and Peace to you…

          Liked by 1 person

  7. marie says:

    Charlie, sorry, I’m not really sure where to post this. For anyone who wants to do the 33 day Consecration, Taylor Marshall offers to send the prayers to your inbox every day from now until Christmas. A big help for folks like me. You can sign up on his website. Today is Day 1.
    Blessings and thanks to all you prayer warriors.

    Liked by 7 people

    • jlynnbyrd says:

      I am in Marie, thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

    • zeniazenia says:

      Also TNRS folks may like to pray The Saint Andrew Christmas Novena . It is prayed 15 times every day from the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle (November 30) until Christmas. I have never had enough memory and I forget to pray so many times while I am at work, but people who have seen the resulting miracles for their loved ones tell amazing tales of blessings. I will start with renewed determination again this year.–Jane

      Liked by 5 people

      • jlynnbyrd says:

        Jane, I prayed this novena a couple of years ago and that Christmas was the first time my son visited my husband and I in our new home. It was a blessing too that my daughter and son came together, and we did not have to drive over 100 miles roundtrip (there and back) to get them! I will definitely be praying it again this year. I found an audio/video of the novena to pray along with that will help keep me focused and stay on course. St. Andrew Christmas Novena https://youtu.be/6UMZeJWcQRY
        Wishing you and all our NRS family a happy and safe Thanksgiving and a blessed Advent season!

        Liked by 2 people

    • donna says:

      perfect, just signed up for it

      Like

    • Sandy says:

      I just signed up. I hope they far exceed their goal of 10,000 consecrations to Mary this Advent.

      Liked by 2 people

    • LukeMichael says:

      Yes, me too!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Rara Avis says:

      Marie,
      Thank you for posting this. My husband and I signed up as well. We have never done the Consecration before, and, considering it will be Advent as well, our Christmas season will be more meaningful. –Brenda

      Like

  8. Mona says:

    35 years ago I was a young morher of 3 young daughters. I had an education, was married, we had a house, jobs, and a car. All that we dreamt about.
    I did not feel fulfilled, satisfyed. It had nothing to do whith my husband. I asked my father, is this all that life is about, and he said yes, this is what life is about.
    I have been searching ever since, and happily I ended up whith Chriistianity after a lot of sidewalks. Mother Mary called and whisperd me severeral times, and suddenly I listend and followers her knocing on my door. It feels so right and it give a lot of peace.
    I am a protestant and I am going to teachings about Christianity in my Church. There I am learning about God, the holy spirit and Jesus.

    Liked by 14 people

  9. Judy says:

    I have always intensely disliked the song Imagine by J. Lennon. It describes peace at any price. I was surprised to hear it over the last few days. But, now that I think of it, there are a lot of people who would accept this. I think it represents a NWO dream, not one that I want to be a part of.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. Mack says:

    Dreher’s article and outlook would be devastating if we didn’t have the faith and hope that God is going to rescue us. That doesn’t excuse us from doing our part, certainly, but frankly I find Dreher rather depressing. We all know that left to itself, Western culture and civilization is going down the drain. But I choose to believe what Charlie has said, that we will have the Rescue and things will get better. Yes it will be a rough ride and I don’t know exactly how it will play out. On Good Friday things looked pretty dire too. But God had another plan in mind. May it be so today too!

    Liked by 5 people

  11. Ed Allison says:

    The human condition is to be in search of something greater than ourselves. We all need to find that peace that only Christ can give us. Until we find Him, we are all restlessly wandering, without purpose. It was St. Augustine that said, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” The poor character, Francois, in the novel ‘Submission’, was almost there, and lost it. How sad.
    Rod Dreher’s article reminds me of a debate between Alan Keyes and Alan Dershowitz in Sept 2000. The subject of the debate was, ‘Religion’s role in society’, which is why the article reminded me of it. The entire debate (almost 2 hrs) is available on Youtube, broken up into 15 min segments. During part 2, Mr. Dershowitz misquotes George Washington, saying, “George Washington warned us, never to indulge in the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion.” Alan Keyes response is one of the best speeches I have ever heard. If you have 15 minutes to spare….. I highly recommend it:

    Like

  12. Whitney says:

    It’s similar to when we had the Boston marathons bombing and people turned to the phrase WE are STRONG. All of sudden pictures and posters popped up everywhere with our Red Sox logo and Celtic and Bruins logo saying how strong we were and we could beat this. I was in shock that no one else around me felt this was odd. Nearly every twenty something in the city grew strength in their minds from the solidarity of the champion sports teams we possessed. Btw, I’m an alum of BC 99′ and if I could only go back in time and taken as many courses as possible offered by Mr. Kreft.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Wow! Some deep insights here today. Lots to chew on. Re John Lennon, I actually mentioned in an email to a friend yesterday a stark difference between 9-11 and Paris. After 9-11 people flocked to churches (at least temporarily). After Paris, they are invoking John Lennon and calling for all religion to be abolished. As if that alone will bring peace! What nonsense! When people refuse to turn to God even in tragedy, you know they have sealed their own fate. In fact it is only when people are living in the Will of God that there will be peace.

    But here I am preaching to the choir…

    Liked by 9 people

    • Petra says:

      The response of the secularists reminds me of kids who get irritated at their parents for telling them to put away the computer games and to do their homework and go to bed early, and who *hate* school, and would prefer to just *hang out.* They seem to believe the structures of society and civilization are simply *there,* without any effort on anyone’s part, like kids who think the T.V. and cell phones and computers, the full refrigerator and hot water (you get the idea) are just *there* for their use, never giving a thought to what goes into making sure they are there to use, and who believe the people who call them to the work necessary to sustain the civilization (i.e., prayer, living good values, discipline) are *annoying* and should go away.

      I have never been more astounded at the false assumptions they carry, and lack of insight into the dangers they face. Even as secularists, do they not experience conflict with neighbors or even family or people who have different political beliefs than they do? How in the world can they assume the problem is *religion*? Do they actually believe there society is held in place by being nice? It’s like they are being reeled in like fish on a line by the totalitarians, who at first keep everything nice as they gain power, but over time exert painful control over the smallest of human decisions.

      In my own extended family one of my nieces unfortunately got pregnant with a guy she had no relationship with, but fortunately chose to keep the child (praise God!). However, her attitude is rather cavalier, as if the baby’s and her own needs will be met, no problem. Only what she doesn’t seem to see is all the people she now must rely on to alter their lives and be of more assistance than they should have to be because of her. She doesn’t mind at all the amount she has to take from them. She seems to feel somewhat entitled. This is not to condemn her, only to note she has no realization, in fact, she seems oblivious to what she has done to her parents in terms of the additional childcare and economic demands on them. She does not seem to realize that if her parents were not taking on a huge part of this (they are struggling but they can and do help) she would be in very dire circumstances. And it seems this is this sort of unreality many secular people live with today. They believe their beautiful secular utopian lives would be perfect if only that darned religious element that calls them to responsibility would just disappear.

      It’s astounding to me. Really astounding.

      God bless.

      Liked by 8 people

      • NancyA says:

        Oh my, but you’ve hit on an exposed nerve in me, Petra. I know so well what you are describing, and am bewildered ! (Not newly, but still, after a dozen years!)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Carol says:

        Petra: I too have a couple of nieces/their friends in the same situation, absolutely no concern over the cost of having or raising a child. In my state they get an unbelievable amount of assistance, food, schooling, health care; it is crazy . They are living a better life than my sons who go to work, pay their bills, live within their means and take nothing from anyone; or my brother in law who’s wife has a horrendous disease, he and one of their daughters also has health issues, all who get up every day and go to work, but will unfortunately, more than likely, loss their home due to all their medical bills and have gone through their life savings trying to stay afloat and for some strange reason, I have corresponded with both our senators on their behalf, do not qualify for any assistance what so ever. None of this makes any sense to me. As much as I am a bit scared of what is to come, I also can’t wait for things to become balanced. I agree with you 100%, it is all astounding. God Bless.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Josh in IN says:

      Don’t throw your French brothers and sisters under the bus just yet! Sure, some guy made the news for playing “Imagine” outside the Bataclan and another drew a silly cartoon that was featured in in Dreher’s article, but it seems many people are responding the way Americans did to 9-11: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kateohare/2015/11/isis-terror-in-paris-iii-is-the-eldest-daughter-coming-home/

      Liked by 6 people

  14. LukeMichael says:

    Sit at my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool!

    Christ the King! I believe that is the essence of the Storm!

    What a fantastic article by Peter Kreeft!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andy says:

      How soon will the storm begin to pickup it’s speed??????????? Will it come overnight like some are illustrating from scripture in the comments or will it continue to be a slow progression over the next year? I am not sure what has been shared by Charlie in the past???????????????

      Like

      • zeniazenia says:

        Hi Andy, That sort of knowledge or information would only give us a false idea that we are in control over such things. Now is the time to unlearn that lie that we control the upcoming storm. It would take our eyes off our Lord Jesus. God will help us move through the rescue if we put our trust in Him alone. All He asks of us is that we acknowledge Him to others, stretch out our hand to assist anyone He sends our way and be a sign of hope to the world by living our trust. If you doubt this will be possible for you, pray the Prayer of Abandonment and ask for the gift of trust in the Lord. Know that we have already prayed that prayer for you. Others can surely guide you through the website for more history.–Jane

        Liked by 6 people

      • Beckita says:

        Andy, if you haven’t yet had the opportunity to listen to the Birmingham video, I highly recommend it for an overview of what you are asking. It’s just too excellent and comprehensive to miss. In addition, someone in the TNRS Answering Service, felt so strongly that others who may better retain info via the printed word or who had hearing issues would appreciate seeing the talk with the QandA session in text, spent a chunk of time transcribing it. So you have two options for intake.

        As for the exact answer to your question about the Storm’s intensity picking up, God Alone knows the intricate details as He continues to write straight with all the crooked lines immersed in human free will.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Mick says:

          Beckita, you are awesome. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Beckita says:

            I once asked my spiritual director what to do with a compliment or affirmation. We humans are wired for such oupoured love and we humans are also famous for pride. Dilemma. This spiritual director got right to it when he advised: Say, “Thank you. I’m trying. Please pray for me.” Isn’t that great? So I wish to acknowledge your kindness here, Mick, and ask you to pray for me as I continue to try, as all of us try, to be His Love. Now, please, receive this its intended sincerity: Mick, *you’re* awesome! I appreciate the ways your comments are filled with insight, thoughtful reflection and/or humor.

            Liked by 4 people

          • Mick says:

            Beckita… Thank you. I’m trying. Please pray for me. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • Beckita says:

            Thank you, Steve. You, of all people know how trying I can be, especially given my dys-tech ways. Seriously, thank you for making the transcript readily accessible for all in the way you posted it! I can’t even imagine the amount of time you’ve spent setting up the TNRS Answering Service from an architect standpoint (Pretty good at tech phrasing that one, eh?), then training, maintaining and leading our team… simply amazing you! It’s an honor to serve Charlie and you have played a critical, integral part in making it all possible.

            Liked by 1 person

          • SteveBC says:

            Beckita, yes, indeed, I do know how trying you can be, which is that you are never trying. 🙂

            I appreciate your kind words for me, and I love the word “dys-techie.”

            Liked by 1 person

        • snowowl says:

          Beckita, I really want to thank you for putting up a link to the transcript for this video. For the past few weeks I have wanted to watch the videos after hearing of them here but was unable to do so because I’m on a slow limited satellite plan. Reading it was perfect for me! As Mick says- you are awesome! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Beckita says:

            Thanks, snowowl, and I’m really glad you checked it out. This makes me think I should mention it intermittently as our family here continues to grow.

            Liked by 1 person

          • SteveBC says:

            I totally agree, SnowOwl. Beckita put in a lot of work on that transcript, and a lot of people have already benefitted. More will do so in the weeks and months ahead.

            Thank you, Beckita!

            Liked by 4 people

          • snowowl says:

            Steve, I just found this reply because of the post you added about finding comments in ‘Heading Home’ and couldn’t respond there because there is no reply link under the comments. I am just learning how to use WordPress and don’t want anyone to think I am ignoring their comments- I’m just slow at learning all of this! Anyway, I completely agree about the transcript, I never would have been able to hear this otherwise 🙂

            Like

          • Mick says:

            SteveBC, I second (and third, and fourth) what Beckita said. Thanks for all your hard work on the TNRS team, and especially for putting up with us dys-tech types (I love that term, Beckita; mind if I borrow it?). 🙂

            Liked by 3 people

          • Beckita says:

            Mick, let’s trade in the borrowing. Do you have any of those hair extensions still lying around? 😉

            Like

          • MarieUrsula says:

            Beckita, I took your transcript (very much appreciated) to the next step. I copied, pasted, and formatted it into a 12-page, 2-column Word/PDF document that I can easily email to people. They can then print it out easily if desired.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jlynnbyrd says:

            I love that. Bless you both and all involved for such a fruitful endeavor.

            Like

          • Beckita says:

            Beautiful work, MarieUrsula! What a great NRS to help those in your sphere of influence!

            Like

          • Mick says:

            Sorry, Beckita; I used the hair extensions to make ghoulish Halloween costumes for my kids.

            (Just kidding; we don’t even “do” Halloween. Sounded plausible, though. didn’t it?). 🙂

            Yesterday, by the way, the eastbound winds blew a lovely whatsit from the land of the mountain to that of the Great Lakes. Gratias ago tibi propter bonum tuum. (I probably really butchered that; a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.) 🙂

            Liked by 2 people

          • SteveBC says:

            SnowOwl, you’re welcome, and thank you for going out of your way to get your comment in somewhere! I don’t know if you’ve figured this out, but WordPress only provides 5 levels of Reply. In popular reply threads, people get to that fifth indent level, and the Reply button disappears. To make a reply there, you have to move up the page until you find the 4th-level reply from which all the fifth-level replies spring. You can hit that Reply lin and add your reply to the list of 5th-level replies, but it may or may not end up directly underneath the comment you are replying to. It’s particularly important in this case to make sure that you open your reply comment with the screen name of the person higher up that 5th-level list of comments and maybe quote a bit of the text of that comment (copy-and-paste). When you do that, it gets easier for all the other readers to see which comment you’re actually replying to in that 5th-level list.

            So you see, you could have entered your reply under the “Heading Home” post after all.

            I hope this helps. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  15. Katherine says:

    That was a great article, and it lead me to do a little googling around because I had a thought. It’s a TEENY bit off topic, Charlie, so feel free to exclude this comment. I’ve been reading some economic articles from The Guardian which forecast an economic crash triggered through this mess with Syria and the refugees because it showcases world’s general inability to deal effectively. Now, I know that you can find anybody saying anything on the internet, but the idea put forward was an interesting one. The articles suggested a geopolitical link between this crisis with Islam and our coming inability to sustain the very carefully constructed bubble we’ve built our economies on. Makes sense to me. I know absolutely nothing about economics besides the most basic principles, but the divisions that are popping up in the world and the increasing demonstrations of just how ineffective Europe and the U.S. have been at dealing with the problem in the Middle East seem to me to be the prequel of a collapse . . . since I get the impression that our current economic model relies on heavy cooperation all over the world to keep from falling in on itself. Also, I would imagine that if there was to be any sort of brake on a collapse it would come from an ability to see clearly and act quickly, virtues which are lacking in government constructs around the world, which WE can now see clearly because of the refugee crisis and the rise of ISIS. Wow, you were right Charlie, this has been a year where the layers of our self deceit and corruption have been peeled away, one by one, and brought to the light for examination by all. This crisis with Islam right now is no different, and while I really DON’T know what the trigger for an epic economic collapse would be, it would almost seem like poetic justice for it to have its trigger somewhere in this crisis. Now, please note, I am in no way an expert here and I don’t even have a lot of time to do much research . . . my kids and my exhaustion levels by the end of the day see to that . . . but I thought there was something to this idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • SteveBC says:

      Katherine, I’m sorry to hear you’re so exhausted. You write such wonderful comments.

      Stratfor.com has pointed out that the closing of the borders throughout the Balkans is holding up many refugees and migrants. The pipeline through Greece to Germany has begun to back up. This has the potential to slowly destabilize that entire region, including Greece which is already on the edge. The Balkan countries don’t have much in the way of resources, either. I view the area as at the edge of serious instability. It may not take much to send it over the edge. I guess this is a case of “These things must come.”

      Your comment is quite insightful.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. snowowl says:

    Charlie, concerning the audacity of the German Bishops article, quite a while back I tried blogging for the first time and I was on one of the so-called ‘catholic sites’ defending Pope Francis from a vicious commentor who then turned his viciousness on to me for being so stupid and gullible to defend such a heretic and anti-Christ Pope (he was traumatized by Pope Francis allowing the German Bishops to speak and I knew all about the German Bishops and what they were doing in Germany and all about the Germans having to pay a tax or they can not receive the Sacraments… how they were hurting the Church in so many ways.) I stated that it was possible Pope Francis was very wise, remaining quiet and allowing the German Bishops to speak freely and meanwhile assessing where everyone stood and how he would deal with this in the very near future at the Synod. He and many others attacked me so viciously (website allowed this)-suddenly accusing me of slandering the Pope etc. etc.- and made so many terrible accusations that I left the blogging world and deleted the account I had- it was far too confusing and hurtful for me and pointless to argue with people like this…and so many of them. I thank God you do not allow this here!
    Months later, I decided to come back to commenting ONLY when I found your Blog! I was so happy to read this article, thank you for posting it :)!!
    “The kingdom of Hell will NOT prevail!” Amen!

    Liked by 3 people

    • charliej373 says:

      Thank you, Snow. We are doing something special here. I hope it becomes common.

      Liked by 5 people

      • snowowl says:

        Charlie, this really is special~ to say the least! I just read the transcript to your video and it left me so unbelievably comforted, you have no idea. I also watched for just a few minutes because I’ve never seen you talk. After reading this, I feel freedom from fears and insecurities, healing and a very true realness…I don’t even know what to say. You are simply you and that’s what is the very best about you. It is how Christ wants all of us to be. I wish I knew how to express what I want to say. Seems the closer we come to Jesus the more human we become. God knows! God bless you.
        JeanE.

        Liked by 2 people

  17. luvmercy5775 says:

    I received the following in an e-mail this morning. The names listed as endorsing this position are some of the most respected Orthodox rabbis in the world today.

    Truly this is an historic declaration. To think we would live to see the day! Rome and Jerusalem have come full circle. I believe we’re witnessing the fulfillment of the following verses — especially Isaiah 11:13.

    American Standard Version Is. 11:13
    The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and they that vex Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.

    Ezekiel 37:16
    Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:

    Ezekiel 37:17
    And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.
    ————————————————————
    TO DO THE WILL OF OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN
    Toward the Realization of a Partnership between Judaism and Christianity

    After nearly two millennia of mutual hostility and alienation, we Orthodox rabbis believe it is time to recognize this historic opportunity to do the will of our Father in Heaven (la’asot ratzon Avinu she-ba-shamayim) by accepting the hand offered to us by our Christian brothers and sisters. We must work together as partners to address the moral challenges of our times.

    1. The Shoah ended 70 years ago. It was the warped climax to centuries of disrespect, oppression and rejection of Jews and the consequent enmity that developed between Jews and Christians. In retrospect we see that the failure to break through this contempt and engage in constructive dialogue for the good of humankind weakened resistance to evil forces of anti-Semitism that engulfed the world in murder and genocide.

    2. We recognize that since the Second Vatican Council the official teachings of the Catholic Church about Judaism have changed fundamentally and irrevocably. The promulgation of Nostra Aetate fifty years ago started the process of reconciliation between our two communities. Nostra Aetate and the later official Church documents it inspired unequivocally reject any form of anti-Semitism, affirm the eternal Covenant between G-d and the Jewish people, reject deicide and stress the unique relationship between Christians and Jews, who were called “our elder brothers” by Pope John Paul II and “our fathers in faith” by Pope Benedict XVI. On this basis, Catholics and other Christian officials started an honest dialogue with Jews that has grown during the last five decades. We appreciate the Church’s affirmation of Israel’s unique place in sacred history and the ultimate world redemption. Today Jews have experienced sincere love and respect from many Christians that have been expressed in many dialogue initiatives, meetings and conferences around the world.

    3. We acknowledge that Christianity is neither an accident nor an error, but the willed divine outcome and gift to the nations. In separating Judaism and Christianity, G-d willed a separation between partners with significant theological differences, not a separation between enemies. Rabbi Jacob Emden wrote that “Jesus brought a double goodness to the world. On the one hand he strengthened the Torah of Moses majestically… and not one of our Sages spoke out more emphatically concerning the immutability of the Torah. On the other hand he removed idols from the nations and obligated them in the seven commandments of Noah so that they would not behave like animals of the field, and instilled them firmly with moral traits…..Christians are congregations that work for the sake of heaven who are destined to endure, whose intent is for the sake of heaven and whose reward will not denied.”[1] Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch taught us that Christians “have accepted the Jewish Bible of the Old Testament as a book of Divine revelation. They profess their belief in the G-d of Heaven and Earth as proclaimed in the Bible and they acknowledge the sovereignty of Divine Providence.”[2] Now that the Catholic Church has acknowledged the eternal Covenant between G-d and Israel, we Jews can acknowledge the ongoing constructive validity of Christianity as our partner in world redemption, without any fear that this will be exploited for missionary purposes. As the Bilateral Commission of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate and its chairman, Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen stated, “We are no longer enemies, but unequivocal partners in articulating the essential moral values for the survival and welfare of humanity”.[3] Neither of us can achieve G-d’s mission in this world alone.

    4. Both Jews and Christians have a common covenantal mission to perfect the world under the sovereignty of the Almighty, so that all humanity will call on His name and abominations will be removed from the earth. We understand the hesitation of both sides to affirm this truth and we call on our communities to overcome these fears in order to establish a relationship of trust and respect. Rabbi Hirsch also taught that the Talmud puts Christians “with regard to the duties between man and man on exactly the same level as Jews. They have a claim to the benefit of all the duties not only of justice but also of active human brotherly love.” In the past relations between Christians and Jews were often seen through the adversarial relationship of Esau and Jacob, yet Rabbi Naftali Zvi Berliner (Netziv) already understood at the end of the 19th century that Jews and Christians are destined by G-d to be loving partners: “In the future when the children of Esau are moved by pure spirit to recognize the people of Israel and their virtues, then we will also be moved to recognize that Esau is our brother.”[4]

    5. We Jews and Christians have much more in common than what divides us: the ethical monotheism of Abraham; the relationship with the One Creator of Heaven and Earth, Who loves and cares for all of us; Jewish Sacred Scriptures; a belief in a binding tradition; and the values of life, family, compassionate righteousness, justice, inalienable freedom, universal love and ultimate world peace. Rabbi Moses Rivkis (Be’er Hagoleh) confirms this and wrote that “the Sages made reference only to the idolator of their day who did not believe in the creation of the world, the Exodus, G-d’s miraculous deeds and the divinely given law. In contrast, the people among whom we are scattered believe in all these essentials of religion.”[5]

    6. Our partnership in no way minimizes the ongoing differences between the two communities and two religions. We believe that G-d uses many messengers to reveal His truth, while we affirm the fundamental ethical obligations that all people have before God, which Judaism has always taught through the universal Noahide covenant.

    7. Like G-d, Jews and Christians must offer models of service, unconditional love and holiness. We are all created in the Image of G-d, and Jews and Christians will remain dedicated to the Covenant by playing an active role together in redeeming the world.

    Initial signatories (in alphabetical order):

    Rabbi Jehoshua Ahrens (Germany)

    Rabbi Marc Angel (United States)

    Rabbi Isak Asiel (Chief Rabbi of Serbia)

    Rabbi David Bigman (Israel)

    Rabbi David Bollag (Switzerland)

    Rabbi Kotel Dadon, Chief (Rabbi of Croatia)

    Rabbi Natan Lopez Cardozo (Israel)

    Rabbi Irving Greenberg (United States)

    Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein (Israel)

    Rabbi Eugene Korn (Israel)
    Rabbi Simon Livson (Chief Rabbi of Finland)

    Rabbi Shlomo Riskin (Israel)

    Rabbi David Rosen (Israel)
    Rabbi Naftali Rothenberg (Israel)

    Rabbi Shmuel Sirat (France)

    Rabbi Daniel Sperber (Israel)

    Rabbi Alan J. Yuter (Israel)

    ——————————————————————————–

    [1] Seder Olam Rabbah; Sefer ha-Shimush

    [2] Commentary on Ethics of the Fathers 4:13.

    [3] Fourth meeting of the Bilateral Commission of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with Jewry, Grottaferrata, Italy (19 October 2004).

    [4] Commentary on Genesis 33:4.

    [5] Gloss on Shulhan Arukh, Hoshen Mishpat, Section 425:5.

    Liked by 8 people

    • jlynnbyrd says:

      This warms my heart. I grew up in a heavily Jewish populated neighborhood in Chicago. My public school teachers and classmates were majority Jewish. Having befriended many, I once attended a Shabbat dinner with a friend’s family. I was required to wear a skirt and had to borrow one from her in order just to eat. Although I did not understand their Hebrew prayers, I was in awe on the tradition of prayer, lit candles, generations of family gathered at one table and literally breaking bread. We lived amongst many synagogues and every Saturday, Jewish men, woman, and children could be immediately identified by their garb, and customs. On Sunday’s for at least the first few years of my life, we too wore our Sunday best. That did not last for some reason(s).
      As a young adult, I worked for a Jewish doctor. His wife (who worked part-time) and I would frequently get into philosophical discussions. At the time, history was just something I needed to pass in order to graduate HS years earlier. I had zero interest in it. She chronicled the survival of “her people” throughout the ages, placing emphasis on how important it was to keep the faith and stories alive from one generation to the next in order to survive as a faith, “God’s chosen ones.” I had a great respect for their love of God and family. Sadness filled my heart for their struggles as a people so as not to go extinct.
      Now here we are, and my knowledge of the parallels in our Catholic faith are uncanny. I am grateful that my mind and heart were opened up eventually to the wisdom of historical events. Although I know full well how the powers of darkness is corrupting practitioners of both faiths, I pray that we as Catholics will abundantly return to our Sunday best, breaking bread, and valuing deep religious ceremonies, prayer, family life, and deeds, especially here in the United States, so that we may share the gift of God’s love with generations to come more conscientiously.

      Liked by 8 people

    • Beckita says:

      Love it, luvmercy! Is there a link to this document, please?

      Like

      • luvmercy5775 says:

        Beckita, It was sent to me by one of the rabbis who signed the document. He’s a friend of many years and we’ve spent much time uncovering the mysteries of God’s ways in keeping our faith communities separate unto this day. He knows more about Catholicism than I do. I don’t know where or if the document has yet been published. but I did post it with permission.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Mick says:

          That is really amazing, Luvmercy. I am so happy to see the love and collaboration that are starting to happen (and have been happening) between Christians and Jews. I have a friend who is Jewish, and she and I have had some wonderful discussions about the similarities and differences between our faiths. I’ve attended her synagogue on a few occasions; she even invited us to her son’s bar mitzvah, which was an incredible experience for my whole family.

          Liked by 3 people

        • Beckita says:

          Ah! Thank for sharing this, luvmercy. Is it possible to as your friend, the rabbi, if it might be posted somewhere for public access? How blessed you two are for the conversations you’ve had! Thanks again for sharing this monumental news. Here is yet another gift to recount as a blessing this Thanksgiving!

          Like

    • anna819 says:

      This is an awesome example of how God is uniting his children. I pray that this historic declaration by these renowned Rabbis reaches the ears of those who need to hear. And may the prayer of Jesus come to fulfillment ——- “And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, as we also are one:”

      Liked by 2 people

    • SteveBC says:

      It does indeed seem like a big deal. This at a time that I recently heard that a few hundred thousand Jews had chosen to accept Jesus as their Messiah. Big things going on.

      Liked by 2 people

      • luvmercy5775 says:

        It is a big deal Steve. Reading it literally had me in tears. The document represents a huge “sign” regarding the times we’re living in. Paraphrasing Romans 11, “Blindness in part has come upon Israel until the full number of Gentiles come in…They are enemies of the Gospel for your sake. But they are beloved for the sake of the fathers… gives us much to ponder.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Mick says:

      Thanks be to God! This is beautiful, Luvmercy. Thanks for sharing it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Doug says:

      Beautiful!

      Like

    • JeanT says:

      Good news, the Vatican has released this article on their website. Earlier luvmercy said she received from a priest friend before it was published, and wasn’t able to source the article. This article gave me so much hope. I am sharing the link here.

      http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2015/12/10/orthodox_rabbis_issue_groundbreaking_statement_on_christians/1193458

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Diane says:

    The Beginning of Wisdom and Kreeft’s writing have been like a knife in my heart – May our Lord have Mercy on us all. We have squandered our lives. Some have been thrown overboard and are frantic in there efforts to return to the Barque of Peter. Mark Mallet has a similar post. Several years ago I perceived a thick blanket of darkness being rolled back by angels. May the light of Christ shine brightly as this blanket is rolled back. May we be able to nurture the lost and confounded, may we be that Light that God’s intends for us to be. Our efforts will be feeble if not strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit. Oh how our hearts ache for our children and the years to come if we do not get this right. I read this as a prayer somewhere recently – For a small teardrop from the eye can cause an entire evil platoon of the Tempter’s army to shrink away, We need to be flooding our prayers with tears. Enough is enough. The evil satan has been defeated, may we be bold and courageous in our faith. God is Sovereign, God is the only hope mankind has and yet that hope has been tossed aside for bangles and trinkets. Oh my dear Friends on this site, I wish my heart was not so broken, I wish I was that bold and courageous faithful one, but I am weak and I am strong only by the God’s Grace. Prayers for all of us to be who God created us to be. Trust, Do Love. Love. I do.

    Liked by 7 people

  19. Beckita says:

    “… we don’t need more religion!… Paris is about Life”
    “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you…” (John 6:53)

    It seems regional events alone are not enough to turn all our hearts to the Lord. We need the worldwide action of the Storm. As but one of the many praying for years for massive conversion and a mitigation which would avoid massively devastating purification, somewhere in those years, I was eased into praying for mitigation with the qualifier: in as much as people respond to the effusion of purifying grace. May it be.

    Liked by 5 people

  20. marlonancy says:

    Here is the St. Michael prayer stated in Peter Kreefts article above, posted by Julie
    Inviting everyone to pray it after communion or mass.

    Saint Michael the Archangel,
    defend us in battle.
    Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
    May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
    and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host,
    by the Divine Power of God,
    cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
    who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

    Liked by 3 people

    • marcyc48 says:

      At my parish after Father and the altarboys process out, the altarboys wind their way back to the altar and kneel down. One of them leads us in prayer for the Pope’s intentions for the month. He then closes with the prayer to St. Michael.
      I drive my grandkids to school (a charter school, as Catholic grade school tuition here is as much as college) We pray for various things but our very last prayer is always the prayer to St. Michael. They know know that the satan is prowling about seeking thr ruin of souls and we need all the help we can get !

      Liked by 4 people

    • El ingeniero de Tepeyac says:

      En español

      San Miguel Arcángel,
      defiéndenos en la batalla.
      Sé nuestro amparo contra las perversidad y asechanzas del demonio.
      Reprímale Dios, pedimos suplicantes,
      y tu príncipe de la milicia celestial arroja al infierno
      con el divino poder
      a Satanás y a los otros espíritus malignos
      que andan dispersos por el mundo
      para la perdición de las almas.
      Amén.

      Liked by 3 people

  21. Joyce Brown says:

    Wow. I read this post and the comments last night, and the Rod Dreher piece affected me deeply. This morning whilst surfing the net, I came across a performance by Celine Dion at the American Music Awards, and how “there wasn’t a dry eye in the house” when she finished. She sang a song called Hymne A l’Amour while scenes of Paris flashed in the background. So I looked up the lyrics in english and it blew me away:

    The blue sky over us can collapse on itself
    and the ground can (really) cave in.
    Little matters to me if you love me
    I couldn’t care less about the whole world
    As long as love will flood my mornings
    As long as my body will tremble under your hands
    The problems make little difference to me
    My love, because you love me.

    I will go to the end of the world
    I will dye my hair blond
    If you ask me to
    I will go take down the moon
    I will steal fortune
    if you ask me to.

    I will renounce my country
    I will renounce my friends
    if you ask me to.
    One could really laugh at me
    I will do anything
    if you ask me to.

    if one day life tears you away from me
    if you die than you will be far from me
    what’s it matter if you love me
    because I will die too.
    We will have for us, eternity
    in the blue of all the immensity
    in heaven, no more problems
    my love do you believe that we love each other
    God, reunite those who love each other.

    Reading the lyrics several things struck me. The song places the zenith of human experience in human love, specifically human sexual love. The singer declares that they will do anything, anything-theft, renounce friends even country if the lover asks them to do so. The last stanza talks about eternity and heaven. And then at the very, very end, the very last line the singer invokes GOD to reunite those who love each other.

    It just struck me as a distillation of modern western culture and the pathetic condition it’s in. And this performance of the song as a “tribute” to the victims of the attacks in Paris. Human sexual love is ALL and the only recourse to God is if the lovers become separated. It is just so empty and sad.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Donette says:

    I used to watch Allan Keyes on his regular TV program. I thought him a brilliant and articulate man and had hoped that if ever a black man was to be President of the United States, he should have been the one. How is it possibly that he was so overlooked and overshadowed by the pitiful example of the present occupier of the White House?

    Like

    • Petra says:

      I like Alan Keyes too (from what I know of him.) He’s overlooked and overshadowed because he is a Republican and not a RINO (Republican In Name Only). And he is a Catholic, and not a CINO (Catholic In Name Only) either. His type is not wanted in any political party anymore.

      He has a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell and a PhD from Harvard. He has worked as a diplomat and ambassador under Reagan. He ran as a Republican in Illinois against Obama and lost, mostly because he had never lived in Illinois and it did seem like carpetbagging. Of course, in blue state Chicago (the rest of Illinois is red, but Chicago trumps the rest of the state every time) Obama couldn’t lose, so there you go.

      It was a pity, but what can you do. I wish he would get elected to the Senate though, or be brought in as Chief of Staff in some administration, because I think he’s the kind of person we need running this country.
      God bless.

      Like

  23. Mary says:

    Charlie that thing about the Imagine song made me angry too, and I commented on my sis-in-law’s fb post about it and that started a heated discussion.(she and my brother are atheists with a buddhist bent). Now I regret saying anything at all. It didn’t help her understand.

    Like

  24. Vijaya says:

    I came across Dreher’s article and it was sobering. The examples from the books are great and I loved that line about what good is a road if it doesn’t lead to church. Thank you for reprinting this here. A couple of months back Fr. Folsom came to our parish to speak precisely of the Benedict Option. In a way, it’s already happening with vibrant little pockets of Christian areas. I summarized his talk on my blog: http://vijayabodach.blogspot.com/2015/10/blood-moon-beer-and-benedict-option.html

    Liked by 2 people

  25. From the attack itself in Paris to the ironic playing of that pitiful song “Imagine” at the site of the worst slaughter, to everything continuing to unravel so quickly … I am reminded of how France figures prominently in various approved Catholic prophecies. Here are a few examples. Sister Jeanne Royer made the following prediction in the 18th century: “The storm began in France, and France shall be the first theater of its ravages after having been its cradle…” This can’t be a reference to the French Revolution, since that had already happened. There is also Blessed Anna Maria Taigi: “France will fall into frightful anarchy.”

    And 18th Century, Fr. Nectou, S.J. “….England in her turn will experience a more frightful revolution than that of France … It will continue long enough for France to recover her strength; then she will help England to restore peace and order … two parties will be formed in France which will fight unto death. The party of evil will at first be stronger and the good side will be weaker. At that time there will be such a terrible crisis that people will believe that the end of the world has come. Blood will flow in many large cities. The very elements will be confused. It will be like a little general judgement … the frightful crisis will be of short duration. When all is considered lost, all will be found safe.”

    And The Ecstatic of Tours: “…Revolution will break out in Italy almost at the same time as in France… the revolution will spread to every French town. Wholesale slaughter will take place. This revolution will last only a few months but will be frightful … In those days France will receive no human assistance. She will be alone and helpless” (this suggests to me that something is coming soon that will cripple the United States so that we will not be able to assist).

    And Bernhardt Rembordt (18th Century): “… At that time France will be divided …”

    And finally, not that this next one mentions France, but I feel drawn to include it: Pope Pius IX: There will be a great prodigy which will fill the world with awe. But this prodigy will be preceded by the triumph of a revolution during which the Church will go through ordeals that are beyond description.”

    Are we living to see these prophecies fulfilled? How it can be anything else, especially in light of what Charlie has told us concerning the Rescue in late 2017, now just two short years away? Any student of history knows how much can happen in two years, which is usually much more than anyone anticipates. And some of these approved prophecies make the specific point that the coming crisis will be sudden, terrible, worldwide and unprecedented … but of short duration – ending with a great triumph of the Church through the intercession of Immaculate Mary!

    I’ll close this long comment with one more quote from Sr. Jeanne le Royer (Sister of the Nativity) 18th Century. “The knowledge of these things shall contribute to the salvation of many souls,
    and form a treasure for the faithful of the last age of the world.”

    May God have Mercy on us all by giving the Grace to discern the truth – so that we make take “the next right step” at every moment.

    Liked by 4 people

  26. aaronpfoutz says:

    Charlie, off topic but very important. Has anyone seen the National Geographic article on “How the Virgin Mary Became the World’s Most Powerful Woman.” National Geographic? http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2015/12/virgin-mary-text Very interesting read.

    Like

    • It is a great article –considering the source not always Christian-friendly– the map of apparitions (sightings, they say, like in Elvis’) only seems to list the ones that got some publicity. I know one that is not listed there: On May 31, 1957 (winter in the southern hemisphere) at sunset an image of Our Lady was visible for several hours on the side of the mountains west of my hometown, Esquel. This was referred to me by my mother who was absolutely sure of the date because my sister (Maria, of course!) was born later that same day. I am sure many others know of some brief apparition of Our Blessed Mother in different parts. Another one I know happened in rural Texas where a “Lady from Heaven” appeared to the supervisor of lumber operations Lubbock (if I remember correctly) resulting in the conversion of the whole crew. Our Lady is busy saving souls and we should follow her example!

      Liked by 2 people

  27. SanSan says:

    Charlie, or others, I need help with this edict of Our Father:

    “Know that you will be held to account for every soul that you could have given effective witness to but did not because of anger, resentment or fear. Know also that you will be held to account for every servant of the evil one that you did not defend my people against out of a false sense of compassion or indulgence. I know this is impossible to you. You are well told to acknowledge Me in all things, then take the next right step and be a sign of hope to those around you. If you do that, I will draw fruit even from your errors and you may walk in humble confidence of my mercy.”

    In the first sentence, “effective witness”…….I graple with this…….is this a physical action like corporal works of mercy or can it be just spirtual works of mercy? Or is it both? Example: I help a homeless person by……..providing them shelter or bringing them to a shelter? Another Example: everyday I say that I am going to say my prayers or I’m on my way to Mass………or……..asking them if they’d like to go to Mass or say prayers?

    I’m not Mother Teresa, I wish I was, but I’m not. I do much…..can I do more? Yes. Do I want to? No…….because of fear.

    What is effective witness? Exactly?

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Effective witness is witness that actually builds others up rather than hurts them or drives them away. Many imagine they have given witness if they denounce someone. Sometimes they have – but if they could have ignited a little hope in them, they have not given effective witness. Often what is called giving witness is merely smug preening. There will be a hard accounting for that. Don’t worry so much about precise instructions. If you do the best you can out of loving – caring for others and not merely trying to pat yourself on the back – you will be fine, even if you make mistakes on the way. God is not looking for a reason to stomp you…He looks for reasons to embrace you.

      Liked by 7 people

      • Petra says:

        Regarding effective witness: just today I was talking to one of my brothers who has fallen away, about his daughter that will be going to college next fall. (His kids were baptized but were never catechized. I don’t know if they even know the Our Father or Hail Mary.) I was asking what his daughter thinks she might major in, and what schools she applied to. Then I said, “You know, I don’t pray for your kids as much as I should. I’m going to pray that God will lead them to the paths that will be most suited for them, and that will bring about the greatest fulfillment of what He wants for them.”

        My brother stammered out a “thank-you” and “okay” as if to say, “yes, please pray for my kids in that way. That is what I want for them too.” (He is going through some rough times, and told me a few weeks ago, when I said I would pray for him, that he’s praying for him too. 🙂 )

        When talking with those who are not close to God, I try to be friendly and nice, and positive, letting them know I have their good in mind and hope for a bright and happy future for them. I know God will give the greatest graces to help them. I always remember, *the crushed reed He does not break, the smoldering wick He does not extinguish.* Hope. Always hope. You never know and don’t always see how God may be softening someone’s heart. Lift the reed up and bind the broken part. Fan the flame. 🙂

        God bless.

        Liked by 12 people

      • SanSan says:

        I just feel like I always fall short. After I leave different situations I hear a voice say “why didn’t you do that? Why didn’t you say that?”. I worry about souls that hear nonsense at Mass or from the world……I want to stand up and correct, so they don’t leave not hearing the Truth. I hear and see error of God’s Truth all around me and I want to be an effective witness……I just don’t know what or how to do that. I want to be perfect for Him because it hurts when I see and hear the outrages against Him and His Church.

        Thank you Charlie for: “If you do the best you can out of loving – careing for others”–I do try to do my best –but that’s the rub…..I always feel that I should do MORE and I didn’t.

        Liked by 1 person

        • charliej373 says:

          People often feel that…including me. But then you may do too much and spoil God’s recipe for our Rescue. What is right in front of you.

          Liked by 7 people

        • Beckita says:

          The very desire to do more is a prayer, SanSan. Praying for discernment for you, for me and for all here that we may remember to internally ask in the moment of doing and then proceed as Holy Spirit inspires while giving the results to God.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Petra says:

          SanSan: Those thoughts of frustration may not be from God. That thought perhaps discourages you, and makes you think you are failing. That may be from the enemy.

          God already knows how little you are, how hapless you are (aren’t we all! 🙂 ), how you fumble even easy tasks (all of us do!). We are like toddlers trying to carry a full bucket of water, stumbling and spilling it all the way. The loving Father sees your efforts. He sees you like we see the little child who brings in dandelions for mommy: it is not the flower that warms the heart, but the love by which it is picked and given.

          You don’t have to be God. You and I are not God. We can really do nothing about the nonsense people are hearing at Mass or from the world. And the hurt you feel when you witness the outrages against God and our Church tell Him how much you love Him.

          Here is the key: all you can do is pray and convert yourself more and more. All you can do is bring to Him your littleness, your sense of helplessness, your sense of being overwhelmed, and show Him, in tears, how you can’t do it, how you messed up again in spite of wanting to do something good. Like little ZuZu in A Wonderful Life (the movie) who asks her daddy to paste the flower petals back on the rose, when you give it to Him, He takes the task and fixes fixes the problem. If you do approach Him like this, He will take over, and you will say and do things that DO effect His will – not by your own power, but by His. And you will rejoice.

          And that is what He wants. HE CAN DO ALL THINGS, including correct the nonsense people hear, or have them hear something else. Don’t listen to the voices that chide you for your littleness and helplessness. Turn to Him in that littleness and speak to Him as a toddler would to her Daddy. You will melt His Heart.
          God bless.

          Liked by 6 people

  28. narnialion54 says:

    Thank you, Charlie, for providing such great spiritual food for thought. I was fascinated by Rod Dreher’s article (had to read it twice, slowly) and ordered the novel, Laurus, on Kindle. What a feast!
    On Spirit Daily, an article about the orthodox Catholics rising in France…such hope! The comments from the French Catholics are very good too.

    http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/4385/frances_catholic_revolution.aspx

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Mack says:

    After reading this I happened to see this article from Catholic World Report about the Catholic revival in France. It’s true there are still many problems, but a small but growing resurgence of Catholic life is happening there. This is a great sign of hope, and after the Rescue it will be even greater:
    http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/4385/frances_catholic_revolution.aspx

    Like

  30. Kathleen Vacheresse says:

    Please pray for our grandson Nicholas He is 82nd Airborne. Army Ranger he was home for Thanksgiving but is on his way back today I am at the air port now

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Today I was having a conversation about the general elections here in BA and something was said (I’ll spare you the long story) that later led me to a sort of epiphany. Lots of people are calculating and trying to figure out all kinds of things that have to happen before God intervenes drastically in the affairs of mankind. One can hear things like “the Antichrist still has to reign for seven years” or similar statements. Just to address that random expression I just quoted: how do you know what or who is the Antichrist for this age? How do you know you are not already governed by him? Most of those statements are similar to the things Jesus had to put up, things in the style of “When Messiah comes no one will know where he comes from but you are from Galilee, we know your father and your brothers!” SEE THE SCENE: a bunch of idiots are arguing with the Messiah about why he cannot be the Messiah. There are many other examples. So, if one day you are working out in the field driving your John Deere and suddenly the sky is on fire, don’t try to argue with God, get on your knees and pray. Perhaps we should all get on our knees and pray because we REALLY don’t know anything at all.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Petra says:

      I hear ya’ brother!
      God bless you, Carlos.

      Liked by 2 people

    • zeniazenia says:

      CCC tells us the antichrist for this age is ubiquitous…
      675 ‘Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. 574 The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth 575 will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh. 576 (769)
      676 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatalogical judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, 577 especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism.’ 578 (2425)

      Liked by 4 people

    • In my comment I did not mean to dismiss the prophetic. What I propose — not knowing if it is correct or not — is the possibility that certain prophecies are being fulfilled right under our noses by divine design. For example, a good friend told me the other day that he did not think this time, was more or less dramatic than any other difficult time humanity experienced in the past. The Turks taking Constantinople, masses of French soldiers starving to death in the Russian steppes, the massacre of Nanking, the fall of Berlin, Iwo Jima, Hiroshima … the catalog of horrors of apocalyptic proportions is quite thick in any age.

      What I am saying is that all those awful things are by their very nature apocalyptic and grow through history in a diabolic crescendo until they become so common that we get used to them.

      Sometimes I go and sit by a fountain in one of Buenos Aires parks and look at my surroundings. Not long ago, may be 40 or 50 years ago when I was a young lad, one could seat there enjoying the trees and birds. Traffic was a distant hum, well dressed people hurried to their various destinations, mothers would keep an eye on a group of children playing… it was pleasant all around.

      Today one can hardly find a bench where some hobo is not sleeping, the smell of urine is strong enough to clear our nostrils, disheveled youths – tattooed all over like some mad aborigine of a recently discovered tribe- walk by like zombies, the level of traffic noise invades one’s thoughts, quarrels erupt over the flimsiest little thing… No, no dear friends. This is not an age like any other, this is a terrible age. It is not a local phenomenon: BA, LA, Sao Paulo, Rio, New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, Paris, all of them have their own peculiar daily show of horrors. Can’t catch it in Peoria? No problem, it will be sent to you via television, cinema, books, Internet, I-phone until you vomit… this is a thick, venomous gas invading everything everywhere. If one is comfortable in or even indifferent to this nauseating environment it is because one has already succumbed to it. We are up to our eyeballs in the Apocalypse. It is not coming, it has arrived.

      Liked by 7 people

      • Mick says:

        Carlos, it’s in Peoria, too. (I have relatives there and have visited many times.) As you said, it’s everywhere; and the Apocalypse has indeed arrived. God help us all.

        Like

        • There is an American expression, actually in vaudeville and theater “It will do well in Peoria” meaning that a play will do well nationwide. Yes, Peoria and even in rural Virginia where I last resided in the US. No one is exempt from the plague!

          Liked by 2 people

          • Mick says:

            Ha, Carlos! I’d never heard that expression before. It’s hilarious, and it makes perfect sense. I guess it would be like saying, “It will do well in Timbucktu” or “It will do well in Poughkeepsie.”

            Liked by 1 person

    • Mick says:

      Amen, Carlos!

      How are you hanging in there down in BA?

      Liked by 1 person

      • So far so good. But there is a lot of tension and the losing party is making threats. “We won’t let you sleep” they say. Those were the groups behind attacks to the BA and La Plata cathedrals. For the looks of it, there will be evil. Let us pray for safety for all believers.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Things may explode here because apparently our current President is reluctant to leave. Thank you all for your prayers. I keep busy writing this “novena” of articles on the theme of the Immaculate Conception. So far 5 articles done.
        Filled with light and grace
        The silent Gospel of Mary
        Salvation comes from Heaven
        A visit to remember
        Tidings of great joy

        https://casorosendi.wordpress.com/

        Like

        • Doug says:

          Carlos, my prayers are with you.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Our “progressive” leader is now trying to change the order of the ceremonies, forcing the new president to take the oath of office at an hour and place of her convenience “because she has to catch a plane back home” Imagine Jimmy Carter telling Ronald Reagan that the new President has to take the oath of office at the Lincoln Memorial because it is closer to the airport. Those are the mental midgets my Argentine compatriots have kept in power for 12 years. Not one person, not one minister has advised her to simply respect the law. I do not know what the “surprise” is but this nutcase is not going to go without a few bullets flying. In Venezuela, their President is doing the same. I think they are trying to make the US President look good by comparison. I hope no one gets killed. Let us pray for peace, in Argentina and Venezuela, and also in the US.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jlynnbyrd says:

            I will keep all in my prayers. God Bless Argentina and Venezuela.

            Liked by 2 people

          • SteveBC says:

            Indeed, Carlos, a PMT for you and your country. We cannot reduce the irreducible, but perhaps we can mitigate some of the other pieces of this situation. Stay safe.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Beckita says:

            Amen, Carlos. Joining you in prayer for peace in Argentina, Venezuela and the U.S.

            Liked by 2 people

  32. LukeMichael says:

    Aves for you Carlitos!

    Liked by 1 person

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