(I have several things going on over the next few days. I will head back to the cabin, where I will seriously work on preparing for the challenges of the coming year. I will attend the dedication of a Chapel to Our Lady of Tepeyac, also. It is at the cabin last year that I developed my plan of visits throughout the country this year. As I have told you, the key theme of the coming year is living as the “Family of God.” Last year, while not saying it publicly (though I spoke with my closest advisors on it frequently) the things that most worried me was the sense of despair and isolation that would rise in many Christians over the course of the year – and the coming rise of the “anti-pope apostasy.” In fact, my conversations on that subject with theologian Peter Bannister played a role in inspiring his marvelous book, “No False Prophet…” which crushes the arguments of the anti-pope apostates.
This year, many – maybe most – of you have been tried by fire. For those of you who continue to endure, despite the trials, you are more ready than you know to be a sign of hope. This year, most of the secularists are going to enter into a deep despair as all their cherished illusions come crashing in. That is a great opportunity, for most will be looking for some ray of light, some reason to hope, some safe repository for their hopes. Those who have already come through fire are best able to credibly bear the light of Christ to the broken. That is how the Family of God is called to live and behave.
Right now, our friends in Dallas are reeling from devastating tornadoes on Christmas Day. I fell in love with the Dallas-Arlington-Ft. Worth area during my visit last year. They have so many people of vibrant faith reaching out to each other. My heart goes out to them. Yet I know they will endure and become greater signs of hope to each other and to all who suffer. Please join me in prayers for the good people of Dallas.
Right now, as I contemplate how to begin the New Year, I reprint the piece with which I began the year now ending.-CJ)
By Charlie Johnston
I meant everything I wrote in my last post about the Consecration of Russia. I believe it is accomplished and was fully accepted. But it would not surprise me or be at all inconsistent with how God works if the consecration turned out to be ongoing – and that there was to be a final consecration of Russia individually by name before the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart. What I know is that God always accomplishes His will, sometimes through our stumbling efforts, sometimes despite them. So I don’t worry much about it.
Truth is, I had an ulterior motive. I have been deeply concerned with the visitation I briefly referenced from the early morning hours of December 20. In part of it I saw a great multitude of demons, spewing up as if from a great fountain and spreading across the whole earth. Their primary target in this year, knowing their time is short, are those who are most overtly pious and faithful. If they can cause despair here, they can destroy many. Their primary method of causing despair is to reveal to the most overtly pious that things are not as they thought they were. Think here of the crucifixion. The apostles were scattered, for even though Jesus had warned them of this, it is not what they expected. They expected the triumphant re-establishment of a temporal kingdom. I frankly think even Judas thought that all his betrayal would do was force Christ to reveal His mighty power and establish the kingdom while putting the Romans to rout. This is why Judas despaired and killed himself: things were not like he thought and so he despaired of God, rather than of his own misinterpretation. Think of the pious friends of Job. They kept defending God’s honor to Job, who kept challenging and complaining of God. In the end, God was so angry with Job’s friends that He would not even hear their prayer – but made them go and ask Job to pray that they be forgiven. I saw that even the greatest are going to be sifted like wheat in the coming year, shown that some things are not as they think. Because of it, some will despair of God.
Within the Church there is great freedom. You are not obliged to believe anything except that which is definitively revealed through Scripture and the Magisterium – and the Church is the authentic teacher of those truths. And on these things, it always irritates me to hear the phrase, “obliged to believe,” for in truth, we are actually privileged to know these things with certainty. On matters that have not been definitively taught, we are allowed room to ponder, study, speculate and propose what we will, so long as it does not lead people away from the safety of the faith. On matters of private revelation, even of approved private revelation, we are permitted to follow or ignore them as we will. The speculations of many saints and theologians have enriched the Church’s depth of understanding of the things of Christ through the ages. Every approved private revelation was once not approved…a few were even briefly condemned. These have enriched our understanding of how to respond to Christ’s invitation to salvation in particular times and places.
Yet, if you are the most brilliant and faithful person in the history of the Church, there are still many things you do not understand or misinterpret. St. Thomas Aquinas despaired of his efforts near the end of his life, when he was granted a vision of heaven – and then thinking all he had written was so much straw. Our ignorance is fine, so long as you understand that and hold tight to God, happy to be corrected when it is meet, and happy to do your humble duty when it is not. But many, perhaps most, are not engaged with God. They are engaged with their expectations of what God is, an image they have erected in their minds. For the apostles, the image of God was of a glorious warrior who would set the Romans to flight and resurrect the temporal kingdom of Israel. When they saw Him die on a cross, confounding their expectations, they were scattered. For a time they despaired of God rather than shedding their erroneous expectations.
Many theologians are dismissive of anything not penetrated in their dusty cells and dustier tomes. They regard any who deal with spiritual things as ignorant fools. They think they have captured Christ in their meanderings. Many who advocate apparitions and private revelations think they have perfectly mastered the mind of God, that they are uniquely privy to His plan of salvation and feel it their duty to denounce any who dispute their interpretation. Many who run ministries are not involved with Christ or His people, but have set up little fiefdoms to give themselves more honor and glory in this life. They are not so engaged with the people of God as they are with their dreams of the statues they think will be erected in their honor. Many who have been called to be Shepherds are more interested in protecting their sinecures than they are in feeding the Lord’s sheep. Among all of these, it is not black and white. Many who have deceived themselves actually do some very good things and preach good homilies as a fig leaf to cover their central animating vanity. They think they have tamed Christ. But like Aslan in the Narnia series (who was an image of Christ) the Lord is a Good Lion, but He is not a Tame Lion. Satan has been given leave to prove us all, to find if our love of the image of God we have erected in our minds, which is a vanity, is greater than our love of God. If it is, we will despair of God when we are shown how much we are wrong about, rather than jettisoning our errors.
Meantime, all the Bishops, even the Pope, if they love playing at the role of politician while neglecting their role of shepherd, will be tried as if by fire this year. All the laymen and politicians who love playing at being Bishops will suffer the same – though most of the politicians have already been exposed as the impotent irrelevancies they are in the last few years.
If you reacted to any suggestion that your interpretation might not be correct with an edge of bitterness, you will be tried in this coming year. If you choose to edit out facts which counter your favored position in order to bolster your beliefs, rather than considering all that you know, you will be severely tried in this coming year.
I ask you to remember that the most Scripturally knowledgeable men when Christ came were overwhelmingly arrayed against Him. Those who knew the words of the prophets the best were the most eager to condemn Christ as a fraud. Confronted with the reality of God, they chose to hold fast to their expectation of God and condemn the Real Thing. It was not merely some who did this; it was the overwhelming majority. Those who knew the most, those who were the most overtly pious were overwhelmingly those who were the most virulently hostile to Him. What makes you think we have changed so much? Or that you are exempt? To know carries with it grave responsibility – and grave danger – for it is always a source of temptation to believe you have penetrated the very mind of God. Those who loved and followed Jesus with enthusiasm were almost entirely those who did not pretend to know much of anything, except the hardness of their lives – and the despair of being oppressed by both their Roman overlords and the religious authorities who collaborated with them. To contemplate this is to begin to understand how dangerous knowledge can be. Seek wisdom.
I write this not to chide anyone. We have much freedom in the faith. I do not know who merely defends their position with vigor
while ready to accept whatever corrections God sends and who has gotten completely involved with their own expectations of what God must be. I gave a few stiff arms in the debate on that column, too. But if you look at yourself in serious examination, you will know. A bitter edge is perhaps the most obvious sign that you are not where you need to be. Rather, I write this so that you will not be taken unawares – and when your trial comes, you will not despair of God, as Judas did, but will despair of your own frailty as Peter did, and resolve to love more and unto death. Then, the satan will suffer a serious reversal, for all he will have accomplished is to burn away some of the dross that impedes the purity of your soul.
I used this method, because the Lord often used it on me – and still occasionally does. As anyone who knows me well can attest, I can easily go off into a rant. For nearly two decades, I made unwarranted assumptions from bits I was given, turned out to be terribly wrong in my interpretations, and God let me suffer the embarrassment that my brashness reaped. In time, I quit running off to obvious assumptions – or even secondary assumptions – from what I was told. I assumed far less and listened and pondered far more. Through this prolonged and often humiliating gauntlet, I learned to see a little more clearly from the eyes of eternity. Even now, it pleases the Lord to show me on a fairly regular basis where I have misinterpreted what I was told or shown. In the visitation I speak of, I was corrected of one misinterpretation I have long held – and shown what is potentially another. But it doesn’t matter. Even with my priests, I have been careful to note what is my interpretation and what is the raw message I am given. I know how stumbling and foolish I am…and solely because of my training, I am less stumbling and foolish than most. I have told you what I think of the consecration of Russia. But if it pleases the Lord to prove me wrong, it will not slow me a bit…for I know that is not my responsibility, even though I am free to speculate on it. And I know that His will is always accomplished:
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and return not thither but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:10,11
If it would shake you to find that your interpretation of the consecration, or any other matter not defined by the Church, was wholly wrong, you have a rough year ahead. It does not matter whether you turn out to be right or wrong, but whether your reliance is in God rather than in your expectations.
Fortunately, there is a sure way to avoid this sort of trial, the way of simplicity, humility and abandonment. Remember, after the resurrection Jesus repeatedly asked St Peter if he loved Him. Peter was getting frustrated at having to repeatedly assure the Master. And each time he did make the assurance, the Lord told him to “feed My lambs.” If you want to be sure of staying in the will of the Lord, abandon all vanity and take the simple way: Acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to those around you. I hope this helps you to gird your loins. Heaven knows I have told you true on the matter.
I will close with a phrase I did not think much about when I first wrote it, but have come to think was deeply inspired: “As you look at your life, you cannot measure it by the books published, the soup kitchens worked, the refuges built – though if you can do those things, they are good. Rather, you must judge it from the perspective of the hope you inspired, the peace you spread, the joy you engendered, the love you kindled – for these are the sure marks of the Kingdom and of God. All else is detail.”