Signs of the Times

Pilgrims

By Charlie Johnston

(This is an adaptation of a note I sent out to a group of friends and leaders last weekend. Several said they found it heartening enough that they thought I should submit it as a regular post. So I have. – CJ)

I find a lot of people, including the most knowledgeable, talking to me lately about how perilous the times are and what to expect. Understandable. North Korea is a tinder box, China is trying to provoke mischief, Eastern Europe is a tinderbox – and Western Europe, amazingly, even more so. Russia is making mischief, even as it tries to figure out a coherent strategy in a world gone mad. The Middle East is volatile, as is Northern Africa and Southeast Asia. Venezuela is a burning fuse in South America – and the USA is only a few steps away from open, violent conflict. The Church, traditionally the refuge in times of great crisis, is itself in great crisis, as too many Bishops think their job is to correct what they believe to be the many errors of Christ, with seeming encouragement from the top. Catholics gaze in wonder as abortion advocates, jihadists, radical population control advocates, homosexual activists and just about anyone who scorns Catholic Doctrine are welcomed at the Vatican and even appointed to Pontifical Commissions while Orthodox prelates are routinely and summarily dismissed and scolded.

As Our Lord said, “You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” (Luke 12:56). When every institution and nation is become as unstable as a crateful of nitro-glycerin loaded on a monster truck at an Oklahoma rally, something is going to blow. Yet Our Lord said that He is with us to the end of the age – and that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church. Our Lady told us of all these trials – and more – at Fatima, but promised that in the end, her Immaculate Heart will triumph. I know that both of their promises are true. Now the hour of darkness comes upon the world. But be not afraid: the darkness will not prevail.

I have had much instruction since the Inauguration. Yet there is no use in speaking of specifics. In fact, it would just confuse the issue – kind of like the mirror of Galadriel near the end of the Fellowship of the Rings. (I am reading the trilogy again – and it could be useful for you, as well. There is MUCH wisdom in there, which I have come to appreciate intensely). Things are bigger than I had imagined – and simultaneously easier and more terrible. A key reason is that God is moving in a way that is completely different than He has before. That should not have surprised me: when little minds argue that something can’t be from God because He has “never done it that way before,” I always chuckle ruefully. God is always startling, fresh and new. If something happens in a way that God HAS done it before, that is usually (not always) a sign of inauthenticity – that it is not from God but merely one of the satan’s pale imitations. The good news is that God will intervene on an Old Testament scale. The bad news is that this will enrage many people, causing them to double down on their revolt rather than come back to Him. The truly tragic news is that some of those who will be enraged against God are among those who count themselves as defenders of the faith.

The very best news is that we will each get the opportunity to choose. I have emphasized that before, but it is more important than even I knew. We can choose to serve God and help rebuild the culture or choose to serve ourselves and perish. Your choice will be proven by what you do, not by what you say. We cannot change that the darkness comes, nor are we necessary for God to secure the victory. All of this is, in large measure, so that we are forced to choose. So most of this note is a meditation on how we are to behave so as to firmly choose God and please Him.

After my blunder on the Inauguration, a good friend who knew how much I loved the Jeff Bridges version of the movie, “True Grit,” called me and recited my favorite line from the movie: “Well, that didn’t pan out.” It was after Bridges mounted an attack that went south and utterly failed. I love it because Bridge’s character, Rooster Cogburn, did not even think of trying to shift blame, nor did he even think of giving up. He laconically acknowledged the blunder, then moved on to the next step to complete his job. My friend waited about a week, lest I be sensitive about it, but when she called and greeted me with that line, it was my first big belly laugh about the whole situation. This encapsulates, in miniature, what our disposition is called to be in these times. The very best of you, even given the best information, are going to come up with plans that just don’t pan out. It is the human condition – and we are called to remember we are servants, not masters…that God knows what He is about – and even uses our blunders to further His Divine plan to perfection.

It is worth reading the Books of Moses again. No one, except perhaps Abraham (and later, the Apostles) had as direct a pipeline to God as Moses. Yet they wandered the desert for 40 years. Look at a map of the journey involved. A generous estimate is that from beginning to end, it was maybe 1,500 miles, which should have taken around a year (again generous). But they wandered in circles…for 40 years. Yes, the Jews had seen a multitude of miracles. Even so, given that they knew that Moses had a direct pipeline to God, their frustration had a sort of point: “if God is showing you the way, why are we wandering so aimlessly for so terribly long?” God’s ways are not like our ways. While we want to take the most direct and quickest route, in God’s plan, the journey is every bit as important as the destination – for it is the journey which proves and purifies us – and makes us fit for the destination. Yet because we insist on overlaying our way of thinking onto God, we constantly insist His way makes no sense. God’s purpose is to get us to heaven, not to any earthly advantage or destination. If we could see the fullness of what that means, we would be much more docile to seeming setbacks. It is not God’s plan that is deficient, but our expectations.

You are all leaders, called to serve God by being a sign of hope to His people during times of extremis. You are called to live your duty faithfully, with docility, fortitude and initiative. It pleases God that, in this time of our scourging (which we richly deserve), seldom will we be given simple choices between right and wrong. More often our options will be bad, worse, and truly atrocious. How we choose under those circumstances will purify and enlighten us – if it does not destroy us. I told you sometime back that I was instructed long ago by the Lord, Himself, that I would be held accountable for every soul I could have given effective witness to but did not out of anger…and that I would be held accountable for every assault on the faithful that I could have stopped but did not out of fear or false charity. This is humanly impossible – and I am NOT allowed to not act. It can only be done with fear and trembling and complete trust in God, for I have made many mistakes and will make many more before all is done. Welcome to the club, all of you.

Your most important tools in this time are love of your neighbor, expressed through duty and honor in filial love for God. It is, in part, good not to see too much with clarity because that can become a seduction to you. You see something alarming and you want to go fix it – but you know not what God’s plans are. This a tough lesson, but one God is insistent on. I thank God that I was given many lessons in it from the earliest days in order to blunt this instinct. There were a couple of occasions over the last few decades when people I loved were in places where I knew a catastrophe loomed. Every nerve in my body screamed to warn them, but I was not given leave. Having had the experience on more than a few occasions when I was younger of intervening despite God’s strictures – and thus making matters worse…or even bringing on the ill I sought to avoid…I learned a stronger docility. I prayed intensely and constantly while going about my little duty faithfully. You will learn to do the same, though I hope by less harsh means than I did. The best thing you can do for anyone is to do the little duty right in front of you with love and fidelity. Do not worry whether it humanly seems great or small. That is God’s business, not yours. Besides, our perception is so deficient that often what seems great to us is a trifle to God and what seems a trifle to us is great to God.

Vanity is, by far, your deadliest enemy – and the means by which the noblest souls are taken captive by the devil. Whenever you get caught in a sterile argument seeking simply to prove you are right, step back. If your conversational partner merely wants to prove he is right – ignoring or evading those key points that must be considered, step back. In the first case, you are not arguing honestly. In the second, you are not arguing with an honest opponent. In neither case can good come – and in both cases it leaves opening for the devil. Yes, you must vigorously seek to find the truth, but when you have decided, you must cast your bread upon the water with both humility and fortitude. Not all discussion leads to truth – and discussion that can only lead to a brawl is best left behind as soon as it is indisputable that this is where it is headed. If you are charged with making the decision for a group, seek counsel. When you are satisfied you have heard all you can without going into vain repetition, make the decision firmly and without malice. To fail to make a decision leaves those associated with you rudderless and paralyzed. To make a decision without seeking counsel makes you an autocrat. Act with justice and prudence always – and when a decision must be made quickly, do so without looking back. Having made a habit of both taking counsel and acting decisively when you do have time, you will find those decisions you have to make when you don’t have the luxury of time are much better because of your habitual discipline. Now one could argue that I am often hot-tempered and combative. True enough, but those who know me best know that while I am often bold, I am rarely brash. Plus, there is another factor that most do not know. When it comes to my own interpretations or preferences, I am always willing to consider – and even eager – to get fresh insight. When it comes to something I am directed to from above, I do not cede anything. Often, when it appears that I am defending my own opinion, I am actually vigorously protecting those things that are prime directives.

The satan is very subtle in how he inflames vanity. Often, insecurity is merely a perverse form of pride. Stay away from self-absorption of all kinds. If you are constantly worrying where you fit in or whether your work is good enough, you are at the edge of vanity – for you put far more emphasis on your role in the unfolding drama and not nearly enough on the work itself. My mother was prone to this. She was ever uncertain about herself and how she was coming off – and was largely clumsy and ineffective because of it. But when her dander was up, when she got completely outside of herself for a cause, she was magnificent. I told her after our relations became very warm again that this was true. She pondered and agreed – but told me how terribly hard it was to get outside herself…that something had to be big enough for her to forget to think of or care what people thought of her for it to kick in. It is no wonder…she had some brutally tough things to deal with and ugly people when she was little. But I am grateful that after we spoke of it, while she could not call up at will the effortless competence that she had when her blood was up, she was able to act comfortably far more consistently. The devil uses our pride, our shame, our guilt and our uncertainty to hobble us. Stay focused on the work with humility and fortitude and all will be well.

Remember that there is no coercion in Christ. He calls us freely and respects our conscience. We gain converts by, first, the witness of our lives and, second, the persuasiveness of our arguments. That is not to say Christians should be milquetoasts. While we cannot force anyone to be Christian, we must also forcefully defend Christians from assaults by the enemies of the faith. We will not coerce anyone’s conscience neither will we suffer our own to be coerced.

I know many are dismayed by the strange doings in the Church. I count myself among them. I think of the Church as a great hospital for souls, founded by the Divine Physician, who commanded His followers to carry on and do likewise in His name. At times we have had “doctors” who were all doctrine and no pastoral care: who eagerly diagnosed the illnesses, but were so disgusted by the sick that they would do no doctoring. That is a betrayal of the Master – and they will be held to account for the arrogant tyrants they are. That is not the main problem now. Today we have “doctors” who, faced with a deadly disease, have no answer except to tell the dying patient he is okay just as he is while congratulating themselves on their mercy. Vain fools! Their “mercy” is to condemn their patients to death, merely soothing them in their misery. They are passive serial killers of the soul – and they will be held to account for their betrayal of the Master. In his magnificent new book, “The Power of Silence,” Robert Cardinal Sarah says that “Bishops who scatter the sheep that Jesus has entrusted to them will be judged mercilessly and severely by God.” But throughout the ages, the tares have always grown alongside the wheat – sometimes in abundance among the laity, sometimes among the consecrated. And in all ages, God has raised up just the sort of saints needed to protect His Church and defend the faithful. When Martin Luther began his dissent, there was just cause for dissent. Yet he was not content to call for reform of abuses. Had he just chased out the rats of abuse, he could have been a great reformer. But he chose to try to blow up the castle to get rid of the rats – and brought terrible divisions into Christianity. Let us resist the rats while carefully preserving the castle. In all ages, whether the bulk of corruption is found in the sheep or the shepherds – or both – we can always choose to be faithful…and the God of abundance takes those little seeds of faithfulness and multiplies them gloriously until the Church is renewed. Every period of fallow faith is merely prelude to a great new flowering. So we are called to be seeds of a great new flowering of the faith that we cannot yet see.

Recently, a friend on the team described my style of leadership as “Leadership by giving away leadership.” I like that a lot. God gives us each unique characteristics, with particular strengths. When we lead, we exercise our creative capacity – a fundamental way in which we are created in the Divine Image. If a group is led by one charismatic figure who insists it all be done his way, you unleash the creative capacity of one person. When all in the group take counsel with one another, but each is given deference in his own area of responsibility, you unleash the creative capacity of all. It is the difference between lighting a candle and firing up a great power plant. The creative capacity of all, working in unity (but not uniformity), is the nuclear power of human endeavors. So I say bear with each other and bear each other up, not just in matters of style, but in matters of judgment where the range of licit choices may vary. That is supremely important now when many choices will be between bad, worse, and truly atrocious. To insist that your conscience must be everyone’s conscience is to destroy unity for the sake of uniformity, barring of course, actual illicit means that are Magisterially forbidden in all cases. Let us not be a hand that condemns a foot because it is not a hand (1 Corinthians 12). Sometimes autocratic leaders give their subordinates leave until those subordinates make a blunder – then reassert control. I say anyone who makes no blunders is not doing enough. Support honorable colleagues at all times. Rejoice in their successes and bear them up in their failures. Cover their mistakes with your competence as you depend on them to cover your mistakes with their competence. You will thereby forge an unbreakable solidarity in good times and in bad. In these times, God calls forth a symphony of talented followers, no one-man bands.

Know that, if you are the most brilliant person in the history of the world, there is much more you don’t know than that you do. All the temporal knowledge, all the temporal power, all the money in history is a pitiful impoverished thing in the sight of heaven. The only thing any of these things is good for is how they can help us lead our fellows to Him who is all things – and for that purpose, they are great gifts, indeed. Thus, St. Thomas Aquinas was absolutely right when, after receiving a vision near the end of his life, proclaimed all his writings to be so much straw. But it was straw that led people to Christ, so rich is his reward. He spun the straw of his words into the gold of souls gained to Christ. The richest, most powerful, most brilliant man who uses his gifts to aggrandize himself is a piteous eunuch. The simplest who cares for his brother and brings one to share in the joy of Christ is a great man. How often are those who are considered great on earth regarded with pity and contempt in heaven – and those despised on earth held in the greatest honor in heaven! Bear each other up, cover each other’s failings.

People often say I have a gift for conveying complex notions with vivid simplicity…and I suppose I do. But the truth is that one of my greatest frustrations is how poorly I am able to explain the true beauty of what I am shown with such tender clarity. If people could only see the goodness of the Lord, the tender and intense love He has for each of us, even a hint of the true paradise He has prepared for us, they would worry not at all about who has the biggest bucket in this little sandbox of our mortal lives. How I wish I could explain it with real convincing power, but I take consolation that, even in my clumsy way, I seem to have sparked some hope and love in some people these last few years. That we may be neighbors in heaven…now there is a worthy goal.

Make your case with vigor, act decisively in what you are responsible for, always leaving room for the knowledge that our ways are not God’s ways. I have long thought that Judas’ fault was not that he did not believe, but that he could not get beyond the bounds of his own limited perspective. I think he DID believe Jesus was the Messiah…but Judas only thought in terms of a temporal kingdom. He did not seek to betray Jesus, I don’t think, but to force His hand, to make Him reveal His supreme power…to get on with the business of restoring the kingdom of David. He substituted his judgment for that of God – and a great tragedy was that he could not even conceive that if Jesus was Messiah, that He could have a different, better plan than Judas. Let us not be Judases, eager to denounce what we have not the wit to imagine the scope of in God’s intentions. Trust Him even when we do not at all understand why He permits what He permits.

On a very bright note, Donald Trump gave a truly inspirational and noble speech in Poland. Of course, when a man speaks eloquently of faith, family, fortitude and freedom under God that gets right to the heart of what is most important to me. Even if it is not strong enough yet to forestall the darkness around us, I am grateful that we now have a core of people in government who are committed enough to those things that we can think in terms of preservation and restoration in America. This truly is global in its scope, but it is good to have something to build on.

If, somehow, this darkness fades away without the need for battle or confrontation, I will be deeply grateful and enjoy my retirement. But if as seems likely, it degenerates into a great struggle, I pray to do my little duty faithfully until the end, knowing that God will set all things right again in His good time and endeavoring to cooperate with Him in driving away the smoke that has obscured the glorious light of Christ in this poor, bleeding world of ours. You probably assume that I have reason for sending you such a long rambling missive. I don’t know exactly what is going to happen or when, but if it does, I wanted to share with you some of the mainstays of what guide me in hopes that some of it may fortify you whatever challenges come. If the “invasion of Poland” moment comes, I will probably vanish for a short time to make camp in the mountains, to pray and seek instruction in the silence. It will be brief, certainly not as much as two weeks. But should it come, I do not want you to think I have fled or been taken.

God bless all of you. You have different strengths, different characteristics, different charisms. There is no uniformity among all of us friends, but may there ever be the unity that will help us show the light of the world in all His glory! Defend the faith, hearten the faithful, defend the faithful: that is our charge, to the service of Our Lord under the banner of Our Lady.

Posted in Spiritual Preparation, The Storm, Uncategorized | 351 Comments

The Light Shines on in the Darkness

A man of incredible intellect and energy, Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D., noticed a marked decrease in faith among college students when he was President of Gonzaga University, 1998-2009, so he founded the Magis Center with the following mission and goal in mind:

Our Mission: To provide a comprehensive and rational response to today’s “secular myths”.
Our Goal: To restore, reconstruct, and revitalize belief in God, the transcendent dignity of every human person, the significance of virtue, the higher levels of happiness, love, and freedom, and the real presence of Jesus Christ. We will find and return lost sheep to the Good Shepherd.

Through his research, Fr. Spitzer discovered four predominant myths which were contributing to the loss of faith in God and he set out to address them in his work:

The Conflict between Faith and Science.

The Conflict between Suffering and Love.

The Conflict between Christian Virtue and Freedom (and Moral Relativism)

Skepticism about the Significance and Reality of Jesus.

On Friday nights, Fr. Spitzer teaches and fields questions, based on his work, during his EWTN-hosted program, Fr. Spitzer’s Universe. Episodes of these programs can be found on You Tube. In addition to teaching via his dynamic speaking presentations, Father is a prolific writer and I highly recommend his latest book: The Light Shines on in the Darkness, Transforming Suffering through Faith (Happiness, Suffering and Transcendence)I’ll feature excerpts from this book in future posts because they are rich in discussing the theological foundations of suffering – not in an abstract way, but with real-life, heart-capturing ideas – and in offering concrete, practical prayers and exercises which facilitate our ability to remain connected with Christ, even during the most difficult trials.

We know, intellectually, we must trust God and, by His Grace, we continue to grow in this virtue as we strive to choose trust at all times. We also know this Storm will continue to intensify and, surely, we can see the necessity of such purification for our sick and troubled world. Charlie has often assured us that the events of the Storm will become an instrument to awaken God’s people and bring us back to complete reliance on Him. But how easily sane and serene thinking fly out the window when we’re saturated in chaos with commensurate intense emotions. My ardent desire in manning this post is to accomplish what we all on TNRS Team hold dear: we continue traversing the Storm, in solidarity, heartening, edifying, inspiring, interceding in prayer and supporting each other in any possible way, perhaps, in ways yet unseen. For now, let me more completely introduce Father’s new book, which was released on May 1st of this year, by including the following endorsements:

Simply one of the finest works ever compiled on the mystery of suffering. Fr. Robert Spitzer’s “The Light Shines On In The Darkness: Transforming Suffering through Faith (Happiness, Suffering, and Transcendence)” could be considered a “catechism of suffering,” but not one rooted in misery, but rather anchored in the experience of God’s great mercy and redemptive sacrifice. This is a book of hope and one that should be experienced by all Christians, and in particular, those who minister in any way shape or form in the New Evangelization. Why would a loving God allow suffering? Is there any good that can be brought forth from our trials? So much more is addressed in this opus. I could not put this book down. Pick it up, you won’t regret it!

“Suffering has the power to break or elevate the human spirit. Lived in the spirit of the Gospel and borne for the sake of others, it’s the most redemptive, transfiguring force in creation. Fr. Spitzer has written a magisterial work on the meaning of suffering, a work remarkable both for its depth and beauty.”
— Most Rev. Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia

 

“In this trenchant and searching book, Fr. Spitzer responds to the most powerful objection to the proposition that God exists, namely, the problem of suffering. And he dares to do what very few are willing to do today: to articulate how evil and pain are ingredients in the providential design of a loving God.”
–Bishop Robert Barron, Host, Catholicism film series

 

“Fr. Spitzer draws not only from his singular intellect, but also from the deep well of his personal experience and suffering. God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. It’s edifying to see how true this is even in a man of such stature. This book is ultimately about the personal crisis of suffering everybody goes through, but nobody’s prepared for. This book is invaluable.”
Scott Hahn, Ph.D., Author, Rome Sweet Home

A wonderful interview with Fr. Spitzer concerning his new book is found here.

From Charlie’s post about the Prayer of Miraculous Trust:

“A prayer to abandon yourself to trust in God; to bind yourself to His will with trust rather than trying to bind Him to yours. Pope Francis called Our Lady of Guadalupe the “Virgin of Tepeyac” at her last feast day. Tepeyac Hill is where she appeared, not Guadalupe, hence the title Our Lady of Tepeyac, Mother of Conversion. At its deepest level, this is a prayer that we all convert ourselves to God’s Holy Will.

Back of card: PRAYER OF MIRACULOUS TRUST:  (This prayer is to help you turn things over to God, trusting that once you have done so, whatever He then allows is for your eternal good and that of those you love.  It lets you ask what you want of God, then closes by abandoning yourself to what God wants of you.  Do not say it more than once for any particular intention, as this is an abandonment to trust)

Begin by asking for the help of Our Lady of Tepeyac, then cross yourself and say:

By the power of Our Lord, Jesus Christ; to the honor of Our Lady, the Immaculate Conception; in service to her Immaculate Heart; I ask you Lord (state intention here and ask for the intercession of the saint of your choice).  I thank you for hearing my prayer.  Thy will be done.  Amen.

Cross yourself again, and give it over to God entirely with trust.”

I saw a pithy saying last week I will end with: “Don’t worry about tomorrow. God is already there.”

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 103 Comments

Our Lady of America, Pray for Us

Our Lady of America

(A recent article by our friend, Dan Lynch.  His website, Dan Lynch Apostolates, is found here.)

Johnny Depp and Other “Kill Trump” Celebrities
Dan Lynch

Johnny Depp and other “Kill Trump” celebrities by their words and actions have made implied threats upon the life of our duly elected President, Donald Trump. Regardless of his apparent character defects, the Catholic Catechism recognizes our duty to honor his authority and to treat him with respect. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1900). He certainly has a natural right to life as recognized by our Founders.

On the eve of the celebration of our country’s Declaration of Independence, we must recognize and defend God’s natural law that our Founders recognized. Thomas Jefferson wrote the immortal words in the Declaration, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Last month, actor Johnny Depp alluded to the assassination of President Lincoln by actor John Wilkes Booth, with an apparent reference to President Trump, by asking a crowd, “When was the last time an actor killed a President?…It has been awhile and maybe it is time.” The crowd cheered.

Last May, celebrity Kathy Griffin posed for abhorrent photos holding a mask that looked like the bloodied head of President Trump. How do you think that would affect his innocent children? President Trump tweeted, “My children, especially my 11 year-old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!”

At January’s Women’s March on Washington, celebrity Madonna mused in a speech that she’d “thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House.”

A summer production of Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar in New York City had a President Trump look-alike actor dressed like our President who played the part of Julius Caesar. He was bloodily assassinated on stage with the implication that President Trump’s presidency should end in the same way.

We should recognize and honor our President’s legitimate authority and respect his dignity and his life and not make him an implied target for assassination. St. Paul said to pray “for all in authority, [such as our President] that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” (1Timothy 2:1-4).

The Catholic Catechism teaches us:

  • Human society can be neither well-ordered nor prosperous unless it has some people invested with legitimate authority to preserve its institutions and to devote themselves as far as is necessary to work and care for the good of all….
  • Every human community needs an authority to govern it. The foundation of such authority lies in human nature. It is necessary for the unity of the state. Its role is to ensure as far as possible the common good of the society.
  • The authority required by the moral order derives from God: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” (Romans 13:1-2; cf. 1 Peter 2:13-17).
  • The duty of obedience requires all to give due honor to authority and to treat those who are charged to exercise it with respect, and, insofar as it is deserved, with gratitude and good-will. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1897-1900).

Let us pray for President Trump, Pope St. Clement of Rome’s ancient prayer for political authorities:  “Grant to them, Lord, health, peace, concord, and stability, so that they may exercise without offense the sovereignty that you have given them. Master, heavenly King of the ages, you give glory, honor, and power over the things of earth to the sons of men. Direct, Lord, their counsel, following what is pleasing and acceptable in your sight, so that by exercising with devotion and in peace and gentleness the power that you have given to them, they may find favor with you.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1900).

The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in Indiana to the visionary Sister Mildred in 1956 and identified herself as “Our Lady of America, The Immaculate Virgin, Patroness of your land.” She promised peace and protection if we responded to her requests.

Change will come to America either through violence or conversions. Let us pray through Our Lady of America her Novena for conversions, true change and hope and for her promised peace and protection, especially for our President.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 102 Comments

Another Fortnight for Freedom

(Each year dioceses around the country arrange special events to highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. This year the Fortnight for Freedom is from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day.  It is I who have requested permission from Msgr. Charles Pope to reprint his articles. ~Beckita)

Fortnight for Freedom: Please Spend Some Time Working and Praying to Defend Your Religious Freedom

By Msgr Charles Pope                                                                                                June 22, 2017

There has been a steady erosion of religious liberty in the United States in recent years. It has been challenged through a broad range of incidents, requirements from the medical world, health insurance mandates, and court decisions. We often take our religious freedom for granted, but it is under substantive though sometimes subtle challenge. We are in the midst of a sea change; we are being told that religion has no place in the marketplace, in the public forum.

It is one thing to request that the government, in its official capacity, refrain from sponsoring sectarian prayer, but it is quite another to tell believers that they are not allowed to express their religion, refer to God, or pray in any sort of public way.

Further, religious exemptions — historically granted when religious beliefs and government policy collide — are gradually being removed, not included at all, or interpreted so strictly that they can never apply. Catholic institutions are gradually being pressured to provide contraceptives in medical plans, to cooperate in adoptions by gay couples or single parents, to provide spousal benefits to gay couples, and to cooperate in providing abortion coverage (by not being able to opt out of plans that provide such coverage).

Some of the erosion of religious liberty is subtle, hidden deep in the details of legislation and the strict interpretations of various judges. It requires the Church and other religious organizations to fight on multiple fronts in a wearying number of cases involving (arcane but significant) legal minutia.

On some level, the erosion of religious liberty is simply due to the sheer number of legal maneuvers occurring in multiple jurisdictions simultaneously. The Church and other religious entities may win an individual battle in one case only to have to face multiple appeals and similar battles in other jurisdictions. Keeping the faithful organized and alert, and maintaining the legal resources to meet every challenge is difficult. It is a kind of death by a thousand cuts.

Consider the following small sample involving the Church and/or fellow Christians:

•  Catholics Charities no longer able to provide adoption services –  As reported by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), “Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington — which has provided support to children and families for over eighty years — had a partnership with the District of Columbia for its foster care and public adoption program.  However, in 2010, a law redefining legal marriage to include two people of the same sex took effect.  The District then informed Catholic Charities that it would no longer be an eligible foster care and adoption partner.  Why?  Because, as a Catholic organization, Catholic Charities was committed to placing children with married [opposite sex] couples so that each child would have the experience of a mom and a dad.” Similar “decertification” occurred in foster care/ adoption services in Boston, San Francisco, and Illinois. “In the name of tolerance, we’re not being tolerated,” said Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois.

•  Christian business owners threatened with fines and/or decertification – Increasing numbers of laws are being passed which seek to force business owners with firmly held religious beliefs to choose between providing services that violate those religious beliefs and suffering potentially devastating legal/financial consequences. A few such cases follow:

oNew Mexico – The owners of a photography studio refused to photograph a same-sex “commitment ceremony” because they did not want to participate in a ritual that contradicted their beliefs. In 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied the owners’ appeal, affirming the lower court opinion that the studio violated the New Mexico Human Rights Act.
oIdaho – In 2014, two Protestant ministers (a husband and wife) who operate a wedding chapel in Coeur d’Alene refused to officiate at a same-sex “wedding.” City officials informed the ministers that this violated the city’s ordinance outlawing discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of “sexual orientation.” The city eventually chose not to prosecute the ministers.
oWashington – A florist who turned down a request to provide flowers for a same-sex “wedding” was sued by the Washington State Attorney General. In February 2017, the Washington Supreme Court ruled against the florist on the basis that she had violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws, despite the fact that she had served this particular customer (who she knew was in a same-sex relationship) for almost ten years before declining to participate in this particular event.
oColorado – Two men “married” in Massachusetts approached a Denver bakery to make a “wedding” cake for their “wedding” reception in Denver. For religious reasons, the owner of the bakery declined to make the cake. The two men filed a complaint with the Colorado Division of Civil Rights, which found that the bakery had violated the law. The Colorado State Attorney General’s office then filed a complaint against the bakery, resulting in further rulings against the bakery. The baker has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
oVermont – For allegedly not hosting a “wedding” reception for a same-sex “couple,” the Catholic owners of a bed and breakfast establishment settled a discrimination lawsuit, requiring them to (1) pay a $10,000 civil penalty, (2) pay $20,000 to a charitable trust, and (3) not host wedding receptions of any kind. Upon settling the lawsuit, the owners of the bed and breakfast said, “No one can force us to abandon our deeply held beliefs about marriage.”
oNew Jersey – The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights found that a Methodist organization violated a public accommodations law by not allowing a same-sex civil union ceremony to take place at its boardwalk pavilion.

Business owners should not be compelled to act against their deeply held religious beliefs. There are plenty of businesses willing to serve those who wish to engage in these controversial behaviors, which challenge long-held (even ancient) moral understandings. If a Christian baker refuses to serve a person with same-attraction who seeks to buy a cake, simply due to the customer’s sexual orientation, that would constitute an unreasonable act of discrimination by the part of the baker. However, if this same person seeks to engage the Christian baker to provide a cake that directly celebrates and/or affirms an act that the baker considers sinful, that would impose an undue and unnecessary burden on the baker. This is because it compels the baker to either violate his conscience or face serious legal and/or financial consequences.

•  Catholic employers required to cover objectionable medicines and “medical” procedures – The Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate — which requires coverage for sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients, abortion-inducing drugs — still contains language requiring religious institutions to facilitate or fund such coverage even if it is contrary to their moral teaching. This is because the federal government claims the right to define which religious institutions are “religious enough” to merit protection of their religious liberty.

•  Catholic humanitarian services organization required to provide or refer for objectionable medicines and “medical” procedures – After years of excellent performance by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) in administering contract services for victims of human trafficking, the federal government changed its grant specifications such that MRS was required to provide or refer for contraceptive and abortion services, in direct violation of Catholic teaching.

•  Christian student organizations not officially recognized on campus – In its history of over 100 years, the University of California Hastings College of Law has denied official recognition to only one student group — the Christian Legal Society — because it requires its leaders to be Christian and to abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage.

•  Christians may not rent school buildings to hold services – In 1994, New York City’s Department of Education denied the request of the Bronx Household of Faith and several other Christian Churches to rent space from public schools on weekends for worship services, even though non-religious groups were permitted to rent the same space for numerous other purposed. In 2011, a federal appellate court upheld New York City’s ban (on allowing private worship services to be conducted in vacant public schools on weekends) and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case. The city’s policy is a simple case of discrimination against religious believers: people may assemble in vacant school space for any peaceful purpose—except religious worship.

These sorts of bans, legal motions, suits, and fines, are becoming increasingly widespread, and the legal landscape is often shifting. This steady “drip, drip, drip” is helping to erode religious liberty and free speech related to religion.

It is essential that we remain vigilant in these matters. Some want to exclude Christians — indeed all believers — from the public marketplace of ideas. There are increasing numbers of strident secularists who insist that the only legal place for religious expression is inside of a church building or on church-owned property. This is not right and it is not constitutional:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of a religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution).

Christians and other religious individuals have no less right to free speech, to assemble peaceably, or to petition the government, than any other individuals or groups. Yet many are increasingly arguing that the mere fact that a religious perspective is involved (or that this perspective is not in keeping with recent moral shifts in our culture) should exclude religious people altogether from having a place in the public square. Indeed, in many cases they argue that we should be fined and forced out of the marketplace.

Recognize that in many public schools, our children can be exposed to almost any philosophy, some of them aberrant and with limited supported from the general populace. At the same time, even referring to the Bible as an historical factor in this nation’s history may trigger a lawsuit. Condoms are freely distributed in most schools, yet the mere presence of a Bible is often greeted with hostility by school administrators. Providing information about (and even celebrating) “gay pride,” “transgenderism,” and “gender diversity” is often required in schools, but the mere mention of Jesus (or Christianity) or Christian students quietly praying voluntarily in the school courtyard is often forbidden. This is exclusion of the Catholic and biblical vision is both inequitable and illegal.

Religious Liberty is about more than institutions such as the Catholic Church having rights. The point is that you have a right to the free exercise of your faith. There are people, organizations, and governments agencies seeking to limit or even eliminate your right to religious liberty.

You also have the right to free speech, and there is nothing in the Constitution that says your free speech rights don’t include religious topics or references to God and the biblical moral view. Many people and organizations are seeking to legally silence any religious speech and any religiously based motivations.

Don’t let this happen. Be sober and vigilant about these threats to your liberties. Insist that Christians have the same rights that other citizens do in speaking to their values publicly and in seeking to influence public discussion and public policy.

We need to be alert in these matters and stay thirsty for justice. Work with your local diocese and take part in needed actions such as contacting your representatives when laws are under consideration.

The USCCB maintains a website with a wealth of information on this topic, and it is updated frequently: Fortnight for Freedom.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 40 Comments

The New Barbarism is the Old Normal

Luxembourg-Gardens-20123

By Charlie Johnston

 

“How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” – Luke 13:34

 

To be a serious student of history does not engender optimism. The arc of history no more bends towards justice than the arc of botany bends toward elegantly intricate formal gardens. Both history and gardens are what men shape them to be. If the men of an age are brutish and crude, so will it be with the history and gardens they leave behind them.

All of recorded history is a monotonous repetition of various factions of men seeking to rule through the use of force and violence, taking command, ruling ruthlessly, then ultimately collapsing or being overthrown by other factions using the same tactics against them. It is the default setting for humanity. The founding of Christianity carved out what should have been an enclave for personal conscience and dissent. Certainly its founder, Jesus Christ, insisted that people were to come to Him by evangelization rather than coercion. People are supposed to know we are Christians by our love for each other and for all. It sometimes worked that way. The way for Christianity to be favored in ancient Rome was paved even in the midst of the persecutions as more than a few Roman tribunals turned a blind eye to Christians in their midst and encouraged the same in their superiors. The reason? Christians were noted for giving care and succor to all, regardless of religion – and the Romans were hard put to provide adequate relief, themselves, to the suffering. Alas, when prosperous and dominant, Christians, themselves, have often used the human tools of oppression, force and violence to enforce their will, quite in defiance of our Founder.

The Anglo-Saxons were notable in, over time, limiting the power even of kings. The Magna Carta of 1215 was an early formal document limiting that power, but it was not quite the bold statement on the rights of man many imagine it to be. It merely limited the king’s arbitrary power over feudal barons – barons who still retained arbitrary, brute power over the common people in their own lands. Still, this seed sprouted over centuries into a growing conviction that men had some rights that even a victorious king could not trespass against. In the century before the American Revolution, England had advanced quite remarkably in respecting the rights of minorities in the home country, even as raw force and brute power were the means to control the common rabble in most of the rest of Europe. Whatever refinement England had developed on the subject rarely applied to its colonial subjects.

Most (though not all) of the religious wars were only tangentially religious: they were wars for territory or dominance and used religion as a fig leaf over the real intentions or to whip troops into a fighting frenzy. Even so, religious authorities often did themselves no honor. Everyone knows about the Catholic executions of people for heresy. Fewer are aware that after the Reformation, the Protestants executed an order of magnitude more “witches” than the Catholics ever did heretics. England’s King Henry VIII embarked on a murderous, bloody repression of Catholics after he founded the Anglican Church. When, a century later, Catholics re-took power in England they embarked on the same murderous, bloody repression of Protestants. When the Protestants re-took power, more of the same. The St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in Catholic France was a sickening episode of treachery and slaughter. The Catholic King had lured Protestant Hueguenots to Paris for the marriage of his sister, Marguerite to the Protestant King Henry III of Navarre, pretending a reconciliation. Then was launched several weeks of targeted assassinations and mob violence against the Protestants who had come under the banner and promise of peace. With St. Joan of Arc, I was particularly struck when I first learned that the evil conspirators took a break in the midst of her trial to celebrate Holy Week. It was striking they did not see the stark parallels between the judicial murder of Jesus, which they were celebrating and the judicial murder of Joan, which they were committing. Even had Joan been a fraud, her accusers would have brought the wrath of God on themselves for their malice, lies and deceptions. They decided from the beginning there was no acceptable outcome but her death – and lied, cheated and deceived to get it. Most despicable, her tormentors constantly claimed that they did what they did out of “charity and love” for her. Nicholas Loyseleur, who spied on Joan in her cell while pretending to be her friend, recommended out of “charity” for her soul and “love” for her person that she be tortured until she confess. There ever has been a species of false piety that deceives itself by calling its malice charity and its vicious assaults love. But God gets His own in striking ironies: Nicholas Midi preached a two-hour homily preceding the burning of St. Joan, comparing her relentlessly to a leprosy on the Body of Christ. He insisted the only way to deal with leprosy was to burn it out entirely. Shortly after her death, Midi was consumed with leprosy and died miserably.

The Enlightenment rose among French intellectuals in the very late 17th Century, explicitly elevating the “rights of man” as a primary philosophical and political imperative. The American Revolution was the first flowering of the Enlightenment – and the only flowering before the divorce of faith and reason. If the Enlightenment did well in enshrining the “rights of man” as a priority, it disastrously redefined the nature of man as a consumer – a complicated animal – rather than a subordinate creator imbued with innate dignity from his Divine Creator. Faith without reason is mere superstition, but reason without faith quickly degenerates into unreasoning brutality and tyranny.

Soon, all revolutions and upheavals were done in the name of “the people” rather than national glory – and the new humanists seemed determined to show that when it came to murderous mayhem visited on innocents, religious folk were shabby second-raters compared to the new leftist utopians. The French Revolution overthrew the established order and God along with it, while terrorizing the people of France (in the name of “the people,” of course) until the terror consumed quite a few leaders of the revolution, as well. Order was finally re-established, if a bit rockily, with the rise of Napoleon. The atheist utopian movements of the 20th Century alone (Bolshevism, Nazism, Chinese Communism) butchered more people than were killed in all the religious wars of history combined. Nothing changed with the Enlightenment except that murder was always done in the name of “the people” and the ambitious hyper-charged their murderous rage, unconstrained by concern that they might ultimately face a just God. If some people did not bend to their utopian schemes, their response was to kill the dissenters – and then surely utopia would reign.

Strikingly, there has not been a genuine intellectual among the monstrous “idealistic” revolutionaries who have shed so much blood, except perhaps for Vladimir Lenin (who had some real abstract heft, but was seriously deficient in logic and in the practical matter of administration). Lenin was also the only one who, reaching the end of his life, was sincere enough and smart enough to see he had erred, perhaps tragically. He had unleashed brutal methods for a half-baked idealistic cause and came to suspect that, in his aftermath, it would be all brutality and no idealism. “I am, I believe, strongly guilty before the workers of Russia…” he wrote in his last year – and denounced Josef Stalin – but too late. The utopian ideologues imagine themselves to be enlightened, even though they wholly abandon intellectual rigor. They embrace an ideology which, they think, explains everything, so it relieves them of the obligation of actual study and learning. They mount childish, unexamined fantasies as the formula for utopia. Any failure has to be the result of sabotage or incorrect thinking. Rather than examine themselves critically, they attack critics, first denouncing them, then jailing them, then (with no Christianity to restrain them) executing them. Even massive executions do not make their crackpot schemes any more effective, so they almost always end by executing allies before the whole project collapses. The contrast between the dull-witted, but thuggish, stupidity of the atheist utopians and their fatuous self-regard as brilliant and enlightened is remarkable.

Somehow the leftist utopian movements almost always incorporate some form of genocide before they collapse. In Revolutionary France, it was against aristocrats – and some Jacobin partisans complained that not enough children of aristocrats were being regularly executed on the guillotine. In Russia, it was the kulaks (peasant landholders). Kulaks were always regarded by the Soviets as enemies of the state, for anyone who owned a cow, two chickens and a quarter acre of land was obviously an incipient capitalist. Some seven million kulaks were intentionally starved or executed (mostly in Ukraine) by Stalin’s forces. This did NOT increase Soviet grain production, as Stalin promised it would, but set it back 20 years. Only a Communist could believe murdering millions of your top farmers could increase crop yields. Nazi Germany’s genocide against Jews particularly, but Catholics, gypsies, the handicapped, and Christians generally is well known. Mao Zedong probably beats all in sheer numbers and comprehensive brutality. During the four years of the “Great Leap Forward” he killed about 45 million of his own people through forced starvation, and working or beating them to death. Prominent among his victims were the peasants who had helped bring him to power. Then in the later decade of the “Cultural Revolution” he murdered many of the very people he had used to enforce the Great Leap Forward. Put simply, socialism is the ideology of the death camp and atheism the theology of genocide.

The American Founders accomplished a myriad of astonishing things, not by adopting some ideology that relieved them of the obligation of studying evidence, facts, logic and history; but by considering all of these with starkly rigorous honesty, then working to find solutions to seemingly intractable problems. They created a self-governing republic that defended liberty while maintaining stability. It was an unprecedented accomplishment. They set up a system that allowed for the most vigorous of disputes to be settled without routine resort to violence and bloodshed. Given the history of the world, it was as striking, rare and fragile as a rose growing in a dung heap. They accomplished this primarily in two ways: First, they adopted universal standards of justice that were to be objectively applied to all, great and small. Standards could be changed by the majority act of the governed, but judges and law enforcement were to be governed by those standards rather than personal opinions or affections. Second was the separation of powers between legislative, executive and judicial authority so that none was supreme over the others, and the division of powers between the federal and state governments, creating a form of subsidiarity to prevent power from centralizing and becoming unaccountable. In the United States, you gained power by the persuasiveness of your case, not the force of your fist. Should you try, instead, to brutalize your opponent or commit violence to take power, the whole society would pursue your arrest and imprisonment. To sustain this, a great deal of emphasis was placed on maintaining the integrity of processes. This was critical for the same reason that process is critical to a baseball game. If umpires are routinely able to say that some batters only get two strikes before they are out and others get four, it won’t be long until confidence in the game itself collapses. To maintain public consensus in a system which all sometimes – and many, often – lose, the standards must be seen to be rigorously fair, objective and equally applied to all.

After a pause of about 50 years, nations throughout the globe slowly began to adopt versions of the American system, desperate to escape the routine violence and brutality that rocked their own systems. To get an idea of the proportion of human history and global geography that has lived in a society where disputes were settled by peaceful means rather than by violence and brute force, imagine a postage stamp on a football field. Many of us have lived on that postage stamp for so long we have forgotten how terrible the normal way of settling disputes was. And, so, a new atheist utopian movement has risen in America and the west. The movement is as ignorant as its forebears, as airily certain of its own brilliance and rectitude, as unwilling to engage in real and rigorous scholarship, and as impatient to impose its own vision on its contemporaries by any means necessary. Incapable – and unwilling to put in the effort – to accomplish its aims through persuasion of contemporaries, it thinks it has stumbled onto something new by subverting legal processes, using brute force, and encouraging violence to achieve its aims rather than something depressingly tiresome and old.

Confronted with the depredations of the atheist left, the leadership of Christians and the right has been utterly ineffective in defending freedom or even basic standards of law and jurisprudence. I am not entirely unsympathetic to the right’s impotence: it suggests, at least, that it knows how horrible things will get if the atheist left does not return to objective and equally applied standards of law, does not stand down from the rebellion against legal norms. So leaders on the right and among Christian communities make shows of good will, which do not lead the left to live by objective standards of justice, but persuade it that its shrieking hysteria is winning. Historically, there are only three ways stability is restored when a culture has reached this level of division and volatility. Either the aggressors stand down their violent rhetoric and riots (very rare), society cracks down on the aggressors with sufficient vigor to put an end to the offenses and sufficient restraint to let them re-integrate into lawful behavior without triggering opposite abuses (rarely well-calibrated), or widespread violent strife or revolution comes, to be contained ultimately by some level of dictatorial power.

The aftermath of the attempted mass murder of Republican Congressmen on June 14 makes it almost certain we will go the way of widespread violent strife. It is not the shooting itself that clinches it, but the aftermath. Even the healthiest societies are subject to occasional atrocities and tragedies. When an atrocity comes, a healthy society quickly and forcefully unites to condemn the terror in unambiguous terms. We had a day of pro forma denunciations and then went back to business as usual. Worse, many on the left – and in the establishment media – suggested that seriously wounded Congressman Steve Scalise brought it on himself by being conservative. Joy Reid of MSNBC suggested it was his fault for being “racist.” She gave no examples of his racism, because there are none – but the left has re-defined racism to mean being conservative, regardless of one’s actual attitudes on race. CBS Anchorman Scott Pelley hideously suggested that Scalise’s wounds were “self-inflicted” because of the injection of violent rhetoric into the political system. The only example of violent rhetoric Pelley showed came from Bernie Sanders, not Scalise. The gunman was a far-left Democrat who had volunteered on Sander’s campaign for president. This was not just a smear, but an incoherent one. Leaders on the right did not steel themselves to demand that the left adopt a commitment to equal justice under law. Lois Lerner, who oversaw targeting of Christians and conservatives at the IRS is still free and collecting her pension. John Koskinen, who headed the IRS during this targeting – and publicly dared Congress to do anything about it – is still IRS Commissioner. I could go through a litany of leftist violence against Christians and conservatives, but suffice it to note that it has reached critical mass and has mainstream left-wing approval.

While the modern left shares all the intellectual deficiencies of its socialist antecedents, it lacks their low animal cunning. Oh sure, it has adopted Orwell’s Newspeak enthusiastically. Just as Lenin maintained that the truest form of democracy is the dictatorship of the proletariat, just as Stalin adopted a constitution that promised free speech, so long as it was “proper” speech – any other kind would get you a one-way ticket to Siberia if it did not get you shot, the modern left comically calls its fascist tactics “anti-fascism;” calls attacks on free speech, liberty; and calls the flouting of the law, justice. It has failed in a critical respect, though, that all its predecessors took great care in. Marat, Robespierre, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler and Mao all took great pains to cultivate substantial support in their countries’ military and police communities. They took great pains to heavily arm themselves while disarming the ordinary population. The modern left treats both the military and the police with open contempt and hostility. They have tried, ineffectively, to disarm the populace while ostentatiously disarming themselves. I am reminded of Casey Stengel’s forlorn lament about the incompetence of the ’63 New York Mets: “Don’t nobody here know how to play this game?”

The left’s agitation is like Peewee Herman trying to pick a fight with Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime: the suspense continues only so long as Arnold ignores Peewee. As soon as he engages the fight is over. I can only think the left believes ordinary people will turn out to be as flaccid in defending themselves as conservative and Christian leaders have been in defending them. The people’s restraint thus far does not mean they will submit to be ruled and bullied by progressive whim. The restraint has held in the forlorn hope that the leadership class would defend both them and American traditions. And so, a great battle will come. Though the left has been agitating for it, the right will prevail (though it will be bloodier than it ever had to be had leaders simply done the job of insisting that equal standards of justice apply to all). Under normal circumstances, a right-wing dictatorship would prevail, at least for a time. What I would fear under those circumstances is that bitterness and anger would so reign for a time that the right might mount similar or worse depredations to what the left has mounted. Yet for all the historical reality and imperatives, I remain an optimist. It is because I know and trust in God, the God who, for the sake of ten righteous people, would have saved Sodom.

At Fatima 100 years ago, Our Lady promised that, in the end, her Immaculate Heart will triumph, despite the terrible offenses that man keeps inflicting on himself in defiance of God. I have said all along that a primary purpose of this Storm has been to reveal hearts, to show where people actually stand in contrast to what they say. How terrible it is to see so many hearts being revealed to hold such malice and venom! Since the inauguration I have re-visited some of my interpretations of what I have been shown (and have had much instruction, which I will not discuss). My optimism sometimes veered into naievete. I assumed that, if Our Lord revealed the Kingdom to all by sending Our Lady to appear to us all, people would stand down from their errant defiance. The furious, irrational and unrelenting rage of the atheist left since the inauguration has disabused me of that notion. I should have known. I wrote of the great atheist naturalist, Emile Zola, and how when he was presented with compelling evidence of God’s goodness and willingness to intervene through a miracle, just doubled down on his rage and hate. He would not accept something greater than himself under any circumstances, even if it were to destroy him. I knew that, with the raising of the siege of Orleans in 1429, St. Joan of Arc reversed in a few days the conviction of 85 years, both by the English and the French, that France could not survive as in independent nation. After that victory, neither the French nor the English thought France could ever be defeated – a complete reversal of the conventional wisdom of the past century. Even so, the fighting lingered on for another 24 years after all involved had concluded that subjugating France was a lost cause. Watching the furious malice of the atheist left the first half of this year, I no longer expect them to accept the embrace of Christ even after they know that defeat is certain and continued defiance will destroy them. It is the pointless nihilism of the satan’s original rebellion – and he rejoices in taking so many to share in his needless destruction.

In all of these events, God is not just reclaiming us, but instructing us in what we are called to do and to be. Most of those who read this site have not been involved in the assaults on the faith or on the faithful. Yet we were called to be guardians of the faith and defenders of the faithful. We have failed badly in that call. What are some of the lessons God would have us internalize?

First, we need to banish the myth of the milquetoast Christ. Jesus was not always gentle and sweet – and He most emphatically did NOT approve of everyone as they are. He was quite frequently harsh and condemning to those who, out of lust for power or self-congratulatory self-righteousness oppressed the faithful and the little ones. Read the Gospels. Many have abused the universality of Christianity – that no ethnic, racial, national or other external characteristics would be a bar to full Christianity to mean that even avowed enemies of the faith must be enabled in their assaults on the faith and the faithful. The blood of Christ has not gone anemic. He defended His own against such assaults – and we are to do the same.

Even so, victory is not in our hands. Victory is in the hands of God and not dependent on our calculations. We are all called to defend the faith, hearten the faithful, and defend the faithful. When we take that next right step, we become like one of Gideon’s 300 chosen men (Judges 7), invulnerable against even a multitude. But God’s primary intention is the rescue of the souls of as many of His children as can be rescued. We will all be held to account for every depredation against the faithful that we could have stopped, but did not out of timidity. We will also be held to account for every soul we could have effectively evangelized, but did not out of anger. It is an impossible task that we will often fail in – but God’s grace will justify us so long as we keep our eyes on and our hearts in Him. We are called to be just, to judge righteous judgment with both charity and resolve.

There are three great examples I like to contemplate when considering how to behave in extreme, tumultuous circumstances. First is St. Joan of Arc. Usually, for an hour or more before she commenced battle, she would plead with the English to retreat, to save themselves and to be just. On the occasion when they fled, she was content to let them go. But if they had not retreated after her pleas, it was all hammer and tongs until the victory was won. After it was won, she took great care to see that the wounded enemies were well cared for. She fought with vigorous resolve, but entirely without malice. Abraham Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural Address is one of the most beautiful and noble speeches ever given. Lincoln pressed on with unshakeable resolve to win the war, but did it with malice towards none and charity towards all. His main aspiration was to re-unite the country as brothers, not to destroy the rebels as enemies. Finally, there is the Rev. Martin Luther King’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail. I cannot read it without misting up. It is the best instruction on how to resist evil without becoming the evil you resist I have ever read.

Do not fret about those good things you can’t do, lest you neglect the good you can. Don’t let either passion or apathy cause you to neglect the little good you can do, for such are the building blocks of God’s kingdom on earth. In short, play your position well, man your post, be it humanly little or grand. Acknowledge God, take the next right step and be a sign of hope to those around you.

A couple of years ago, I casually wrote a phrase I have come to cherish deeply. I wrote, As you look at your life, you cannot measure it by the books published, the soup kitchens worked, the refuges built-though if you 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 of God. All else is detail.” If we live this fully, God will seize the victory, for we will be a Godly people – and we will fully participate now as the heralds of the Triumph of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 213 Comments

Jesus: the WAY out of Every Storm, the TRUTH and the LIFE

(Thanks to our reader, Marisa, for nudging us on to part two of Msgr. Pope’s wisdom, so rich in this piece with reflection on storms. The very first lesson in this segment is rooted in the etymology of the word, “obedience,” something I discovered in recent years which reinforces Charlie’s constant exhortation to contemplate. How tempting it is, in our busyness and haste, to read and react when the reading and savoring, with contemplative silence, allows space to listen and, then, hear God.

While I have nodded at each lesson explicated by Monsignor, I especially find renewed hope in these gems from his writing:

“…while God has not allowed him [St. Paul] to be without trials and difficulties, He has always permitted those difficulties only so that a greater good be achieved. St. Paul has learned that God’s power reaches perfection in human weakness; it is able to stand in the gap. God can make a way out of no way and write straight with crooked lines.”

and 

“But as it always does so beautifully, Scripture shows how they must go through a process of sorts in order to achieve saving trust.”

and 

“Our faith is often tested in waiting. If we persevere, it grows stronger. Faith becomes the basis of truer and deeper healing than would just having a particular situation worked out.”

and

“It is as if the Lord is saying, “Do you see what a little trust can do? Keep growing in trust and you will see greater things. Try me in this; prove me in this!”

These are exactly the kinds of thoughts which will serve us well, and those around us, in the most challenging days yet to come in the Storm, as we live the ordinary way of TNRS. Together, with Our Lord, Our Lady, our local support group and this community here, we can do this.

Msgr. Pope includes a rendition of Willie Nelson’s “Stand by Me” at his blog – and please remember, you can access his blog by clicking on the title of his article. I’d like to give a shout out to our readers from all over the world with the version of “Stand by Me” here.

Two additional links:

*Another superb analysis by Victor Davis Hanson, here.

*If you scroll down here, at the Susan B Anthony List’s FB page, you can see Tucker Carlson interviewing David Daleiden.

Continuing in prayer with you, for our deeply troubled country and world, as we move forward, navigating these increasingly stormy waters of transition. Jesus remains with us at sea. He does. And He’s given us the Surrender Novena for those times when we are tempted to fearfulness, anxiety and despair. Each of us is actually the gatekeeper of our own thoughts. One brain researcher estimates that the average person has over 30,000 thoughts a day. Why should any of us give worry and anxiety a repetitive hearing which only activates the mental quicksand of sucking us into deeper darkness? We are a people of choice. We could choose to ruminate with a simple prayer, such as: “O Jesus, I surrender myself to You, take care of everything!” or a favored scriptural verse such as those highlighted by Msgr. Pope. Such aspirations are worthy of memorization to restore complete reliance on God, replacing ruminating ruts of fear with life-giving hope and courage in depressing, downtrodden or dicey times. Recall, too, the efficacy of the PMT in moments of great difficulty. Finally, consider bringing your most pressing needs to our TNRS community for intercessory prayer. We are here for one another: paddling, praying, pouring on encouragement, probing for insight, pulling each other up, and persevering in solidarity. We are blessed!  ~Beckita)

Overcoming Life’s Storms: A Teaching from St. Paul to Storm-weary Souls

 Msgr. Charles Pope • June 5, 2017

This is the conclusion of a post that I began yesterday. In the midst of a great storm (described in Acts 27), St. Paul finds himself among desperate and defeated people. Though the storm comes from nature, their problems are of their own doing and are rooted in a foolish refusal to listen to either natural warnings or God. All of this foolishness was described in yesterday’s post. Is there a way out of their situation? With God there is, but only by turning to Him in obedient faith. As long as we live, conversion is possible; things can change. Let’s consider how St. Paul, good pastor that he is, shepherds his doomed shipmates through the storm and to God, who can make a way out of no way. You can read the full text of Acts 27 here.

I. The Problem Described – Paul then came forward among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and should not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss.

So much of our trouble comes from our failure to listen to God, to obey Him. Of course God seldom speaks directly. He speaks through His revealed words, in the book of Creation, and most clearly through His Church in her defined teachings and dogmatic proclamations. Managing the weather is not usually among the Church’s dogmatic missions, but allow this storm to represent the moral and ethical storms that face an individual, a society, or a culture, that forsakes God and refuses to listen to His revealed truth.

The word obedience is related to hearing. The etymology of the word is said to be from ob (with or related to) + audire (to hear). Thus to obey is to listen with docility and compliance. Many if not most storms in our lives and in this world can be avoided if we just listen (obey). God laments, Thus says the Lord, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord, your God, teaching you how to prevail, leading you on the way you should go. If only you would attend to my commandments, your peace would be like a river, your vindication like the waves of the sea, Your descendants like the sand, the offspring of your loins like its grains, Their name never cut off or blotted out from my presence. … But there is no peace for the wicked, says the Lord (Isaiah 48:17-19,22).

II. The Prognosis Declared – I now bid you take heart; for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and lo, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we shall have to run on some island.”

St. Paul bases his prognosis that everything will be all right not on mere wishful thinking, but on the firm experience of God in his life. Paul’s experience has been that while God has not allowed him to be without trials and difficulties, He has always permitted those difficulties only so that a greater good be achieved. St. Paul has learned that God’s power reaches perfection in human weakness; it is able to stand in the gap. God can make a way out of no way and write straight with crooked lines. Paul has been in worse jams than this before! As he says, Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches (2 Cor 11:24-28).

Yet here he stands before them, not speaking as one who has never had trouble, but as one who has experienced being delivered from troubles. In effect, St. Paul is saying, “When you’re finished trying your gods, come and try mine. Stop telling your god how big this storm is and start telling this storm how big my God is.”

St. Paul also speaks based on the firm conviction (which God put in his heart) that he must and will appear before Caesar; therefore, he and his shipmates will make it to Rome.

Having tried everything else, and now chastened by their own foolishness, Paul’s shipmates finally seem to be willing to listen to him. But as it always does so beautifully, Scripture shows how they must go through a process of sorts in order to achieve saving trust. We can’t go from 0 to 100 immediately; we have to go through stages to get there.

III. The Process of Deliverance – Having secured their attention through suffering and their sense of helplessness, God, through the shepherd St. Paul, strengthens their meager faith.

Testing – When the fourteenth night had come, as we were driven up and down the sea of Adria, …

At first nothing seems to happen. The storm keeps blowing, the ship is adrift, the crew and passengers are seasick and unable to eat. What good is this faith to which St. Paul has summoned them? Yet Scripture says, I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:13-14). For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength” (Is 30:15).

Our faith is often tested in waiting. If we persevere, it grows stronger. Faith becomes the basis of truer and deeper healing than would just having a particular situation worked out.

Trying – … about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land. So they sounded and found twenty fathoms; a little farther on they sounded again and found fifteen fathoms. And fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let out four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come.

At midnight, when the night was perhaps darkest, there comes the sense that land is near. Having tried God, they now sense a change. The water is getting shallower; surely land is nearby. It is still too dark to see, but the evidence of a coming deliverance is beginning to mount.

We, too, start to get what we call “signal graces” in our journey of faith. Perhaps we see God rescuing someone else. Perhaps we hear the testimony of someone’s deliverance. It is like Jairus, who was on his way to ask Jesus to raise his daughter from deathly illness when he saw a woman healed merely by touching the hem of His garment. Perhaps some smaller blessings come our way. It is as if the Lord is saying, “Do you see what a little trust can do? Keep growing in trust and you will see greater things. Try me in this; prove me in this!”

Trusting – And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, and had lowered the boat into the sea, under pretense of laying out anchors from the bow, Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the boat, and let it go.

Ah, but some of the sailors—the ones most responsible for this mess—are stealthily trying to escape in a lifeboat that is just big enough for them. What cowards! St. Paul confronts them for their lack of faith and warns them that they and others with them will be lost. Faith is not just personal; it is also communal. Even if individuals in a dying culture have faith, it will not usually be enough. Faith has to grow in us all. If our very leaders exempt themselves from the sufferings that some of their own decisions have caused, they will surely be lost, and many of us along with them. Paul gives them a stern rebuke and warns of the consequences. Thanks be to God that his rebuke had the desired effect and they instead stayed at their posts.

So must we, especially the leaders among us such as priests and parents. Escape is appealing, but it shows cowardice. Although escape may win the moment, it seldom wins the day.

Toughening – As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing. Therefore, I urge you to take some food; it will give you strength, since not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.” And when he had said this, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves. (We were in all two hundred and seventy-six persons in the ship.) And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea.

They had found it difficult to eat and many were seasick, but they were going to need strength to get to shore.

So do we. We need food for the journey. The Lord gives it to us in the Holy Eucharist and in His Word. If we do not eat we will not be strong. Jesus reminded the Jewish people that God fed their ancestors in the desert and that if they had not eaten that food they would not have made it to the Promised Land. He said to them (and to us), This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh. … 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; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me (John 6:50-55).

These people in the storm needed strength to make it to the shore and so do we. The Eucharist is our viaticum (a Latin conflation meaning “I am with you on the way” = via+te+cum), our food for the journey.

Tenacity – Now when it was day, they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, on which they planned if possible to bring the ship ashore. So they cast off the anchors and committed themselves to the sea, at the same time loosening the ropes that tied the rudders; then hoisting the foresail to the wind they made for the beach. And striking a shoal they ran the vessel aground; the bow stuck and remained immovable, and the stern was broken up by the surf. The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any should swim away and escape; but the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their purpose. He ordered those who could swim to throw themselves overboard first and make for the land, and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship.

So here it comes. It’s all or nothing, but they’ve been getting ready for this! The text says that by casting off the anchors and anything that might hinder them (even though they were depending on it), they commit themselves to the sea and the wind. It’s all in God’s hands now, and the God of wind and sea drives the ship ashore. Some final courage is still necessary, however, as they must swim or float the final distance. We, too, must finally cast aside all that we are depending upon in this world and commit ourselves wholly to God; surely for our final journey, but even now in increasing degrees. Only God can save us from our foolish storms and from this hellish world with which we have compromised. Increasingly, we learn to cast everything aside and to lean on and trust Him entirely. This dying to self and the world can be frightening as we close the final distance and swim ashore.

Triumph – And so it was that all escaped to land.

Yes, here is the end of the story for all who respond to the call of faith: all escape the storm to land. Consider the foolishness that brought them into this storm, and then consider the wisdom and faith that brought them out.

A little lesson for us as individuals, for the Church, and for our soul-sick culture.

“… spread the effect of grace of Thy Flame of Love over all humanity…”

Posted in Encouragement, Prayer, Solidarity, The Storm, Trust | 156 Comments

Lessons in Weathering a Storm

(Once again, I reprint a piece, filled with insight and instruction, by Msgr Charles Pope. I do so having sought his permission to post his work. He does not endorse the prophetic elements here. This is an apropos piece, both as a spiritual examination when pondering the storms of life and as an assessment of the times in which we are now living. ~Beckita)

“And no small tempest lay on us …” – The Story of a Storm That St. Paul Endured and What It Has to Teach Us About Sin

Msgr Charles Pope – June 4, 2017

With yesterday’s feast of Pentecost, our reading of Acts suddenly ends and hence we miss some important stories of Paul’s journey to Rome. This is perhaps another reason to restore the Pentecost Octave, which was dropped in 1970. Doing so would give us eight more days in which to savor the Acts of the Apostles. Among the stories we miss is that of the storm and subsequent shipwreck of St. Paul, who was under armed guard while on the way to Rome. To make up for the loss to the lectionary, let’s consider the story here and learn its lessons. It is beefy enough to take two days to savor. Because this reflection is long, I’ve created a PDF of it (here) for you to print out and read later. I know that reading long posts on the screen can weary the eyes!

It is interesting that St. Luke devotes an entire chapter (27) of Acts to describing the storm at sea that St. Paul endured. The level of detail is high, signaling to us that such details are important. The Holy Spirit has something to teach us here about how we get into trouble and how we can get out of it.

Storms in life are often beyond our control. Perhaps they come from nature and the sudden vicissitudes of this world. Sometimes God permits storms in order to test and strengthen us. Sometimes, too, others drag us into storms and we suffer on account of their poor decisions. Some storms come from our own foolishness and poor choices.

In the story we are about to examine, St. Paul is dragged into a storm by the stupidity and poor choices of a military official and a ship’s crew. Paul was under arrest and being sent to Rome for trial before Caesar. Therefore, he was in the custody of a military officer. Of all the people in this storm, St. Paul is the only one who is innocent of the foolishness that made them endure it. In the end, only he can show the proper way out. The storm we are about to study shows in great detail what can happen to us as individuals and as an overall culture when we defiantly and proudly resist God’s will and common sense. This is a storm that has a lot to teach us about ourselves. Let’s look at a storm that Scripture calls a Euroclydon (a Nor’easter). You can read the full text of Acts 27 here.

I. The Coming Danger – God sends many warnings: from the natural order, from the Church, and in our own consciences. Note how often these are systematically ignored.

Whys and Wherefores – And when it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort, named Julius. And embarking in a ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica. The next day we put in at Sidon; and Julius treated Paul kindly, and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for.

St. Paul was under arrest and had appealed his case to Rome. He was put in the custody of a Roman centurion named Julius, who seemed a decent enough man but was a poor judge of both weather and the professional qualities of a ship’s captain. This appeal to Rome was Paul’s right as a Roman citizen. God had told him that he would testify in Rome and to have courage. Such words would be necessary for Paul to cling to, for he was about to be dragged into a very foolish journey by those who simply would not see the danger despite repeated warnings. This probably sounds familiar because it is of course part of our human condition to act foolishly and recklessly and refuse to recognize danger. It is also an unfortunate characteristic of our Western culture, which has steered us into a great oncoming storm.

Warnings And putting to sea from there we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were against us. And when we had sailed across the sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia. There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy, and put us on board.

So here are the initial signals of danger: the wind against them and a poor time of year to sail, chancy conditions at best. It was common in the winter months to stay off the Mediterranean and remain at port and to make longer journeys by land. The sea was very dangerous at this time of year and whatever sailing did take place was done very near the coast. Despite the danger signals, the centurion does not appear to be alarmed; he is determined to get the task done.

Worsening We sailed slowly for a number of days, and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go on, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea.

More danger signals! Now the centurion’s determination becomes defiance. This is typical of many a sinner. He sees the warnings but decides that he will not be just another statistic; he will be able to escape the dangers. Cultures think this way too. Defiance is the sad result of hearts that are growing hard and wills that are growing stubborn. With necks of iron and foreheads of brass, sinners sally forth and cultures set out on campaigns of self-destruction.

II. The Continued Defiance – In the verses that follow, there is quite the list of the elements of a poor and rash decision. Let’s see what Scripture teaches us about the diagnosis of a bad decision. Together, these elements contribute to a foolish defiance and a failure to heed warnings. There are five elements:

Precipitousness – As much time had been lost, and the voyage was already dangerous because the fast had already gone by.

In other words, they are at a critical time. The window for safe sailing, if it even still exists, is closing fast. It’s now or never! But hasty decisions—made more out of concern for time than what is wise or right—are usually poor ones. This is rampant in our culture today. Urgency seems to permeate most things. News crews love to create a sense of crisis and urgency. Suddenly everyone has opinions on what must be done … and quickly! Sob stories and other emblematic but highly selective crisis situations are put before us by the media and politically savvy organizations. Swift and draconian decisions are often demanded. Sometimes unhappy mobs protest and legislators respond by making hasty fixes to what are complex problems. Careful deliberation is underappreciated. There is a failure to recognize that rushing often leads to the development of poor “solutions.” But in our culture, most people follow the priority of the urgent more so than that of the important.

Preferring worldly wisdom Paul advised them, saying, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” But the centurion paid more attention to the captain and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said.

Yes, what does this religious zealot know about sailing or weather? Never mind that Paul had sailed before and had known rough seas and shipwreck. What does this preacher have to offer? The captain and the owner of the ship are the experts. Today, many say that the Church has nothing to offer, that priests cannot speak to marriage, family life, or sexuality; only scientists, doctors, and other professionals can really have anything valuable to offer. To be sure, all these experts do have much to offer, but it is dangerous to rely on them alone to set a course for this world. Worldly wisdom can still, at best, procure for us a worldly grave. True wisdom pierces the heavens and seeks the voice of God, who alone can save us. Disregarding the voice of faith is perilous indeed.

Passions PreferredAnd because the harbor was not suitable to winter in …

Now here is a serious issue as well. Too often we allow our passions to trump our better judgment. They want to risk the storm to get to a “nicer” port. They want to spend the winter in comfort and so they take foolish risks. Here, too, in an age dominated by an excessive need for comfort, many are willing to take terrible risks, make foolish decisions, go into debt, risk disease, and even act illegally. Some are willing to steal, use drugs, enter dangerous relationships, and the like. All for the hope of the comfort that such things might—just might—provide. Yes, our passions, individually and collectively, inspire a lot of bad decisions and lock us in defiant attitudes that refuse to recognize the obvious.

Populism … the majority advised to put to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, looking northeast and southeast, and winter there.

Yet another common problem is thinking that the results of a poll will always lead to the right decision; it will not. It will tell you what is popular but not necessarily what is right. Very often the crowds are wrong; they are not pooling their wisdom but their ignorance. Jesus warns, “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for thus their fathers treated the false prophets.” Today there is almost a religious demand that polls should direct all things. Many are practically indignant that the Catholic Church’s teachings do not reflect the views of the “most” Roman Catholics. But the Church does not exist to reflect the views of her members. She exists to reflect the views of her head and founder, Jesus Christ. At the end of the day, what is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular. Polls and votes are usually poor ways to discover what is right. And as we shall see, it is certainly not a good way to predict the weather!

Presumption And when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close inshore.

Very often, because there are not immediate negative consequences to a bad choice, people leap to the conclusion that they have decided well. In this instance, despite repeated warnings (from St. Paul) and the difficulties of sailing at a bad time of year (e.g., contrary winds and little progress possible), one breeze from the south causes them to presume that there will be no consequences. Presumption is a sin against hope. Hope is the confident expectation of God’s help in attaining eternal life. Presumption is taking something up ahead of time (pre (before) + sumere (to take up)). But who hopes for what he already has? Hence presumption tosses hope away on the pretext that one can get what one wants now, on one’s own terms. Those guilty of presumption think that no harm will ever befall them. The speeding teenager thinks he will never crash but then wakes up paralyzed. The drunk driver thinks he will never be caught but then sees the red flashing lights in his rearview mirror. The sexually promiscuous person boasts of having “safe-sex” but then contracts an STD. Just because consequences do not always happen immediately doesn’t mean that presumption is a good idea.

III. The Cost of Disobedience – Sin and disobedience are very costly. Satan promises ease, comfort, and pleasure today, but the bill comes due tomorrow! Let’s see what this storm teaches about the cost of sin. Five descriptions of the cost are given:

Control Lost But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land; and when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven.

St. Augustine famously taught regarding sin, For out of the perverse will came lust, and the service of lust ended in habit, and habit, not resisted, became necessity (Conf 8.5). Habitual sin leads to bondage, to a loss of control, to being driven. The first cost of sin and disobedience is the increasing loss of control, the increasing loss of freedom.

Crushing Labors And running under the lee of a small island called Cauda, we managed with difficulty to secure the boat; they took measures to pass ropes under the ship to hold it together; then, fearing that they should run on the Syrtis (sands of North Africa), they lowered the anchor, but were still driven.

We see that their defiant pride has now humbled them with heavy work, not just the work of sailing, but of even holding the boat together. Sin leads to heavy burdens. Consider the man who has been promiscuous and now sees his income drained by child support paid out to several different women. Consider the glutton who has gained 100 pounds and must now work for months, even years, to lose the weight. Consider the spendthrift who has run up the balance on his credit card and must now work for years to pay it off. Sin makes for crushing, burdensome work.

Compounding LossesAs we were violently storm-tossed, they began next day to throw the cargo overboard; and the third day they cast out with their own hands the tackle of the ship.

As already stated, sin and disobedience inevitably lead to dissipation. So now they are throwing their precious cargo overboard. Suddenly the riches of the world are not enough; they are now even part of the problem! Perhaps with us it is our money that is dissipated, or maybe our strength, or our health, or our family. But when you stay in sin and disobedience, you can expect the losses to compound.

Ceding Lights And when neither sun nor stars appeared for many a day, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned. … And fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let out four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come.

The ancients steered by the stars and the sun. This self-inflicted storm has darkened the lights. All the navigation points are lost, and the way back (out of sin) is difficult to find. Sin clouds our intellect and makes it difficult to see our errors, let alone the way back. Many people are in such darkness that they actually celebrate what God calls sin. How do some of us become so blind and confused? Yet another cost of sin and disobedience is a darkened intellect. St. Paul says, they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish minds were darkened (Romans 1:21).

Cowardly Leaping And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, and had lowered the boat into the sea, under pretense of laying out anchors from the bow, Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.”

So much for all the expert sailors, the captain, and the centurion, all of whom ignored Paul and the obvious warnings of a coming storm! Now they are seeking to jump ship, to escape in lifeboats and leave the passengers behind. So it is with many sinners today who seek to escape the consequences of their acts. Some escape to drugs and alcohol; some just hide or blame others. Rarer are the sinners who admit their fault and take responsibility for what they have chosen and done. In a therapeutic culture it is easier to blame others: “It’s not my fault; my mother dropped me on my head when I was two … I’m not depraved. I’m deprived.” A lot of this amounts to escaping in a lifeboat and leaving the others to experience the disaster. Where are the “experts” who gave us such awful advice during the sexual and cultural revolution? Most of them headed for the lifeboats and left the rest of us (who were foolish enough to listen to them) to go down with the ship.

Yes, the cost of sin and disobedience is high.

This storm really has a lot to teach us. It shows how easily we ignore the coming dangers and continue, in defiance, to make poor decisions. Then, it shows the costs of foolishness. Life really is a lot easier when we obey God!

But the storm is not done teaching us yet; God uses it to instruct us and to call us to discipleship. More on what St. Paul teaches tomorrow.

 

Posted in Prayer, Solidarity, The Storm, Trust, Uncategorized | 90 Comments

Liberty on Trial With Daleiden

 

François_Chifflart_Jeanne_d'ArcBy Charlie Johnston

If you want to infuriate a Christian conservative, tell a scurrilous lie about him. If you want to infuriate an anti-God leftist, tell the truth about him – then prove it.

The anti-God leftists who make up the abortion industry and their media and government enablers are furious with David Daleiden, who captured on videotape evidence that they are illegally trafficking in dismembered baby parts for profit. Unfortunately for Daleiden, he lives in California, which has become the epicenter for corrupted justice, corrupted judges, and corrupted public officials. California has become an ongoing criminal enterprise, run by the elite for the elite. He and his investigative partner, Sandra Merritt, were charged by California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra with 15 felony counts for taping abortion officials speaking in particularly loathesome fashion at a National Abortion Federation (NAF) Conference two years ago.

Over the course of the last two years, both Daleiden and Merritt have become friends of mine. The Kafkaesque persecution of Daleiden and his allies in this same time frame is a primer for how the anti-God left has perverted and undermined the legal system. They

merritt-daleiden

Sandra Merritt and David Daleiden (circa.com)

have weaponized the law, using it to systematically deny conservatives and Christians of basic civil liberties and punish any who challenge leftist nostrums or reveal leftist offenses. They have used the very language and forms of law to gut it of its substance, which is to provide equal justice under dispassionate standards applied objectively to all. Most often, leftist officials have abused the platform of their position to ignore or deny the plain language of objective law. They have relied on the establishment media to act as their unwavering propaganda arm in this effort.

 

The video evidence that Daleiden captured is so damaging to Planned Parenthood (PP), the big dog of the abortion industry, that it has mounted several subordinate lies to try to discredit the evidence, depending on their supporters to believe whatever they say rather than review actual evidence. Let’s dispense with a couple of these lies at the outset.

  • PP constantly refers to the videotapes as heavily edited. If they mean that subtitles have been added to facilitate understanding what is said, they are correct. But what they want people to assume is that the videos have been doctored in a misleading way. Incorrect. Daleiden typically released full unedited copies of the videos along with the edited versions, which include subtitles and edit out long periods where there is no substantive discussion, to show that he had not doctored anything. A forensic review by the respected cybersecurity firm, Coalfire Systems, revealed that the videos are authentic. Planned Parenthood’s own examiner, Fusion GPS, a Democratic opposition research firm, concluded that there was “no evidence that the anti-abortion group behind the attack made up dialogue,” and that there was no “widespread evidence of substantive video manipulation.” Disappointed but undaunted, PP just said there was anyway. Compliantly, the establishment media reported PP’s spin while ignoring the objective evidence.
  • PP loves to tell people that a Texas grand jury investigated and exonerated it of any wrong-doing. To the contrary, a grand jury WAS empaneled in Harris County (Houston), Texas to investigate PP. But almost immediately, the Asst. District Atty. (ADA) who presided over it refocused it to investigate Daleiden – and collaborated as a partner with PP attorneys to pervert the purpose of the grand jury. The local PP attorney confirmed the collusion – and after the revelation, the DA’s office dropped the charges. The sitting DA was later turned out of office and the offending ADA was then fired. The ADA who presided over this grand jury, Sunni Mitchell, was also the ADA who no-billed an indictment against Douglas Karpen, sometimes called the “Kermit Gosnell of Texas,” despite eyewitness testimony and video evidence that Karpen had routinely executed live-born infants who had survived an abortion attempt. Actual independent investigations by the US House of Representatives and the US Senate have resulted in 22 criminal referrals against PP and its alleged partners in the illegal trafficking of baby body parts for profit. These investigations included, but were not limited to, supporters of PP.

At issue now are videos from the NAF Conference in California two years ago. Almost immediately after realizing that Daleiden had video footage from that conference, NAF went to court seeking an injunction to prevent the footage from being released. Federal

JudgeWilliamOrrick

Judge William Orrick (lifenews.com)

Judge William Orrick granted that injunction in his San Francisco court almost two years ago. He did so without disclosing that he was a former attorney for PP. Judicial ethics indicate that he should have recused himself or disclosed the fact and obtained waivers from attorneys from both sides to allow him to continue. And so the videos remained consigned to the censors – until California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra used this video footage as the basis for charging Daleiden with 15 felony counts. All citizens have the right to defend themselves and publicly confront their accusers – and this superceded the civil injunction. Daleiden’s attorneys, Steve Cooley and Brent Ferreira, put the videos up on their website after they had already been released in filings by the San Francisco Superior Court. Judge Orrick and NAF were outraged. They demanded that the videos be taken down and threatened Daleiden, Merritt, and the attorneys with contempt of court proceedings. Threats were even made to independent media outlets that did not immediately take the videos down. This was treated more seriously and with greater resolve than the release of the Pentagon Papers by Daniel Ellsburg in the ’70s or the release of classified material by Edward Snowden a few years back. Not threatened with contempt proceedings were Becerra, who used the verboten videos as the basis of his prosecution or the San Francisco Superior Court through which the videos were released. They are apparently exempt because they constitute some of PP’s governmental muscle.

 

During the brief period when the videos were publicly available, it became clear why it was so important to NAF and its governmental allies that these not be seen by the general public. They show that Kermit Gosnell is not the exception, but the rule among abortionists. The footage seemed to come from a serial killers’ convention rather than an association trade show, as speakers and attendees laughed and joked about cutting themselves on skull fragments, eyeballs rolling into their laps, and offering tips on how best to dismember the child before it is fully born, notably by ripping off a leg or two. They even revealed that they don’t believe their own propaganda that a fetus is not human, recognizing that they were violently killing human beings. National Review’s Alexandra deSanctis, perhaps anticipating that NAF and its governmental enablers would leave no stone unturned to get these videos taken down everywhere, wrote down some of the notable moments from the videos in this piece – and as of this writing, is one of the few places which still has an intact copy of the preview video still available. It is gruesome, made more so by the jolly good cheer and candor with which the participants speak of such unspeakable things. Many have wondered how ordinary German citizens could possibly have remained silent, knowing of the death camps around them. Looking at these videos and our collective inaction, now we know – and we don’t even have the excuse of a Gestapo threatening to shoot us if we speak up.

The videos were originally put under a gag order because release of them might endanger the safety of the participants who were revealed in the footage. When you are captured on tape speaking and acting in ways that are loathesome and vile, I suppose that could endanger you. But the cause of it is not the person who caught you; it is that you behaved in a loathesome and vile manner in the first place. Unfortunately, leftist officials are getting in the habit of punishing whistleblowers rather than the perpetrators of the ugliness that whistleblowers reveal. At Evergreen College in Washington State, an unruly student mob was captured on tape threatening violence to a professor who had displeased them. Instead of using the videotape to find and punish members of the mob, Evergreen President George Bridges promised to find who made the videotape so he could bring criminal charges against them, the whistleblowers.

A quick synopsis, then, of where things stand. Two years ago, pro-abortion activist William Orrick used his judicial position to issue a gag order on the videos because the abortionists language was so toxic it might endanger their safety if people saw what they really think. Earlier this year, Cal. Atty. Gen. Becerra used the banned videos to file

becerra

Xavier Becerra (fox5sandiego.com)

criminal charges against Daleiden. He uses a statutory interpretation that has never been used against any other undercover journalist in California, though a multitude have used the same methods as Daleiden. Becerra is free to use the evidence to prosecute, but Daleiden is not allowed to use the same evidence to defend himself. The old Soviet show trials had nothing on Orrick and Becerra.

 

Orrick is no stranger to issuing rulings that have no grounding in the Constitution, statutory law or Supreme Court precedent. He is part of the vanguard of leftist judges who make it up as they go along, not acting as judges, but using judicial power to act as unaccountable muscle for left-wing priorities. Although offenses against the system of objective law come almost exclusively from left-wing officials, the center and right have responsibility, too. They have the authority to check such abuses, but shrink from the confrontation. During the civil rights movement a half-century ago, some southern states systematically deprived a certain class of citizens of basic civil rights because of their ethnic background. The federal government stepped in to enforce the law. Now a class of citizens are being systematically deprived of basic civil rights because of their political and religious beliefs. They are even being punished for daring to complain of the mistreatment. Before his confirmation, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch criticized Donald Trump for publicly criticizing a judge. I am not offended by a certain amount of institutional tribalism, but the corollary is that leading authorities must weed out those who abuse their authority and make it up as they go along. Until officials are held to account for depredations against citizens who merely disagree with them, we have ceased to be a democratic republic. In short, if judges are going to act contemptibly, their courts will be regarded with contempt. That undermines the very consensus that stabilizes our society. The first job of public officials is to defend our liberty, all of us, not to augment their position and power.

I began contemplating in the late ’80s whether the American founders had not actually solved the problem of volatility in democratic republics, but merely postponed the onset of decay. (Democracies have historically been one of the most unstable forms of government possible, usually degenerating into chaos and terror within a decade or two). I was surprised to find that the founders were generally more pessimistic about the staying power of our system than I am. Thomas Jefferson thought a revolution would be needed every few generations – and believed that the biggest flaw in the American Constitution was that it did not provide adequate safeguards against creeping judicial supremacy. On September 17, 1787, the day the Constitutional Convention closed in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin spoke his approval saying that he expected the proposed government would be “well administered for a course of years and can only end in despotism, as other forms have before it, when the people shall become…corrupt.”

Because of lethargy, we do not demand accountability from rogue officials. As W.B. Yeats said in his old poem, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

Make no mistake, though. While it is Daleiden who will appear in the docket, it is all of us and our liberty who will be his phantom co-defendants.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Christian Persecution, Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 136 Comments

Sherpa School Savvy

(Edit 6/3/17: Obviously, I’m still brushing up my managing editor skills, Friends. I have realized by one comment, it is not totally clear that the “Lessons of a Pilgrim” comprise Charlie’s reflection of his pilgrimage he began in 2011. You can read more of his writing from the days of his journey here.)

We have been in a process of being prepared for the Storm, in particular ways, since the inception of this site and each time I review the archives, something new captures my attention. For the last 6 weeks, I’ve been rereading again and with purpose: to gather the timeless golden oldies and bring them to our community to reconsider and ponder, for Charlie has prepared us well with great care and love.

In a period of uneasy peace, such as we have had, there’s possibility for temptation to, perhaps, become sleepy or to wish for a magical resolution to this current misery while God’s Plan continues to unfold in His Providence and He ever invites us to work with Him. I often remember Dennis Prager’s piece, published four days after the inauguration, in which he soundly named an ultimate challenge in this country:

There will be unity only when the left vanquishes the right or the right vanquishes the left. Using the First Civil War analogy, American unity was achieved only after the South was vanquished and slavery was abolished.

And in looking out on the greater world from inside our own national problems, we see waves slapping and crashing, everywhere, with increasing furor. So let us begin our review, Friends, with God and His Plan as our focus and the Head Sherpa as our guide, once again, that we may hone our mental readiness as we continue to acknowledge God, take our next right steps and allow Him to shine in us as His Hope in a dark and weary world.

Lessons of a Pilgrim

By Charlie Johnston

A few lessons I learned from my pilgrimage that may be helpful to you in the trials ahead…

The Unknown is Scary. Despite my jaunty confidence before leaving, I was scared. I have serious neurological damage that was supposed to leave me partially paralyzed on my right side, but just left me in constant pain. Privately, I thought friends who thought I was going to be badly hurt or killed out there had an excellent point. Early on I was afraid of the animals that would come sniffing around me at night; I was afraid every morning of not being able to find suitable cover that night; I feared inclement weather; I worried about being attacked by other people.

We are More Adaptable Than You Think. Eventually, I learned to tell the animal by the noise it makes coming through the brush (the louder they are, the less dangerous they are). I learned that when you get soaked, you get dry again – and I got to be really good at knowing how the weather was going to turn by various signs and smells in the air. Thank God my first few months were through the south, where greenery and good cover are lush and abundant. I learned over time how to camp undetected within the midst of urban areas and within feet of where people were walking. A couple of times when cougars woke me up coming into my camp at night, after they recognized me and ran off, I just went back to sleep.

Misery is not as Miserable as We Imagine It. When people asked me what I would do when it rained, I loved to smile and casually say, “Usually, I get wet.” Not so bad, but if you didn’t have good cover and it was cold, spending a night shivering and wet is really no fun. But you get warm and dry again. Waking up with frost in your hair and eyebrows, with your water bottles frozen solid is, well, a bracing experience. You can’t lay around. Get up and get moving. Get that circulation going to thaw out your feet so you can feel them again. Later on, when I hit over a hundred days of temperatures over 100 degrees, I HATED having to drink hot water out of my bottles…and I hated the salty sweat that, no matter what I did, got into my eyes and made them burn as I walked. But oh! how good it was to get a fountain soda after a hard day’s walking in the heat – and how sad it was not to come upon any little store after the same type of hard day. Creek and river water are fine – it often kept me going – but a fountain soda after a hard day’s walk is nirvana. The multitude of hardships were not as difficult as you think, but made the little pleasures much more delightful.

We Cling to What We Know. In the year and a half before I left, as I divested myself of just about everything of the few things I had, the hardest was my library of books I had read. Though I gave away a lot individually, I still had about 1,300 books, going back to when I was in high school. Oh, was I attached to them. After I left with nothing, (literally $50 in my pocket), I thought I was really living detachment. But it is hard and scary not knowing where you are going to sleep each night, not knowing if you’ll get anything but trail mix to eat that day. When I would find a place that was really comfortable, well-protected with great cover, I would not want to leave. Seriously, a nice clearing in dense woods close to civilization would get me thinking I had found a home. I laughed to realize that when you have nothing, a clearing in the deep woods can become the subject of your ardent desires and covetousness. But when each day you choose to venture into the further unknown, you find yourself wanting to cling to the littlest comforts. Sometimes I would stay a day or two, but that’s all. I learned something about detachment along my way.

Keep Moving. Even when you have nothing, what you know is so much easier and soothing than what you don’t. Don’t let it beguile you. Keep moving. In Mississippi, I sprained my ankle. It is tough slogging carrying 75 lbs. on your back with a sprained ankle. But if you want to eat, if you want to make progress, you gotta keep moving. For a week and a half I limped along…couldn’t bear to go more than five miles in a day. But I kept moving. Your goal is ahead of you, not behind you. If you go back, it is too easy to lose sight of your goal or to get comfortable and lose heart. Keep moving.

Learn to Receive With Gratitude and Grace. Early on a young couple with their toddler picked me up and gave me a ten-mile ride. We shared our stories. They were saving up to pay the electric deposit so they could move into a trailer and out of his Mom’s house. When they dropped me off, he tried to slip me a five-dollar-bill. I refused and told him to put it towards the deposit on his electricity. I will never forget the crestfallen look on his face when I refused. I never did that again. People hate being played, but there is almost a desperate need for the glow of helping another when you know you are not being played. After that, I never refused the spontaneous kindness of strangers. If someone went overboard, I would scale them back, but otherwise, I received with grace. I wrote little articles for an online studio on my laptop at libraries. The pay was tiny and often I could not find a library…so I was sometimes raggedly self-supporting and deeply in need at others. The little kindnesses came in handy – and on a few occasions a friend bailed me out when I had gone too many days without food. Sometimes, the only gift you can give is to receive with grace – and how good it feels to give to a joyful receiver. I realized what good it did others when a young man gave me ride in far western Alabama over the border into Mississippi. He had seen me in the library the previous day and was, himself, going into Meridian to try to get work. He had been in jail for three months and was broke, except for the gas he had in his car – but hey, another passenger didn’t cost anything. I was profoundly grateful I had enough money on my cash card to get both him and me breakfast at McDonald’s. At first, he didn’t want to accept my charity, but he grinned when I reminded him how grateful I was for his charity to me. And he was hungry. Middle class people usually know how to give with grace, but their pride often prevents them from accepting with the same grace, In Christianity, we are to care for each other as loving brothers and sisters. Sometimes we are in need; sometimes we can fill a need. If you don’t know how to receive with grace, discipline yourself to learn – for in the times ahead, you will sometimes be a giver and sometimes a receiver. And sometimes, the greatest gift you can give is to receive with graceful gratitude.

Expect the Unexpected. I had a general route I was following, but several times events changed it in minor ways. A few times, it was disrupted and changed in major ways. You have to live fortitude with flexible muscles. I knew where I began and what my ultimate destination was. That’s pretty much it – along with my basic direction. Do not quibble with God just because it turns out that your plan is not precisely what His plan is. Give thanks and keep moving.

If You Really Need Help, Ask a Poor Man. I had a few middle class people who were kind to me or invited me to stay with them a day or two. I had one man who turned out to be quite wealthy who gave me shelter for a few days. But for the most part, it was the people in rattle-trap old cars and trucks who would stop to check on me and help me along my way. A sad commentary, but a true one.

God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle. Thanks to my sister, Kim, for putting this into words for me. The great evil of our time, the one that has gotten us here, is that we believe we are sufficient to ourselves. We are not. So sometimes, in His love, God puts us in situations we can’t handle in order to force us to trust Him. What a blessing it is! It teaches us how little our efforts ultimately amount to while vastly growing our confidence in God’s providence – which, again, often does not look like what we thought or planned.

Grace is Where You Find It. Be Open. Two of the most touching kindnesses were shown me by homeless people – a young woman in San Antonio and an older man in Oak View, California. People’s hearts want to reach out to each other. Live so you encourage the reaching.

Trust God. I encountered many perils along the way; twice threatened with knives, once with a gun. In the beautiful wilderness, I was usually gnawingly hungry and terrified each day I would not find another stream in which to keep my water fresh. Once, near the end, I had gone four days without food and was eating plants. A friend put some money on my card. When I finally came near a small restaurant, my mouth was watering for a half mile out. The next three restaurants I went to refused to take any money from me. I thought, ironically, that had I known that was going to happen I would not have gotten so hungry to begin with. And then I thought, it’s God’s gracious little way of telling me, “My grace is sufficient for you.” And so it is for us all. We will all soon be on pilgrimage. It is the beginning of our reclamation, not our destruction.

“… spread the effect of grace of Thy Flame of Love over all of humanity…”

Posted in Encouragement, Pilgrimage Journal, Preparation, The Storm, Trust | 55 Comments

The Next Right Counterstep to Being Offended

In the last month, I’ve been rereading the archives of this site for there is a trove of wisdom tucked into Charlie’s posts, replies and the NRSteppers’ comments which follow. These gems deserve to be remembered, providing encouragement as well as gentle prodding to stay awake and be ready, for the events and circumstances in which we find ourselves bespeak that, sooner rather than later, this Storm will hit its heights.

As we paddle and pray in the ubiquitous division of this phase, a recent piece by Fr. Dwight Longenecker caught my attention. Disunity seems present in every layer of life and Father writes about one division driver:

Maybe I’ve spent too much time on Facebook, but why is everybody so darned offended all the time? Traditionalist Catholics are constantly getting on their high horse. Then it’s the feminist and homosexualists who are stomping off in high dudgeon. Next it is the Liberals or the Eastern Orthodox or the Lutherans or the college students or the environmentalists.

You name it. Everybody everywhere seems to be the hurt, offended victim. Why is this? It’s because of the dictatorship of relativism. You see, if there is no such thing as truth, then the only “truth” you have is “your truth” and, of course, if the only truth you have is “your truth” then you’re going to feel threatened by other people’s “truth.”

Father, then, addresses the root and solution:

This presents the next problem with the dictatorship of relativism. If there is no such thing as truth and there is only “your truth” then what is that “truth” based on? It can only be based on two things: sentimentality and ideology.

Sentimentality means your truth is based on your feelings. I feel like this is bad and I feel like that is good. I feel like this is nice. I feel like this is not nice. There is no logic, no reasoning, no discussion. There is nothing to base the truth on but raw emotion.

Of course people can’t live like that for long. Its too exhausting. One needs some sort of structure or belief system in order to survive. We must live in a world we believe to be rational.

The only answer to this is the One who said he is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

True allegiance to Christ the King puts everything else into perspective. Most of all it puts each one of us in perspective. With a touch of grace we see ourselves as we really are and we see our place in the wider plan and we realize that we do not need to be offended all the time.

We have confidence in Christ the Lord, and in him we can start to live with a bit of dignity, a sense of humor–a softer heart and a tougher skin.

This brought to mind another precipitator of division which our dear Mother Ellen Neufeld wrote about in Betrayal or Trust. If you find yourself, or those with whom you share life, beset with feeling betrayed, misunderstood, or rebuffed, Mother Ellen’s article is well worth a read and share. She reminds us:

Only forgiveness can stop the whirlwind of betrayal and vengeance; only forgiveness can extinguish the flaming tree of rage. Peter was able to trust the forgiveness of God after he denied Jesus at His trial, while Judas rejected the possibility of forgiveness and restoration due to his lack of trust. Only if we truly trust in God’s love and healing can we begin to forgive and let go of our hurt and anger.

Charlie introduced Mother Ellen’s piece by recounting this event, bearing gospel wisdom:

Late in the 90’s, in one of my little visions – a stylized type that always ends with a pithy angelic comment – I was told, “Betrayal comes from one you love and trust. Begin to offer reparation for him now.” It was striking to me I was not told to defend myself against it, but to pray for the one from whom it would come.

SO much and SO many for whom to pray in these days of loving while we serve as sherpas, living the ordinary way, acknowledging God and taking those next right steps while allowing God to make of us a sign of His Hope as we wait in great and blessed expectation for Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart to fully triumph.

Posted in Uncategorized | 76 Comments