A Meditation on Joseph

I repeat today a piece I put up a little over a year ago. It has been calling to me for repeat. It has been a busy week or so in Iowa and now in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I have been thinking a lot about contemplation the last few weeks. I often don’t answer direct questions here. We are too superficial in our thinking these days. We think if we just got more

green-bay-lambeau-field

In front of Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I had deep-fried cheese curds at the restaurant inside and got my Dad a Bart Starr jersey – the football hero of his younger days.

information, we would understand. A small child is focused on his own wants and appetites and often has trouble seeing beyond that. As he gets older, if his formation is healthy, he looks beyond himself more – because he contemplates more what he sees. The reason I often do not answer some questions is because some things are for information, others for contemplation. In some cases, giving more information would be like trying to pour 10 ounces of water into an eight-ounce cup. Yet a man is not a cup. His potential for wisdom is not finite, he can expand it. The way he expands it is through contemplation, meditation – working to look through the eyes of another, working to see the consequences that must follow from a decision. Like Mary, we are called to ponder things in our heart so our wisdom may grow.

 

I left the preface to this piece intact below. It is still, timely, I think. I hope that, during Thanksgiving week, I will be able to get an article a day up – including a meditation on the election and our call to holiness and purity by Dan Lynch. For now, I leave you with this piece. It is NOT private revelation. It is a deep meditation. That is how it should be read – and I wish it would encourage you to enter deeply into the lives of Biblical figures and the saints, to go walk with them, live with them in your mind and heart for a time and contemplate how their lives were lived on a daily basis. From that, you can begin to see with the eyes of heaven. If you object that some aspects of this story are contrary to your favorite private revelation, you will really miss the point.

Joseph’s Way

(Dream of Joseph - Rembrandt)

By Charlie Johnston

(I have been thinking a lot about obedience this last week. Throughout the world, the legitimacy of authority has been tumbling – and it has set people into confusion. The top officials of the American government are the most determined enemies of its founding principles and Constitution. I do not regard the American government as having legitimacy any more – and I think a lot of people have come to the same conclusion. In Europe, confidence in the legitimacy of the European Union is collapsing at breakneck speed. In the Middle East, there is no authority, just roving bands of rival Jihadist warlords. A cancer is eating away at the legitimacy of those who hold power throughout the world – and rational people throughout the world are withdrawing their consent to be governed by power-mad progressive and regressive forces.

This has led to rebellion against even that which is legitimately constituted. I have been appalled lately to see how quickly seemingly faithful Christians are ready to condemn the Church’s structure as illegitimate. I do not speak here of disagreeing with particular decisions or procedures, but of taking the drastic step of withdrawing consent to be governed by its legitimate authority. An entity can be wrong without forfeiting its authority. I have often disagreed with American policy through my life – but this is the first time I have ever rejected it as illegitimate. I am terrified to see so many raising their voices against the legitimacy of Church authority. There has been no break on doctrine. So what animates it?

In Christianity, obedience is not the submission of the lesser to the greater. If that were so, how could it be that, after the temple, Jesus went up and was obedient to His parents? Rather, it is a means of opening channels of grace. Authority is bound to consider carefully and issue direction from just and righteous grounds, without taint of self-interested motives. Those bound by authority are bound to obey legitimate orders, even as they maintain the right to a fair hearing in critique of those orders. If authorities fail their duty of diligence in issuing direction, the subordinate may sanctify them by obedience and respectful critique. If the subordinates are disobedient, the authority can sanctify them by the care with which they approach their own duty. We open up channels of grace for each other.

I am contemplating this that I may write in some depth about it. But today I offer something different. I wrote the fictional story that follows in the late 90s. It is a story about promise, trust and obedience – a meditation. It was the first of what will eventually be 20 such meditations, each attached to a Decade of the Rosary. I will not finish all of it until after the Rescue. As it happened, though St. John Paul had not yet proclaimed the Luminous Mysteries when I wrote this, once he did, I knew that this is a meditation on the First Luminous Mystery – the Baptism at the Jordan.)

Joseph’s Way

 

The true son of true God was

adopted by a man, that all men

might truly be adopted by God.

Taking on our humanity He gave us a

share in his divinity. And so, we are

become a new race – sons and

daughters of the living God.

I: In His Father’s Tent 

“Why must the girls marry the old men? Most like the young men better.”

Jacob’s right hand twitched; the chisel in it jumped and nicked the fleshy pad in his left. His son’s voice startled him. Save for the scraping of the wood, the tent had been silent all morning. He looked up from his bench and glared at his son. No use. Joseph was planing boards at the far end of the tent, his back to the father. Jacob’s beard lifted in wry amusement. His enigmatic son says something interesting – and does it with his back turned. How appropriate.

“Are you thinking you’d like to be married, then?” the father asked, his lips pursing to suppress his mirth.

Joseph kept planing.

“No, Father,” he said. “I just thought…well, we all laugh and play together as children, then the girls are gone. They enter the house of an elder and we don’t speak any more. It must be…fearful. And maybe lonely for them.”

Jacob was thunderstruck. How to respond to this outpouring?

“You’ve an eye for beauty, Joseph. Perhaps one of your childhood friends will bear a daughter who will be ripe when it is your time.”

Jacob knew immediately it was a silly, stupid thing to say, but he could think of nothing else.

Joseph was silent. There were many boards yet to plane today. Jacob watched his son’s back for a moment, then took up his chisel and turned back to his work. It was not until late in the day that the raspy rhythm of chisel and plane was broken again.

“I saw a woman stoned,” Joseph said.

Jacob looked up, amazed again, but wary now. “An adulteress?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“That is our law, handed down from Moses.”

“It was horrible,” Joseph said, his back still to his father. “She was all purple and bleeding, pleading for mercy. But there was no mercy there. Can this be what God intends?”

He turned to his father, eyes full, a hint of tremor on his lips. His hands kept to the wood.

Jacob’s left hand lay flat on the workbench, his right clenched a fist around the chisel. His eyes were steady and fixed on his son.

“Who was she taken with?” he asked.

“A friend of her childhood. She was barely 14.”Stoning-Bible

Understanding dawned. The father closed his eyes and lowered his head. When he lifted it again his gaze was penetrating and clear.

“Did the three of you once laugh and play together?” he asked his son.

Joseph turned back to his work. He had overplaned this board. It was ruined. Jacob saw it, too.

“Gather the wood scraps together now and take them to your grandfather,” Jacob said. “It will be cold tonight.”

“But Father, I have ruined this board. I must…”

“You must take the wood scraps to your grandfather.” Jacob’s voice was low, even gentle, but it compelled obedience. “The sun will soon set. There will be time enough tomorrow to correct your errors.”

The father turned back to his work as the son gathered together the scraps. Jacob worked late that night, pausing occasionally to examine with wonder the single misshapen board his son’s meticulous hands had ever formed.

II: The Coming of the Ark

 

Until his world crashed, Joseph had been preoccupied with a fantastic dream. Six times it had come, every third night these last few weeks.

It always began in a tent; a tent like his father’s, but not his father’s. Joseph was alone, doing detail work with the chisel – the sort his father always did. It was magnificent work; impossibly rich ebony, finely filigreed and ornate, more beautiful and delicate than any he had ever seen. He was lost in the work, intent on each detail when the tent began to fill with a brilliant, gently pulsing light. Turning around, he looked into the eyes of a lean, sinewy man of about 30 (his own age) who, nonetheless, bore the flowing, white beard of a patriarch. He somehow knew this to be Moses. Behind Moses was a box; the sort in which a queen might keep her most precious jewel. It was simple, yet beautiful: olive wood rubbed and oiled, inlaid with a pale blue ivory. Joseph went to it and knelt in wonder, astonished at this unlikely source of bright, throbbing light that yet did not blind. Unable to take his eyes from it, he asked, “Is this the Ark?”

“Guard it well,” Moses replied. Then Joseph would awaken. The dream should have come again last night. It might have, had Joseph slept at all. Mary came instead. It was late afternoon and Joseph was surprised to see her. It was not yet time for her to come into his house so he seldom saw her alone. She delivered the blow with a gentle, almost playful, smile.

“I am with child,” she said.

Joseph was sure he had not heard her correctly but was so confused he could say nothing at all.

“I am with child,” she repeated.

His mind raced. How can this be? Why is she smiling? Is she taunting me? No, she never taunts. He finally asked, “Who is the father?”

“Pray and you will know,” she replied, and then was gone. Joseph had never felt so alone, so forsaken, so completely and utterly crushed. And yet…that smile. Mary was not upset, certainly not frightened. In truth, she seemed joyful. How could she be joyful about such devastating news?

Joseph had long ago dismissed the idea of marriage. After witnessing a stoning he had dedicated himself, body and soul, to God, in reparation for all those without mercy and as an offering for all those in need of it. He would never have thought to court Mary. She was the most beautiful, graceful and refined woman in all of Galilee. Except for yesterday, she had never failed to bring a measure of joy to everyone she encountered, whenever she encountered them. There was an air of mystery about her; wisdom and peace flowed from some secret place in her that Joseph doubted anyone had ever penetrated. Yet she could be bold. It was Mary who told Joseph she wanted him to be her husband. After his initial shocked wonder, he delicately explained to her that he had entirely dedicated himself to God.

“So have I,” Mary replied almost gaily – and that was that. They were betrothed.

Joseph wondered what God could possibly intend for him with this humiliation. Though he had felt called from his youth to be a husband and father, he had renounced it for the sake of mercy, putting it entirely out of his mind. When Mary came to him, he thought surely God had sent her. How likely was it that any woman, much less this magnificent woman, should both love him and share his mission? And now this. What should he do?

A vision of Mary, purple and bleeding, flashed through his mind, filling him with horror and revulsion. dream-of-st-josephHe would not accuse her. He would never accuse anyone. But he could not take her into his home. A quiet bill of divorce – that was surely the answer. He would appear to be the scoundrel and she might have difficulty finding a husband, but she would not be put to shame.

Preparing to make his evening prayers, Joseph remembered Mary’s smile; her confidence and joy. So instead of asking why, he cried out, “O God, my God, what do You intend for me in this horrible situation?’

Nearby, the Angel of the Lord waited for sleep to overtake Joseph. The Angel had a message of supreme importance; news that what Joseph thought was an ending was, in fact, a beginning.

III: God With Us

 

Although he was glad to have found it when and where he did, Joseph would long be troubled by the memory of the wood.

It irritated him to have to travel when Mary’s time was so near. He found no work along the way; his tools were just an extra burden for the donkey. When Mary’s time did come, he was prepared. He had expected it to happen on the road. He had not expected to be unable to find a place for them to stay. Joseph was beginning to think the child would be born in a field when they came upon an old cattle shed. Joseph could not see how it kept the cattle in; it certainly would not keep the elements out. He had thought to use a manger as a makeshift cradle for the child, but there was none. Piles of hay were scattered indiscriminately about the floor. His heart sank. For a moment Joseph was overwhelmed by his own inadequacy – but only for a moment. Mary’s need was urgent.

Joseph looked around the shed and spied a pair of warped boards lying at the rear. He was filled with both gratitude and dismay as he examined them. The grain was fine; there were no knots. The wood was flawless. Only the workmanship was shoddy. The tools would prove useful, after all. Joseph had never worked at such a reckless pace. It took him scarcely half an hour to fashion a serviceable cradle. At that, he finished just in time.

Mary was gasping; the child would wait no longer. Joseph turned the full force of his attention on his wife. He took control with confident ease. The delivery was uncomplicated (thank God for small favors!). He cleaned the child and put him in Mary’s arms, then gathered together some hay and sticks to cover the holes in the roof. Finally, he was finished.

“You’re a good husband and father,” Mary murmured, handing him the boy.

Joseph’s brows lifted. “How so?” he asked.

“Everyone sees the blessing in honor and prosperity. Few can accept the blessing of humiliation and hardship.”

Joseph nodded. “The lower the net is cast, the more it gathers. nativity_shepherds_by_murilloHeaven is too high for us. I was thinking it must have pleased God to cast his net low tonight.”

“Why, Joseph, that’s profound.”

“Are you so surprised?” he asked, a wry smile curling his lips.

“The things you do are always profound, but you seldom speak of why you do them.”

They rested in quiet contemplation, cuddling their child and nuzzling together. The cattle lowed gently beside them.

After a while, Mary said, “That’s a lovely cradle you made.”

Joseph regarded it thoughtfully. “It will make a fine manger when we leave. The wood for it should not have been lying there, though.”

“Oh, Joseph, not everyone is as orderly as you.”

“That’s not it,” he said.

Mary looked at him quizzically.

“Were it not for the cattle, I would have thought this place abandoned,” he explained. “But that’s not it. It’s the Romans. They love to collect such boards for use in their instruments of torture and execution…”

Joseph sat up straight, suddenly alert. Someone was outside the shed. Were they to be turned away from even this place? A boy stepped into view – a shepherd, then two of his companions. Joseph was puzzled.

“Please, sir,” the first boy spoke for them all. “An angel told us the Messiah is born tonight…and that we could see him here.”

Joseph and Mary glanced at each other in surprise, then Joseph smiled and bade the shepherds enter. They knelt before Jesus, who slept contentedly in his mother’s arms.

“A most approachable king, this son of mine,” Joseph thought, surveying the scene. A bit of Scripture bubbled into his head: God’s ways are not man’s ways. This Messiah would surely startle and challenge Israel’s expectations of what God’s ways are.

IV: After the Temple

 

“I saw a woman stoned yesterday.”

Jesus’ voice did not startle Joseph. His son had been working with furious intensity all morning – always prelude to an outburst. The father paused to look in his son’s direction. The muscles in Jesus’ back rippled with rhythmic resolve and the shavings flew like sparks. At this rate he would finish two or three days work before the sun had set. Every board would be perfect, too. It was a continuing marvel to Joseph that his son should be both so passionate and so precise. The father resumed his carving, but kept his eyes on the son. Jesus would elaborate soon enough. It was always best to wait for him.

“I could have stopped it,” Jesus said.

“Why didn’t you?” Joseph’s voice was measured and calm.jesus-teen-joseph-carpenter-shop

“It is not my time,” Jesus replied. “Now is a time for obedience and restraint. I can master nothing until I have mastered these.”

“Even at the cost of a woman’s life?”

Jesus stiffened, his back straight now. The plane trembled in his hand, troubling the wood no longer.

“She lives,” he said softly. “The gates of heaven will open for her. But this is not what my father intends.”

“What, then,” Joseph pressed. “…that sin should continue?”

Jesus whirled around, eyes flashing. His voice was tight with suppressed fury.

“No,” he said. “That mercy should abound. All have received it from above. It will go hard for those who are miserly in giving what they, themselves, have received in abundance.”

Jesus’ anger suddenly gave way to stunned wonder. Joseph’s eyes were radiant with joy, but his lips were pressed tightly together and his cheeks were wet with tears. Wonder became alarm when Jesus saw the deep gouge in the mantle his father had been working on. Jesus had never seen him like this. He went to his father.

“I can fix that for you.”

Joseph shook himself, as if waking from a dream, and gazed at the mantle. Tilting his head in curiosity, he looked back at his son.

“How so?” he asked.

“I can make it take any shape I want.”

Joseph’s eyes narrowed. “Have you done this with your work?”

Jesus’ face flushed. He lowered his head. When he spoke, it was scarcely a whisper. “No, Father…just some sticks in the field.”

Joseph pushed up from the bench. He began to pace, stroking his beard in thought. “I see,” he said. “Why work at all then? Why not just take a stick and grow it into a house?”

The pacing stopped. Joseph looked directly at his son. Jesus regarded his father with dismay and confusion. He tried to speak, but all he could muster was a dry, choked rustle.

“I’ll tell you why,” the father resumed. “Because it is wrong. You are a man, Jesus. You did not become such to cover over shoddy work. That is a mark of lowness in a man. If you are to be lifted above that, you must always work the wood properly. No shortcuts – ever.”

Jesus’ eyes met his father’s stern, loving gaze. For a moment the son remembered having chosen Joseph from all eternity. He pushed the memory away; his father would not be pleased. Now his own eyes filled with tears. Joseph was a worthy man.

“Yes, Father,” he assented.

Joseph clasped the boy’s shoulder in the semi-embrace favored by reticent men. Father and son worked together in silence that afternoon, savoring occasionally the comfortable communion between them.

V: His Father’s Way

 

The Baptist was shaken to see Jesus standing before him, waist deep in the chill water of the Jordan River.

“I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me,” John said.

baptism-of-JesusMemories of Joseph flooded Jesus’ mind. Smiling gently, he told John, “Allow it now. It becomes us to fulfill all righteousness.”

The Baptist plunged him into the water. Rising, Jesus shook his hair and beard, then departed for the desert.

His father was well pleased.

*******

In my Father’s house are many mansions…

I go to prepare a place for you – John 14:2

 

 

Posted in Fiction, Obedience, Prayer | Tagged | 189 Comments

Reconciliation in the Family of God

By Charlie Johnston

A brief note today. After several years of strife and divisions in families, I ask you to dedicate this Christian Holiday Season to reaching out to family members who you are alienated from. We have much to face in the next year or so, but I believe God would like to hearten you by binding up these wounds. If you are rejected, offer up prayers and penance. If your extended hand is met with consideration, even though it be tentative, insist only that your conscience be respected as you respect the conscience of the alienated family member. Share the old joys while letting the old wounds go. Let this be a true season of reconciliation, a season of miracles to hearten us all for the trials before us.

I will be in Wisconsin this week, with a talk in the Green Bay Area Thursday night and another in Racine on Sunday afternoon. Details are below.

Green Bay, Wisconsin (Free Event)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

6:30 pm:  The Marq – DePere,  3177 French Road,  DePere, WI 54115

For more information:  http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07edc4htxve9029a27&llr=wti4dcgab

Contact Don at  tnrs@earthlink.net

*******

Racine, Wisconsin (Free Event)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

1:00 pm:  Rosary;  1:30 pm:  Public Talk    

Caledonia/Mt. Pleasant Memorial Park Hall,  9614 Northwestern Avenue, Franksville, WI 

Contact Audrey at  tnrs.wisconsin@gmail.com

Posted in Speaking Tour | 319 Comments

A Reality Check

french_retreat_in_1812_by_pryanishnikov

By Charlie Johnston

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”- John Adams

 

Election Day was a good day for America, but it was not a Rescue – more like the evacuation of Dunkirk. It was a defensive success, fending off an authoritarian siege against ordinary Americans. Its primary virtue was in showing that there is fight in the old girl, yet; that we are not going to quietly sit down and submit to a radical elite insisting we are all rubes who must be stripped of our rights of religion, free speech, assembly and self-defense. What it did not do is suddenly remake us into a religious and moral people. That is how we got to this state in the first place – and it is the only way we are going to get back a genuinely prosperous and tolerant country that is a light to the world.

Mark Mallett wrote a marvelously insightful article shortly after the election that largely captures what we are called to.

I know the rioting and shrieking by those who foolishly think themselves enlightened and

wadena-iowa-committee

The committee who hosted my talk in Wadena, Iowa – in their squirrel shirts.

tolerant have caused a defensiveness in some of us that can present itself as a sort of triumphalism.

 

The day after the election, I got a note from a woman that said, “Charlie, you and your followers are full of religious claptrap. So very sorry for you. I hope you find your heaven because you and people like you have doomed a large number of American citizens to a living hell.”

She is a decent enough woman, though not nearly as bright as she thinks she is, so I figured I would let it stand and not respond – give her her primal scream. But I had to wonder, what living hell did she think was going to be imposed? Does she think we are going to sic the IRS and other federal alphabet agencies to persecute her for her beliefs? Does she think we are going to start fining, firing, bankrupting and even jailing homosexuals? Does she think we are going to force homosexuals to tithe to churches of our choice, as her side tried to force nuns to pay for abortion and contraceptives? Does she think we are going to exempt conservatives and Christians from ordinary laws? That is what the left routinely does to the right, not what the right does to the left. Now if she just thinks it is a living hell not to be able to persecute and punish Christians and conservatives with impunity, that is a living hell she deserves – but we are not going to treat her with the callous disregard and contempt with which her side has treated us. I keep waiting for a self-aware progressive to have his Pogo moment and say, “We have met the bigots – and they are us.” Sadly, self-aware progressives are scarcer than Elvis sightings these days.

My friend’s sentiments illustrate a growing degeneration in the very understanding of the

san-fran-robt-johnson-carmen-maguire-jim-koszarek

From the top of Mt. Tamalpais looking out over the San Francisco Bay towards Oakland and Berkeley. From left are Robert Johnson, Carmen Maguire, me, and Jim Koszarek.

purpose of civil government. The left believes the purpose of government is to choose winners and losers – and then to enforce, by bullying brute force, its will on the losers in every aspect of their lives. It is the animating governmental philosophy of the old Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Communist China, Fascist Italy and all the tyrannical regimes in history. The right thinks government should be an administrative agent of the people taking care of a few necessary things: diplomacy, real interstate commerce, national infrastructure and such. Its first duty is to mind its own business and leave us alone. It is not the job of the government to tell us what to think, take care of our every need, or prevent us from talking crudely. We are a free people, not a herd of cattle to be nurtured, penned or slaughtered at our government’s whim.

 

I was a little shaken at how many people were so upset at my reiteration that I would leave the scene if a normal transfer of power took place on Jan. 20th. That is simply an uncontroversial matter of honor and accountability in my mind. I would, of course, stay alert until July 5, 2018, as that is what I regard as my term of service. It doesn’t mean anything except that I would hold myself accountable for my definitive statements. What I have been trying to convey here since I started this a few years back is that God is good in all ages past and is always close at hand for those who call on him sincerely and humbly. He is not good because I say so, but because He is. When I get it right, God is good. Should I get it wrong, God is good. I am frail and fallible; He is strong and faithful.

My angel rarely congratulates me for being right. Rather, if I am in serious error, he rebukes and corrects me. Many of the greatest saints have been deceived by the devil for a time. I have no illusion that I am exempt from that. So what if I was deceived for a time and my angel, for whatever reason, did not correct me? Do you think that would be so God could abandon or destroy you? Of course not! Everything that God allows is for our good and our reclamation. I know that, I have no doubt at all of it.

I am thankful that most people accepted or understood my statement for what it is. But I worry that some who were shaken put their faith in God because of their confidence in me, rather than recognizing me for what I am – a cheerleader for the mighty God. Jesus’ followers thought He was going to re-establish a temporal kingdom through military might and political skill. Imagine how despondent they must have been when He was executed. Many thought all was lost. They found, as we always do, that God’s plan is both far different and far greater than any of us can imagine. Imagine then, their joy at the Ascension, when they had to have contemplated that what they had thought was the end was actually the beginning. We must ever wait, watch and trust, even as we humbly do the

mich-cubs-rosary

The Jackson, Michigan team, giving me my Cubs-colored Rosary. That is our commenter and team member, Mick, to my right.

very little right in front of us that we can with absolute fidelity.

 

Sometime in the next year, I will be significantly wrong about something. It won’t be the Rescue, but it will be something. When it comes, it will not be a test of me, for I already know that God is good and seeks our reclamation. It will be a test for some of you, to see whether you have put your faith in me or your faith in God. If it is in me, your faith was always ill-placed. God is good, all the time, whatever the circumstances – and works to call us all back to Him. When I am wrong, I will accept the correction with gratitude and more wisdom. I will not leave the scene unless it is one of the fundamentals, and then, in full obedience to Holy Church, I will wait on the Lord, knowing that He will strengthen my heart and that it serves His purpose to call all His children back to Him.

All my life, people have been drawn to tell me their story. When I was a young man, a middle-aged woman who worked for me told me her story one day over coffee. She was an ever-cheerful woman with a foreign accent, always glad to help her fellow workers and always with an encouraging word. As it turned out, she was Hungarian. She teared up as she told me the hair-raising tale of watching her husband and two sons murdered in the Communist invasion which she managed to escape and be smuggled out of the country – and her gratitude to live in this country where she was free. While on my pilgrimage, I met a young couple with a year-and-a-half old daughter. They had been high school sweethearts when she got pregnant. They decided to get married so the child would have an intact family – and because they kind of loved each other. The young man was working 70 hours a week so they could get a trailer and begin a real life together. They exuded joy. While doing a remote broadcast at a festival for senior citizens about 25 years ago, I stumbled upon four couples who had lived next to each other since World War II. Turns out they had all been part of the D-Day invasion. As they watched friends falling around them from the rain of bullets, they resolved that whoever survived would spend the rest of their lives living as neighbors and brothers. These four were those who survived D-Day out of the original 12 that made that pact.

The thing that most angers me about the cult of migro-aggressions and trigger alerts are what a mockery they make of people who have truly suffered, who have truly sacrificed on behalf of those they love, even sacrificed for strangers. When college kids, the very definition of pampered elites, and millionaire athletes tell people such as these to “check their privilege,” it makes me want to retch – and fills me with contempt for the offenders. I have to remind myself that God calls for their reclamation, too, not their destruction. But oh, they will have much to repent of and to account for because of their ignorant, malicious parody of suffering. Some of those who have genuinely suffered are left broken. Most often, though, those who have genuinely suffered are notably large-spirited and generous – never petulant and whiny.

I have only heard two truly magnificent performances of Tchaikovsky’s masterful “1812 Overture.” Performed properly, it is a hauntingly lyrical recounting of Russia’s suffering under Napoleon’s onslaught. The misery in the pathos of the early strings is heart-rending. At one point, a muffled French Horn sounds the distant cry of triumph that will ultimately be the defining crescendo of the piece. But it interrupts the misery like a distant call of hope – and there is a lot of strife and turmoil before that cry reigns triumphant and Russia is renewed.

The task before us is still the call to renewal, to become the people – the Family – of God once again. There will be no Rescue until we have lived that fully. We live it by acknowledging God, taking the next right step, and being a sign of hope to those around us. Half this country still believes that liberty is racist and that tolerance is bullying and punishing people who disagree with you. Last week’s election was that forlorn French Horn, sounding the call of what might be, but not yet is. It was a hopeful sound, but it is not the end of the work before us, only the beginning. It is up to all of us to see “…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” That we may once again become a light to the world and the hope of all who yearn to breathe free.

(In my meatier pieces, I am going to start putting up some random pictures from my visits to the faithful around the country. I can’t write about each of these visits, but it is good for you to see that there are many throughout the land looking to acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope.-CJ)

 

Posted in Christian Persecution, Conversion, Culture, Family of God, The Rescue, The Storm | Tagged , , , , | 413 Comments

Prayers for Friends in Earthquake Zones

I have several meaty posts I am eager to get up, but I am frantically busy and do not expect to get the next up until Tuesday. Meantime, please say a few prayers for our friends in New Zealand and in Argentina. New Zealand was hit with a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that killed two and, it is feared, may trigger a tsunami. Argentina saw a 6.2 magnitude in a largely unpopulated area, causing no casualties or serious damage. Still, such a quake can be a precursor.

Our dear friend, Joe Crozier, of New Zealand checked in to let us know all is well with him. Thanks be to God.

Posted in Uncategorized | 60 Comments

Quick Take

I am on a travel day again. Just had a great event in Michigan – where they gave me a Rosary in Cubs colors. Love it. I have two events in Iowa, one on Friday and another on Monday as listed below. Hope to see you there.

Also, I saw this marvelous piece by the ever estimable Victor Davis Hanson on National Review. It is a short, but great, read.

Epworth, Iowa (Free Event)

Friday, November 11, 2016

6:45 pm:  Chaplet of Divine Mercy,  7:00 pm:  Public Talk

Timberline Golf Course,  19858 E Pleasant Grove Rd.,  Peosta Ia. 52068

Contact Charlie at tnrs.iowa@gmail.com

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Wadena, Iowa (Free Event)

Monday, November 14, 2016

6:10 pm:  Chaplet of Divine Mercy,  6:30 pm:  Public Talk

Upper Iowa University, 615 Washington St., Fayette, IA  (Student Center)

Contact Gary at  tnrs.wadena@gmail.com

Posted in Culture, Speaking Tour | Tagged , | 186 Comments

A Good Day For America

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By Charlie Johnston

I was deeply heartened by the election results yesterday. I can now amend my promise  that I would retreat into silence if Barack Obama peacefully transferred power to Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump on January 20. Now it only applies if Obama peacefully transfers power to Trump on that day. Should that happen, it would be a very happy retreat on my part. I have not suddenly become a great enthusiast for Trump, though I did warm up to him in the waning weeks of this election. He came up with the most pro-life position statement of any Republican nominee in my lifetime. He may freely insult people while he is president, but he won’t attack their liberty or try to fine or jail them for dissent. He believes in American exceptionalism. He could represent a return to normalcy – a president who has flaws and virtues, but who is not given to pseudo-intellectual preening. When he preens, he just preens.

Hillary Clinton represented a unique threat to the U.S. – a fulfillment of the disorders brought on by Obama’s narcissistic self-regard, a fulfillment that would have ended any hope that the U.S. could right itself. She was an aggressive threat to the rule of law, the faith,  foundational freedoms and any hope of a Culture of Life. I am thankful that Americans rejected what would have been the decisive repudiation of the rule of law by electing her, though disturbed that so many Americans remain so cavalierly uninterested in the very principles that made us a light to the world.

Two years ago,  many people were deeply heartened by the Republicans’ landslide victory in the mid-term elections. A few suggested that this proved that my overheated concerns had been answered by that election and all would be sweetness and light. I wrote the column reprinted below, expressing my conviction that the election of a near veto-proof Congress would change nothing. We still were headed into a terrible Storm.

I remain convinced that this election will not stop the crash, but for different reasons than two years ago. As I mentioned, I have warmed up to Trump in the last few months. I played a very peripheral role in providing some briefing points at the request of  someone close to him on a particular issue last summer. To my pleasant surprise, once Trump came on board with the policy, he developed a very clear-eyed understanding and commitment to it. I think he has a good learning curve, is taking this very seriously, and wants to be a solid leader. I think he would govern largely as he has telegraphed – and that to change his mind you would need to convince him of the wisdom of your position, not some cheap effort to show how it is to his advantage. Sometimes I would agree with him, sometimes disagree – but I think he would govern as a traditional American, with respect for all.

My doubts lie with the anti-God progressives. In the last decade, they have done a miserable job of persuading people. In that time, though, they have become much more brazen in using riots, blunt force and raw power to get their way, anyway. Obama’s reflexive response to any setback is to ignore the law, stomp on it, then dare the Congress or the Courts to stop him. Usually, they just take it. So in the next few weeks, I will watch closely to see whether the anti-God progressives try to whip up violence and rioting to set our cities burning. I will be watching to see if President Obama starts making noises about “Russian hacking.” I wait to see whether they will accept defeat or resort to the violent, strong-arm tactics they have so relied upon. Certainly today, both Clinton and Obama have made gracious, unifying statements. We will see if it holds.

If the peaceful transfer of power takes place, I will happily retreat on January 21, 2017 and work on the book of stories connected to each decade of the Rosary I long to finish and learn to play the piano, confident that even if all is not well, the country is starting to move in the right direction. If not and we see two months of convulsions, I will retire on July 5, 2018 and do the same. All that will change is the date I will quit the scene.

And now, the piece I wrote two years ago:

Mammon is Fallen…And Great is the Fall

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At the homily at Daily Mass today, our priest delighted me. The Gospel reading was from Matthew 6:24, where it says you cannot serve two masters, that you cannot serve both God and mammon. Normally, I groan through the childishly oversimplified definition of mammon as money or wealth when this Scripture comes up, which mistakes a part for the whole of the matter. I wanted to stand up and cheer when our priest said that mammon is not merely money as many seem to think, but an attachment to worldly things, to a secular way of thinking.

This is at the heart of what is both good about the election results and why those results will make little difference in the progress of the Storm that is upon us. The systems we relied on to make both Western Civilization and America great bastions of freedom and opportunity are shot. They are tattered beyond repair. America was the final flowering of Western Christian thought before the Enlightenment divorced philosophy from theology, reason from faith. Barely a decade later came the firstfruits of the Enlightenment, the bloody and murderous French Revolution, which replaced one form of tyranny with another, far more brutal variety while pretending it was all for “the people.”

God, the Judeo-Christian God, is the firm foundation upon which Western Civilization was built and rests. I am uninterested in specious arguments from pseudo-intellectuals about the evils that Christian kings and rulers did through the ages. The Advent of Christianity did not usher in heaven on earth. As I have often said, we only get heaven when we actually get…heaven. From a social standpoint, what Christianity established was a framework to build upon, grounded in that which gives life. We were shown a way which, we would not fully attain to in this life, but which pursued with vigor and intellectual rigor, grounded in faith, would lead to a great advance in human dignity, in human freedom, in living together in harmony. We were given a system which, if followed, would allow each generation to get a little closer to the reality of Christ than the one before it. Each generation was able to build, brick by brick, upon the foundation and structure that was laid before it, getting ever closer to actually building a City of God.

In the first few centuries before Constantine, these were merely the claims of Christians, though the small Christian communities that dotted the Middle East, Northern Africa and Europe bolstered that claim. Once Christianity took root, it proved those claims, slowly, generation by generation. It was a way of thinking, of believing and of living that built up rather than tore down.

Now, I am going to digress for a moment to preempt the fools with a little learning who would point to the Dark Ages as a repudiation of the Christian impulse towards dignity. Modern ignorance of basic history, philosophy and theology is utterly astounding. I know that most people think the Dark Ages were a Christian phenomenon – because they have been taught that by anti-Christian polemicists near as ignorant as themselves. The Dark Ages were brought on by secular princes who feared that knowledge dispersed among the people was a threat to their power – that it should be suppressed in order to secure their ambitions and dreams of glory. Even half-wit secularists could deduce this without a great deal of study by following the logical conclusions that rise from the facts that, during the Dark Ages, the monastic movement took deep root. In the Monasteries, the monks went beyond copying Sacred Texts by hand and began to also copy out classic secular writings, the great ancient philosophers, that they not be lost to humanity entirely. It was in the Monasteries, during the Dark Ages, that the progenitors of the modern library and the modern university took shape. It has always struck me as a fine irony that, when all mankind abandoned faith en masse, it was the very home of faith that actually kept reason alive. The Dark Ages were the first great progressive movement, a determination to treat the great mass of men as dependent dogs to be ruled and cared for by a few elite princes who would decide what was best for each.

So what is good about last week’s American elections? What it reveals about the heart of the people. For generations we have steadily been pulling away from any public acknowledgment of God. That burst forth in the last decade in one major, perhaps predominant ideology, commonly called the left or progressive movement, that is openly hostile to God, Christianity, American traditions and values, and Western Civilization. We have bought almost completely into the toxic spirit of antichrist, that good can only be done without reference to God. Having marched through the cultural institutions of our society, it has reigned politically triumphant for the last six years. People have seen what it has wrought. It is not an increase in dignity, in brotherhood or in prosperity. The mass has started to reject it.

The problem is that the right is not a Godly coalition. Oh, it is not openly or even – for the most part – covertly hostile to God as the progressives are. It just thinks that God and talk of faith is ancillary to solving real problems – that, at best, God is just a brick in the wall rather than the foundation supporting the entire cultural edifice. The right will merely tinker at the edges of the corrupt edifice the left has erected. Who really believes the new Congress will firmly put a stop to the legal assault on small business owners living their religious conscience? Will anyone at the IRS and other public agencies that have targeted conservatives, Christians, and pro-lifers for their beliefs be held to account? Will a balance in powers be re-established, or will the new Congress just squeal impotently and hold show hearings if the President continues to unilaterally do whatever he feels like?

Even if the new Congress reacted with vigor on restoring a genuinely Constitutional order the nation is largely run by a bureaucratic class that has grown to beastly proportions and was removed from all accountability to the public – or elected officials – through Civil Service laws. Even if it tried to get the beast under control, the underlying financial structure is damaged beyond repair. It will crash because it has spun so out of control that government accounting measures are designed to hide the extent of the damage rather than reveal them. It will crash because there is no network of genuine collective international security institutions that are more than a facade. NATO exists on paper only. Throughout the globe, nations understand that they are on their own and must scramble, as best they can, to survive. What would happen if Russia invaded Poland? What if Iran invaded Israel? Who would stand effectively against Chinese adventurism in the South China Sea, Mongolia, even Japan? No one believes the United States would intervene effectively on behalf of any ally any more. Shoot, I’m not sure if the United States would do much more than send letters of protest if Alaska were invaded. The United States has been the prime guarantor of Western Civilization for a century now. When that guarantee loses credibility, it leaves foes looking to take advantage of the vacuum and it leaves old allies looking for new alliances that might secure their survival.

I caught a little flack a few weeks back when I noted that Russia has done nothing yet that does not make strategic sense to me. Some assumed I was praising Vladimir Putin, or that I endorsed Russian aggression and adventurism. It was neither. But I was irritated by shallow analyses that made Russian actions seem the dreams of a madman, a modern-day Hitler or Genghis Khan. To paraphrase a Chicago Alderman from the last century, “Geo-politics ain’t beanbag.” Some are horrified by Russian brutality. Well, so am I. But Russian rulers have been notably brutal going back into antiquity, whether they are Commissars, Czars, or roving bands of rival warlords. That the modern ruler acts as all Russian rulers have for almost a thousand years may be deplorable, but it is not a sign of national insanity. And frankly, it wasn’t all that surprising to me. Russia has long defined national greatness in Western terms while preferring medieval Eurasian methods of achieving its aims. It is part of what I describe as its thousand-year identity crisis.

Whether or not Russia has embarked on a mad quest of conquest must be judged on its actions within the framework of what it perceives to be its national interest. I have written before that, ever since the break-up of the Soviet Empire, there has been debate over whether Eastern Ukraine would be part of Russia or part of a Ukranian nation – both in Ukraine and Russia. It has been governed from Moscow for centuries and most Eastern Ukranians regard themselves as Russian, including religiously. While the technique used to justify the Russian invasion resembled the Nazi justification for the invasion of Poland, it is substantively different. If the American Union broke up and California became part of Mexico, an American invasion of California to take it back might be advisable or not, but it would not constitute irrational adventurism. That is roughly akin to the invasion of Eastern Ukraine. Once there was even a hint of danger that access to the warm water port in the Crimea might be at risk, invasion was inevitable. Whether good or bad, handled well or poorly, it was not irrational. It made geopolitical sense. Now if Russia were to invade Western Ukraine, that would be a different matter – more like the U.S. invading Mexico. It also would set up cultural problems, for Eastern Ukraine is Eastern Christian just like Russia. Western Ukraine is Western Christian, which would be an ongoing source of potential strife and disruption. It does not make geopolitical sense in any obvious context.

But let us take a look at the larger geopolitical framework. Vladimir Putin made a seminal speech at the Valdai Conference in Sochi last week, a speech that the western media has barely deigned to notice. I was particularly struck by the second fundamental point, that all systems of global collective security lie in ruins and that it is the United States which has destroyed them. It confirmed what I have thought about Putin going back for about a decade.

Russia, better than any other nation, understands the implacable supremacist ambitions of China – and its long-term, carefully patient strategy. For years, Putin longed to have an American Nixon to play off against, someone who understood geopolitical realities and was not put off by tough talk. The world was more dangerous and volatile than any one power could handle – and there were things, regardless of what was said, that were better off handled by others. Russia naturally wants influence in the Middle East. During the Bush years, Russia tried to advance its influence, but was largely content to let America handle it with only a few pro forma protests. Very simply, the Middle East is filled with a bunch of excitable Muslims – whose brothers are right at Russia’s door in Chechnya and other Republics. The potential for blowback was huge. While occasionally piling on, Putin was confident America would take the danger seriously and keep it contained. Russia would holler about defensive radars planned for Eastern Europe, but accept it. Why? It knew the United States was not going to invade Russia – and that, though those radars were justified as preventing Russian adventurism, they might come in right handy when China got to feeling its oats. Putin did not consider Bush a great geopolitical thinker, but he was a competent and responsible player on the world scene.

Fast forward to the Obama foreign policy as it unfolded. If you were watching for it, you could literally see Putin’s growing astonishment, dismay, and finally contempt for American fecklessness. When Obama cancelled the radars set to go into Poland within the first days of taking office, Putin was astonished. Gladdened perhaps, but shaken that the new American President did not even try to get a concession in return. In international relations, the only thing you give for nothing is nothing. It was an early warning of a new American incompetence on the very basics of international diplomacy. No one wants an incompetent dance partner.

When America allied with Qaddafi’s Libya as a useful partner in suppressing violent Jihad, then abandoned him at the first sign of trouble; when America abandoned the Egyptian ally most responsible for maintaining stability; when America ignored the rebels and sided with the Mullahs as serious potential revolt rose in Iran, Putin came to realize that America didn’t even know which team it was on anymore. When America began berating and undercutting Israel and siding with the very Jihadist warriors who were trying to destroy both Israel and America, Putin realized that while America might still have the toys, it was no longer a great – or even significantly consequential – power in world affairs.

It had to be a terrifying moment. Understanding clearly the meaning of China asserting its muscle in the South China Sea and the massive build-up of its conventional forces, Putin had to wonder to whom he was going to turn to balance growing Chinese power and adventurism. The United States might one day be a force again, but allying with it now was a good way to get toppled. A century ago, Europe was chock-full of great powers. Now it is composed of simpering eunuchs who would be useless in a real fight. (Apologies to my European readers, but your nations have castrated themselves). Japan, perhaps, but its relations with Russia have almost always been a troubled encounter – and it has enough worries with N. Korea and China acting up in its vicinity. Whatever they want to do, Africa and Latin America are not in a position to project useful power that far from home and are not likely to be any time soon. India can be a useful ally, but only if you can negotiate the knife edge between Indian and Pakistani mutual hostility. Australia is resolute and useful, but geography suggests it may want to hedge its bets with China.

The bottom line is that, at one point, Putin realized that China was rising, he was the only major world figure to take it seriously, and he stood almost alone. China needed to know that Russia had not gone soft – and Russia needed to shake up the world framework to defend its future.

It jumped into the Middle East with both feet when Obama fumbled the ball with Syria. Putin’s play might have seemed cynical, but he advanced two causes. First, he gained a foothold in real influence in the Middle East, demonstrating he was willing to be patron to other Islamic client states if they wanted it. This made sense because it was clear America was no longer effectively able to contain the volatility of that region – or even willing – and Putin always knew someone had to. Second, if the Jihadists on his borders created trouble, it would be useful to have some Muslim allies who might help dampen it down.

The invasion of Eastern Ukraine served a multitude of purposes. First, there was the ambiguity about which nation it rightly belongs with after the break-up of the Soviet Union. Historically, it is Russian. Second, the Crimea is vital to Russia’s ability to project naval power – and the lack of effective naval power is, incidentally, the only real weakness in China’s massive build-up the last few decades. Third, it demonstrated to China that it will project power if it perceives it to be in its interest – so that it is better for China to be a friend than an enemy for now. Fourth, it demonstrated to smaller countries wondering where to go given the vacuum of reliable American power, that it will exercise power to protect perceived interests and allies. You do not have to agree that this is HOW things should have been done to understand it is not just random madness. Even the Russian elder statesman most respected in the west, Mikhail Gorbachev, advised the west to take Putin’s speech last week to heart.

The real kicker is that Russia is exercising a brutal, medieval Eurasian temperament to uphold western Christian values that the west, itself,  has largely abandoned. So, American officials are counting on temporal political means to grapple with what are, at bottom, fundamental religious and cultural issues. It seems the Americans are using the right means for the wrong argument while the Russians are using the wrong means for the right argument. Meanwhile China lurks.

Mammon is falling as God rises actively in human history again. People act, advancing His purposes unknowingly. And the Storm draws force.

 

Posted in Culture, Prophecy, The Storm | Tagged , , | 725 Comments

Election Day

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By Charlie Johnston

I figure today, tomorrow and the day after I will get a lot of questions on the election. Some are newbies who honestly don’t know what I have said about it. Others are samplers of the site who have mixed in what I have said with things that others errantly say I have said. Still others are just trolls. It can be hard to tell the difference sometimes – and I can get crabby about answering the same thing over and over again. So I write this quick summary with links to old articles so I can just cite this piece.

What I was told eight and a half years ago was that Obama would be elected president, he would lead us into the Storm, would not finish his full term – and would live to repent and convert long after he had left the world in ashes. I was told that our next national leader would NOT come from the political system. Many people (including me sometimes) have considered that the most likely way that would play out would be that there would be no election. But as I wrote last January in “Through a Glass Darkly,” that is not the only scenario that would fit that prophecy. The critical day is not election day, but inauguration day – on January 20, 2017.

Those who ask if I will declare myself a false prophet if the election proceeds Tuesday either are not actually aware of the specific language of the prophecy – or are just trying to foment mischief and confusion.

If, on January 20, Obama peacefully transfers power to either Trump or Clinton, I will declare myself unreliable and retire into silence, as I wrote in August in this piece. While I will enter into silence, I most certainly will not declare myself a false prophet. I have been right on the big sweep of things. But I will consider myself unreliable at a time when we need solid reliability.

In the end, the purpose of telling you these things had nothing to do with letting you know details of the progress of the Storm. The Storm  would have come whether I was here or not. Rather, it was to give you confidence that I have told you true when I speak of the Rescue that will come late in 2017 – and to encourage you to be a participant in heralding that Rescue, to give you confidence in terrible times when you will really need it.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 555 Comments

This is Not the End

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By Charlie Johnston

Many alleged mystics in these times posit that we have entered the sequence of the end. Not the “end times,” which, theologically, we entered into at the Resurrection of Christ. Rather, the actual end. Almost all Protestants who speak of such things see it that way – and quite a few of the Catholics, as well.

As regular readers know, I most emphatically reject that. I have to. From the time I was just a little kid, my angel emphatically told me that these times would feel like the end, but were NOT the end. Rather, he insisted, that God, in His permissive will, would let us see and live some of the consequences of our vanity and disorder (the Storm), in order to call us back to Him and give us one final chance. That means that, after the Rescue (the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart) we will be given a renewed world, still ordinary in every respect except that our hearts are entirely renewed. I was also warned that, once this renewal came, that the next time there was a mass falling away from the faith, it WOULD begin the actual end. But how long we kept faith after the Rescue was entirely up to us.

Many of those who insist this is the end do a lot of good work. I don’t particularly begrudge them – and am glad of the good work they do. But, as many of the saints themselves have done while on earth, I think they are mistaken in how they interpret some things. Thus, I emphatically reject pronouncements that this is the end. I emphatically reject that the definitive Antichrist is at hand, for he comes at the end, not this renewal (though I recognize that many antichrists, foreshadowing the eventual arrival of the definitive one, have been around since the Ascension – and are ever with us). Those who think this is the end, if they have any sympathy for me, think I am mistaken. Regardless, I must speak of what I have been shown.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the consequences of the two views, similar in the sort of events surrounding us, but vastly dissimilar in the conclusion. The consequences of belief in either scenario are dramatically different. If you think this is the actual end, there is a certain hopelessness to it. It becomes entirely self-referential in how you should proceed. If this is the end, than all you can do is seek to find sanctification for yourself – and pray for it for those you love. But if the whole world repented, it would make no difference in the sequence of things – this world would still be doomed, whatever you do.

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St. Joan of Arc and me at Mother Angelica’s Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama

You can only hope to save yourself. My message is the polar opposite of that. It is that you will find sanctification in these times BY being a sign of hope to those around you, that you are called to be participants in God’s plan of renewal and rescue for this poor, bleeding world, that God most emphatically is NOT done with us yet. Those who posit this is the end consider it vital that you get right with God. I say the same, but that getting right with God involves steadfastly being a sign of hope and witness to those around you more than anything else – to get out of your own head and live the Gospel witness to all. God is going to right the ship of salvation history, not destroy it.

 

I once had a very good fellow accuse me of trying to curry favor with Church authorities because my eschatology is practically identical to what the Church has taught for near 1,500 years now. To the contrary, this is what I have been SHOWN from the beginning. It is a blessing that it is consistent with what the Church has taught for a millennium and a half. But had it been different, I would have submitted obediently to what the Church teaches definitively, while remaining true to what I was shown that was not in conflict with Magisterial teaching. As I understand, the Church has definitively condemned millenarianism in any form (a rose by any other name…). Other than that, it is very permissive in interpretations of Revelation and end times eschatology. There are almost as many variations in interpretations as there are saints in the canon – with the variations often offered by the saints, themselves. I have the happy circumstance that what I have been shown since childhood matches quite well with both definitive and with general Church teaching. So I will toddle right along, insisting that this is the beginning of something glorious, the prelude to the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart. I will continue to tell you that after the birthing pains of this renewed world, my children and yours will live in a glorious Culture of Life, Love and Brotherhood. I will continue to insist that if you participate with God by acknowledging Him, taking the next right step, and being a sign of hope to those around you, a century from now your descendants will still call you blessed, honor your memory, and call for your intercession.

I have noted these last few weeks a certain frantic edge to people’s worry. Perhaps it is the election, perhaps just the general cultural angst that never seems to quiet. The answer is to go “all in” in God’s service. I repeat below my story on how I went all in, in hopes it will help you do the same.

All In

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By Charlie Johnston

We have reached a striking pass. Many of my old critics, while not letting up on the criticism, are visibly nervous that I am right because of the sweep of events this last year. I dropped by a site that comments on me regularly a few weeks back – and was amused to see some of my critics essentially arguing that, “…just because Charlie is right doesn’t mean he is…right.” On the other hand, many of those who have found hope and inspiration here are, occasionally, showing visible signs of worry that, ultimately, I may turn out to be wrong. I have kind of been waiting for this. It makes sense because I have been stunningly accurate on the sweep of the social breakdown – and the acceleration of it over the last three years. But what I say beyond this is, plainly, unbelievable from any temporal standpoint.

One of my favorite phrases is that ‘faith is an act of the will.’ We choose faith, not simply fall into it. If we just fall into it, the roots don’t go deep. We must actively choose it at some point – or lose it. I actually have a lot of sympathy for the doubts on both sides, for I had my own moment of choosing – and it came about five years after my final commitment.

In early 2002 I was still struggling with my own belief in the phenomenon I had experienced my whole life. Though the evidence had piled up, both in large and small ways, that this was authentic, a significant part of me could not let go of the fear that this was just the way my peculiar mind processed a powerful intuition. These fears caused me to worry that if I had to go public, I would likely face humiliation, disgrace, and burn all bridges to any way of making a living – and might yet be wrong at a critical moment. Such fears were not conducive to speaking with confidence. Yet if I did not speak with confidence, how could I give heart to people when they really needed it? If I did speak with confidence, how could I be sure that I would not yet be wrong on something critical? The disclaimer from a financial commercial, “Past performance is not a guarantee of future results,” kept going through my mind. Since about 80% of what I did required interpretation of often cryptic information, what if I got a significant interpretation wrong? Despite the protocols I had put in place to prevent the devil from deceiving me, I well knew he had deceived many saints for a time and had no illusions that I was invulnerable to such assaults. What if I were deceived on a point and, for whatever reason, my angel did not correct me? The lament of Jeremiah was always on my mind: “You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped…” (Jeremiah 20:7).  If I did not speak with confidence, I might well defy God and fail the mission He had entrusted to me. What a terrible accounting I would face for that! If I did speak with confidence, I might mislead people – and the despair would be all the greater for it. Yet I had structured my whole life around the possibility this might be true and I might be called to act…so what was the purpose of my life at all if I was going to chicken out at the moment public service began? I had wrestled with this conundrum for over a decade. I needed a way where I could go all in.

I finally realized that I had been wrestling with the wrong question. The question was not whether I would ultimately be right or wrong, but whether I would be true to the promise I had made to God that I would speak in His name to give people comfort and hope if the Storm, the global civil war fought on cultural lines, fully developed as I had been told it would. When I started thinking in terms of being true and of promise, a way forward opened up to me. I could never eliminate all doubt in my head and, heaven knew, the devil would spring up to inflame those doubts if I thought of it in that fashion. Nor could I deny what was likely an authentic call from God and live with myself if I shirked it. So I decided to behave “as if” it were all true in order to keep faith with my promise. Working from this premise, it made perfect sense to adopt some rules and safeguards that would make my work a bit harder, but would protect others from any unnecessary fallout while staying absolutely true to my promise. Here are some principles I adopted to facilitate this work:

1)      Obey legitimate authority. People who are crazy think they are authentic and right. If it is from God, submitting fully to the authority He commissioned His Church on earth with is the perfect safeguard. If it is from God, He can clear the way when it seems impossible. If it is blocked, it is for my good or that of others.

2)      Never abrogate my responsibility. This is the flip side of obedience. I am given a peculiar mix of spiritual and temporal responsibility. While living full obedience to the Church I must take full responsibility both for my spiritual discernment and my temporal actions. I must always take counsel on both, but take care not to allow anyone to share in that responsibility. It can be very tempting to try to spread the responsibility around, so that blame can be shifted for any errors. That would offend God. This is why I do not seek – or accept – any ‘endorsements’ of the prophetic elements of my message. That is my responsibility alone before God. I also am careful with my Priests and close counselors to warn them away if they suggest something that would inadvertently cause them to share in my responsibility. For example, a counselor once suggested I ask a specific question of my angel for discernment. I quickly warned him not to suggest that, as it would cause him a share in the responsibility for my discernment. Rather, he could ask me specifically how I discern and make suggestions to refine my discernment – but to propose an active test of an angel would give him responsibility that he should not take on. Any errors are my own, both before God and before men.

3)      Make whatever I do or say good in itself. Past performance, though suggestive, is no guarantee of future results. I can’t know with absolute certainty that the prophetic elements of my message will come to pass precisely as I have seen them. God is trustworthy and strong, while I am small and frail. Thus, keep people’s trust focused on the God who is trustworthy and strong, reminding them of His goodness in ages past and His abiding tenderness to those who put their trust in Him. Handle everything so that if I failed miserably on everything else, I would have written material that would be useful to help people reconcile themselves to God and His Holy Church, despite my own failures.

4)      Be rigorously honest. Much of what I have been shown over my lifetime is starkly unbelievable. That the world could so flip in its values in one short lifetime that it would bluntly treat good as evil and evil as good was unbelievable to me when I was yet a boy. But it has happened, as have almost all the unbelievable things I was shown. I do not have to tell all that I am shown. It is usually best that I only tell a little. But calculations over believability must play no role in my decisions about what to tell and what to retain. Whatever is told must be true to what I am shown. Whatever calculation is involved must be over what is useful in building people up, assuring them of the hope that is in God, preparing them for trials, and exhorting them to act so as to build those around them up and so participate in the Rescue. Many people – some friends, some foes – have given me advice on what I should do to make my work “more believable.” At best, I listen politely and move on. If I were worried about believability I would never have gotten up the nerve to speak in the first place. If, in my contemplations, I find a refinement in the interpretation of what I am shown or told, I must make the refinement, regardless of how people react to it. If a core piece meets with heavy resistance, I must stick with it resolutely. I must tell people true and let the chips fall where they may. The moment I start trimming my sails to enhance believability is the moment I cease to be useful at all.

5)      Use my anger, but don’t let it use me. Anger is an incredibly useful, and often necessary, tool. It can bring focus and passion to bear, used to steady those in panic, repel  assaults, and fire up the timorous. But it is like fire: properly contained in and focused by a solid furnace, it brings warmth, light and life in the coldest times. Uncontained and unfocused, it consumes everything in its path. I am grateful here for my political training, for knowing when to respond to attacks and when to ignore them is an art form. Amateurs think that either you always respond or you never respond – a simple formula,  and one that, followed rigorously, always brings them to grief. You cannot ignore attacks that bring into question your integrity or the integrity of your message. To do so is to fail to defend the charge God has given you. But once you have responded effectively, move on. The cranks will keep raging, the malicious will mount new schemes, but you must not deeply engage with cranks and the malicious, which can only fuel the fires of anger. Once you have responded effectively, they will move on or their malicious rage will consume them. Do not notice at all the petty carping of small men of no stature or credibility, for to do so diminishes you and elevates them. Use your anger, but never let it use you.

6)      Know that your only effective audience is God. When an actor auditions for a role, there may be dozens of people watching in the studio, but the actor’s only effective audience is the casting director. If all the dozens of people think the actor is great but the casting director does not, the role will go to someone else. If all the dozens of people think the actor is horrible, but the casting director sees a compelling quality, he will get the role. I am auditioning for heaven and God is the casting director. I obey the Church in all its lawful authority, for that is what God calls me to do. I minister to, comfort, challenge, and exhort His people, for that is what God calls me to do. If I keep my promise to God, 10,000 theologians swearing I didn’t will change nothing in God’s sight. If I betray that promise, 10,000 theologians swearing I kept it will change nothing in God’s sight. I seek to please the Master, hoping not to offend the spectators, but never failing to do so if it is the only way forward that is consonant with the Master’s will for me.

7)      Don’t look back. Once you have set your course, don’t waste any time mewling with the Hamlet “to be or not to be” routine. Choose well and seriously, then go steadily and resolutely forward, regardless of the obstacles you encounter. Never calculate the odds. If it is right, go forward despite insurmountable odds. Never be seduced by mere temporal advantages into doing something unworthy. If your weakness betrays you and you do something unworthy, renounce it, get up, and continue on your way. If I am with God, I can be delayed, restrained or diverted, but I cannot be stopped. If God is not with me, I should be stopped. Know that no one on earth has any power over you that God has  not allowed. Therefore, any setbacks or resistance are for your or their good – for your purification or for their inspiration and recovery. As inspirational as it can be to others for you to live prosperity well, know that it is even more inspirational when you bear adversity well. Never squander the grace of adversity by pining away for what was safe and comfortable when you were not fully mature.

With the adoption of these guidelines, I could safely be “all in,” for I was keeping my promise to God, not restlessly trying to be right.

If I was mocked, scorned and humiliated, I was all in with my promise.

If I was honored and celebrated, I was all in with my promise.

If I was wounded and suffered, I was all in with my promise.

This is the key. I occasionally get people who tell me scornfully that if God spoke directly to them, they would act without hesitation or doubt. Besides speaking ignorantly of that which they know nothing, they badly deceive themselves. They have little faith. Everything I need for my salvation, I have from the Scriptures, the Magisterium and the Sacraments. God speaks to us all there. The extraordinary ways in which God speaks to me have to do with a particular mission I am given – to go forth and comfort His people, to help them endure until Rescue and to participate now in that Rescue. Because of people’s little faith, they actually want more convincing that God exists. I don’t need these extraordinary visits to do God’s will – and neither do they. If they really meant that they would do God’s will rigorously if He spoke to them directly, they would do it rigorously from the direction He gives them in the Scriptures, Magisterium and the comfort He offers with the Sacraments. They think to chide me for my lack of docility to an extraordinary grace but instead reveal the frailty of their faith in what we all are given freely. If you can’t even live the ordinary well and resolutely, what could possibly make you think you could easily bear the additional burden of the extraordinary? It is as absurd as a man who struggles to carry 50 pounds on his back boasting that all would be well if he were just loaded down with a thousand pounds.

Faith is not just a matter of emotional belief, of being convinced. No matter how convincing the arguments, you will encounter terrible trials and setbacks; times when you will ask, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Times when you will wonder whether there is God at all, times when you will doubt that He has any concern for you at all. If your faith is dependent on an emotional belief, on being convinced beyond all doubt, it is a feeble thing, likely to collapse with the rise of wind and waves.

A faith that is strong and sturdy is a faith that, properly formed, is fully and consciously chosen. You cannot just sit back and wait for God or His ministers to convince you – acting like a judge at a gymnastics event, holding up a scorecard for how well someone else has performed. You are called to be a participant. Authentic faith is your response to God’s grace. You choose to act in faith, whatever trials, whatever setbacks, whatever sorrows may come. It is a conscious act of your will. You choose it knowing that there will be times when you doubt, times when you faint from weariness or fear…and when those moments come, you act with faith anyway. “O Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Authentic faith, fully chosen, makes you a participant in God’s grace, rather than merely a spectator.

Choose faith. Believe in God, not in me. Let us choose to believe in Him together. To get through this Storm, to be active participants in the Rescue we must each be “all in.” That way, if I should ever fall, you will stand – and if you should fall, I will stand. If each of us do that resolutely, our jaws set like flint, then the people of the kingdom and the people of heaven shall rise together, shall rise forever, and God shall rule.

 

 

 

Posted in Spiritual Preparation, The Rescue | Tagged , | 428 Comments

Cubs Win

cubs-wincubs-win

By Charlie Johnston

Yesterday was a travel day. I watched the Cubs game with my sister, Kim, who was about 11 years old when the family (except me) moved from the Chicago area back to Alabama. Holding to a piece of her Yankee heritage, she has been a lifelong Cubs fan. I decided when I got there that I wasn’t go near my laptop for a day (it does dominate my workday). Nice day off in preparation for the game – truly the game of a lifetime.

Back in the 70’s and 80’s, many of us young Cub fans used to joke that a Cubs World Series victory would be the harbinger of Armageddon – so our long-suffering was doing the world a great service by restraining it. The restraints have been lifted.

I have a piece that will go up this evening. I have a luncheon today and a busy day tomorrow, but we will get back at it. I just have to savor this victory a little. Frankly, the rhythm of it reminded me a little of the rhythm I have seen of the course of the Storm. The Cubs were down 1-3 in the Series and many (including me) thought it was going to be “Wait until next year” for us once again. Last night’s game had more twists and turns than a Robert Ludlum novel. But in the end…triumph.

I was so glad I was at my sister’s. In the perfect fusion of the heritages of the long-suffering Cubs fan and of Alabama sensibility, when they won, my sister jumped up pumping her fist in the air and shouted, “Roll Tide!”

Posted in Speaking Tour | Tagged | 217 Comments

Catholics Find Their Voice

 

 

rockwell-freedom-of-speech

Norman Rockwell’s Freedom of Speech Painting

By Charlie Johnston

I have been to Washington, D.C. more than a few times – always in the company of politicians. This time, I was in the company of people of faith. It was wonderful. I had a great and lively crowd. Entering the belly of the beast, I was prepared for a significantly smaller crowd than usual – and the room was only set to hold 80. To my pleasant surprise, the crowd spilled out into the hall as we tried to find some extra seats. The volunteer dinner the night before had been marvelous – and our hostess made us an early Thanksgiving dinner. I found that if the Son of Man came today, not only would He find faith on earth, He would find faith in Washington, D.C.

While in D.C., I visited the St. John Paul II National Shrine, just across the street from the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. While there, I spent near an hour perusing the traveling exhibit on St. Thomas More. It seems particularly appropriate at this time in American history. St. Thomas, once the Chancellor of the Realm, was persecuted and ultimately beheaded by King Henry VIII because he would NOT violate his religious conscience to voice approval for the King’s illicit marriage and mutilation of the concept of family, marriage and faith.

In America, the Democratic nominee for president has made public statements making clear that the Churches that treasure orthodoxy are going to have to change their attitudes about abortion, marriage, and gender or be banished from polite society. The WikiLeaks releases have shown that her team has busied itself working to undermine the Catholic Church from within and seeks to legally banish traditional faith, freedom of religion, speech and assembly be dashed. They have made it clear they don’t need no stinking Constitution.

Meantime, President Obama, while decimating health care in America, has made its remnants the primary support system for the Culture of Death. His war on the Little Sisters of the Poor, trying to force them to offer access to contraception and abortion in their health care insurance is well-known. This week, the president has threatened to veto the annual National Defense Authorization bill unless Congress removes all religious protections of conscience provisions from it. The party of the left has made it clear that religious people must not just tolerate dysfunction, they must actively celebrate homosexual marriage, abortion and forcing little girls to share their washrooms and showers with grown men or be fined, fired, bankrupted or jailed. This should not be a political issue. America was founded on respect for matters of religious conscience – and the Constitution guarantees it. But the anti-God progressives respect no conscience save their own authoritarian power and consider the Constitution an annoying dead letter that sometimes gets in their way, but can usually be safely ignored. They made this fundamental freedom into a matter of political contention. Those of us of faith have only three choices: we can submit, fight, or perish.

 

joan-up

I love this meme, which I came across on a Page by Fr. Richard Heilman

I clearly am not the only Catholic contemplating the example of St. Thomas more. Earlier in the week, I wrote of the candid, bold leadership of Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput. About a dozen readers have sent me links to this bold homily by Fr. John Lankeit at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix, Arizona. This homily followed the clear direction of Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmstead’s on the matter in a booklet with a foreword by Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez.

 

My own Archbishop, Samuel J. Aquila of Denver, issued a clear statement on the matter. Its gentle, but clear, dissection of the issue before us caused a poor denizen of the Boston Globe, Thomas Farragher, to get an intense case of the vapors. The lawless political officials who seek to impose their unconstitutional will on us are startled that the folksies are kicking back. The clueless denizens of the establishment media who have long thought their ignorance to be enlightenment are baffled at the open contempt with which people are treating them, why we aren’t robotically just doing what they tell us to.  When you constantly use “tolerance” as the justification to ruthlessly persecute and marginalize ordinary people and the faithful people who have been the backbone of our culture, it is only a matter of time before the persecuted defend themselves.

I occasionally hear criticism that our Bishops are not doing enough, that they are not standing up for the faithful. Sometimes there is merit to such criticism, but what I see are Bishops and Clerics across the land standing up boldly for the most fundamental of freedoms, freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Below is the statement Archbishop Aquila issued that so aggravated the Boston Globe. Thank God so many are finding their inner Thomas More – and Joaning Up!

Comments by Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila on Voting as a Catholic in 2016

“I have voted in every presidential election since 1972 and I have never experienced an election like this year’s. Both candidates are disliked, lack credibility, and have made comments that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. The American public is fed up with politics as usual and with the establishment in both parties. So, what should Catholics do when we vote in November?

That question is one that I have been asked by the faithful more this year than in any previous election. Recently in a dinner discussion with a group of Catholics, the conversation turned to politics and became vigorous, as some at the table supported Clinton and some Trump. All eyes turned to me and one of them asked, “Archbishop, what do you think?”

First, I shared my aversion for both candidates. Then I said that they need to reflect on the platforms of both parties, with an emphasis on the human life issues. Everyone at the table knew well the teaching of the Church on life and the dignity of life. They knew that Catholics in good conscience cannot support candidates who will advance abortion.  All pretty much agreed that, when it comes to life issues, Catholic politicians on both sides of the aisle have put party ideology before their faith and living their faith in the public square.

This is the most important guidance I can give: allow your ongoing personal encounter with Jesus Christ and the Church to guide your political decisions. I say this because we believe that the truth about ourselves and the world we live in is revealed in and through him. Our society suffers and has suffered for quite some time because too few people live an integrated life – one that does not divide “the personal” from “the public.”

This year there are some critical changes to the two major parties’ platforms that some at the

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Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila

dinner were not aware of.  Most important is that this year the Democratic party platform calls for the overturning of the Hyde Amendment, a provision that both parties have voted to include in the federal budget and on other spending bills for 40 years. The Hyde Amendment prohibits federal taxpayer money from being used for abortion. The platform is aggressively pro-abortion, not only in funding matters, but in the appointment of only those judges who will support abortion and the repealing of the Helms Amendment, which prevents the U.S. from supporting abortion availability overseas. Conversely, the Republican party platform is supportive of the Hyde Amendment and just this year strengthened its support for life by calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, banning dismemberment abortion and opposing assisted suicide.

Our conversation then turned to the understanding of the freedom of religion, the freedom of conscience, and the ability for faith-based organizations like the Church to provide charity through shelters, hospitals, homes for the elderly, etc., without fear of government interference and the existence of a respect for religious values.

In that vein, the subject was raised of the Health and Human Services mandate. This regulation requires the provision of contraceptives, sterilizations and some abortifacients through employer’s health plans. Most
surprising to me was that all at the table were practicing Catholics who are involved in their faith, and a couple of them had neither heard of the difficulty the Obama Administration has created for the Little Sisters of the Poor, nor the litigation that has occurred trying to force them to violate their consciences.

Catholic voters must make themselves aware of where the parties stand on these essential issues. The right to life is the most important and fundamental right, since life is necessary for any of the other rights to matter. There are some issues that can legitimately be debated by Christians, such as which policies are the most effective in caring for the poor, but the direct killing of innocent human life must be opposed at all times by every follower of Jesus Christ. There are no legitimate exceptions to this teaching.

The health of our nation depends on a deep respect for human life from the moment of conception until natural death, and the future of our society depends on how we protect that right. If we don’t, eventually we will go the way of Rome and Greece and other great civilizations that have risen and fallen.

Some, both in politics and in the Church, have stated that it is the Church that needs to change her teaching to include abortion, same-sex unions, and even euthanasia. Yet, in faithfulness to Jesus Christ, to the Gospel and to Sacred Tradition, the Church cannot change her teaching on these issues without denying Christ. She would cut herself from the vine and only wither away, as promised by Christ. The further we move away from Jesus Christ and his teachings, the more will our churches empty.

We are where we are today because too many Catholics and other people of faith have embraced the ways of the world and not the ways of Christ. They have not served as leaven that transforms society, but rather have condoned evil and the throw-away culture that Pope Francis frequently reminds us to reject.

When we fail to do this, the government will step in to fill the void. Indeed, the government will become “god” and impose its beliefs on the citizens. One only needs to look to the Health and Human Service contraceptive mandate, or the attempt by President Obama to force a transgender agenda onto public schools. We may even soon see the federal funding of abortion and the approval of physician-assisted suicide in Colorado. We are witnessing the dictatorship of relativism and the erosion of true freedom. And as Pope Francis often preaches, the devil gets in the mix quickly, especially when people no longer believe in God.

So my advice to Catholics in voting in this presidential election is to first look at who forms you and your conscience. Is it your personal encounter with Jesus Christ and the Church, the voice of God which cannot contradict the truth or revelation, or is it the ideology of some political party? Secondly, look at how you have been a leaven in society. How have you sought the common good and the values of the Gospel, especially by serving the poor, the needy, the unborn and the dying. If you truly live your Catholic faith, you will not find complete alignment with any political party, and that is okay.  Thirdly, look at how each party platform supports human life from conception through natural death, the freedom of religion and the freedom of conscience, the family, and the poor. Finally, do vote, as every Catholic has an obligation to participate in the political process.

For many, the presidential election will involve a choice between the lesser of two evils. On the Colorado ballot, we will also face the evil of physician-assisted suicide, known as Proposition 106. In conforming our hearts and minds with the Gospel and its clear teaching on life, all Catholics are called to vote “no” on this issue. A “yes” vote only furthers the throw-away society, and the culture of death. You will be hearing much more on this in the days and weeks ahead. Let us keep our country and state in our daily prayers, praying for God’s protection and blessings in these challenging, difficult times in which we live. And let us in charity pray for the conversion of those who support a throw-away culture of death!”

 

 

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