By Charlie Johnston
I am not in Denver right now…haven’t been for over a month. I am working on a pro-life project…continuing to hoe the garden, as it were, as best I can for as long as I can.
In the last week, I met with one very faithful traditionalist Catholic who nervously informed me that he had left the Church and, like Rod Dreher, taken up with the Orthodox. He maintains a deep affection for the faith and the faithful…but the scornful refusal by this Pope to address the scandals – and even more telling, the continual assault on traditional faith and Magisterial teaching by the highest authorities in the Church, has driven him away. He was afraid I would be angry or contemptuous. I am not. Nothing will ever separate me from the Catholic Church I love, but when such seriously scandalous behavior is engaged in openly, brazenly and defiantly by top people in the hierarchy, it is small wonder that people should look for truth elsewhere.
I think now about how I was told so long ago that during the Storm, we were to treat all Christians – Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox – and all Jews as full and equal partners in the work before us. No second-class citizens here. That instruction takes on more meaning for me now. That man I spoke of left the faith not to forsake it, but in order to preserve his own faith for the time being. I have always been adamant against living a lie – for that is the most sure method of permanently losing your faith. Hold fast to Christ, my friends…and be witness to the faith in all you do, that our brothers may not lose hope in these terrible times. God, Himself, will see to re-uniting us if we do our part faithfully during the Storm.
I spoke with another couple who quit contributing to their old Parish because their Priest insisted on teaching things that were contrary to the faith and had become terribly heterodox. They begin a new Parish shortly, hoping that they can return to their old ways. What really moved me was that, when they withdrew support, they did not quit giving by a dime. Rather, they put the money they would have given their Parish into a “tithing” fund – and started actively looking for good, Catholic and Christian works they could contribute to in good conscience. I was delighted to hear that some Crisis Pregnancy Centers have been beneficiaries of what they have not given to their Parish. Crisis Pregnancy Centers are dear to me. They are always under assault by the left for the compassionate work they do. It astounds me that the left openly tries to shut these centers down and stop them from helping pregnant mothers to have and support their children – while simultaneously maintaining that pro-lifers don’t support pregnant women or their born children. What liars and cheats the pro-abortion crowd is!
I know some of you are withholding money from your Parish or Diocese because of the troubles. I will not try to beguile you into doing otherwise until these scandals are taken seriously and the assault on the faith from within stops. But I do ask you to do two things:
- Do not withhold money from a Parish if it keeps faith with the faith. Do not punish the honorable alongside the miscreants…otherwise, why should anyone bother to be honorable? Judge righteous judgment. Further, do not withhold support from your Diocese if it keeps faith with the Magisterium. One size does not fit all. This site, “Faithful Shepherds,” which I permanently link to on the Menu, is surveying every Diocese in America and displaying what each Bishop teaches in relation to critical matters of faith. It is a project of LifeSite News – and an invaluable resource. Do NOT punish the just for what the unjust do, for then you cast your lot with the unjust.
- If you determine, in good faith, that you must withhold money from either your Parish or your Diocese, please do as my friends did and keep donating the money you would have given to other Christian works you can honorably support. That will make it so much easier to begin right where you left off when the troubles come to an end – as they inevitably will. Jesus promised!
Since I have been out of town so long, a colleague recently asked me how often I am recognized in a new Church. I told him that at the height of the old site, it was rare for a week to go by when I was out of town that I did not get recognized at least once…and three or more times was not uncommon, but it has gotten to be more like a couple of times a month now. This has been a banner week, though, as I have been recognized at Church or at events by 11 different people.
The reason I bring it up is that when people who read me do recognize me, they almost never say, “Are you Charlie Johnston.” Rather, they almost always look at me and say, “Charlie?”, as if recognizing an old friend. I like that a lot…I love being as comfortable as an old fleece pullover to people I have not yet met. I have three favorite episodes:
- At a Church in Louisiana I was at for the first time, I was deeply impressed by the theological depth and plain-spoken delivery of the Priest. So I went back to the Sacristy after Mass to tell him how much I enjoyed it. When I saw him and said, “Father…” he looked at me and casually said, “Hi Charlie, how are you doing? What’s up?” I sure was glad I was there to compliment him – because I could hardly have argued with him after that.
- I was with my brother at Mass in Southern California. As we left, a fellow came up and said, “Hey Charlie, what brings you to southern California?” I told him I was visiting family, pointing to my brother, Steve. With a hearty smile he said, “Well, we’re glad to have you here.” As he left, my brother asked me who that was. I told him I did not know, but get that a lot. Steve laughed and said he would have thought it was a dear, old friend. I thank all of you readers who have not yet met me – for always treating me like a dear, old friend when you do. You cannot know how it warms my heart.
- In a small Parish in the mountains of Colorado, I had gone to Mass with a friend. In line for a potluck afterward, she introduced me to a friend of hers. At the mention of my name, the friend’s eyes went wide, she looked back at my friend and said, “The crazy one?! The guy who sees visions?” I laughed and assured her that, yes, that was me. She gave me a delighted smile and told me what an “honor” it was to meet me as she shook my hand. I love my life!
I know the picture at the top of this article is out of place, but when I saw it I couldn’t resist. And it is a little time sensitive – for me, if not for Chicago’s “early” voters. One of the reasons I had to get out of the Chicago area was my determination that I not start voting Democrat after I died.