I don’t really want to write anything until after Christmas. Maybe just a few notes to tide you over.
In the last month I have spoken to about a dozen people I much respect who have had their faith shaken badly by events of this last year. Some have abandoned faith almost altogether, hanging on only by a thread – hoping that something will spark new hope and new resolve in them. One of the easiest ones to deal with is my friend, Kassi Marks, of Texas. I mention her publicly only because she has now spoken of what happened on her own Blog. Kassi is a deep, profoundly pro-life lawyer. She has spent years writing against Texas’ hideous “Advanced Directives” law, which allows hospitals to take control away from patients and their families in life and death situations with no right of appeal. She has fought the Texas Catholic Bishops’ Conference, which supports this law in direct contravention of Catholic teaching. (I should note that the Conference is the political, rather than a doctrinal, arm of the Bishops, but boy, is it offensive to see any Bishops formally undermining Catholic teaching in any venue. Small wonder their credibility is at an all-time low and still sinking.)
Kassi’s case is easy for me because she has not given up on God. She has converted to Russian Orthodox. Her fine, legal mind decided that if settled doctrine can be changed at a pontiff’s whim, or if it can contradict prior settled teaching, it cannot be reliably true – and, thus, it cannot be God’s Church. I told her if I believed that to legitimately be the case, I would have to agree with her. But despite the histrionics of some Bishops (including the Bishop of Rome) who want to replace 2,000 years of Magisterial teaching with what they believe to be their own sovereign will, I am convinced that this trial, too, will pass. Kassi has found a place where she can keep faith in God even as her faith in the Catholic Church has been shaken. Sadly, I have encountered many others I care about who question whether there is any abiding truth at all – or whether God really is. While I sympathize with those who are shaken, who feel betrayed by too many of those they trusted to be guardians and defenders of truth and the faith, I could NEVER join their ranks.
I told you on the old website – and on this one as well – that we were headed for a “global civil war fought on cultural lines.” I was saying the same thing a quarter of a century ago to my Priests – and in my private writings to them. I told you that this would be the worst crisis in the history of civilization. The only thing worse will be when we approach the actual end. As recently as a few years ago on these sites, I was mocked by many for stating it in such bald terms. The process was rickety. I made a couple of flubs along the way, but I told you true on the fundamental heart of the matter – and even the harshest of my old critics would have a very hard time explaining why we are not already in a global civil war fought on cultural lines. The crisis has not degenerated into the worst ever yet, but the battle lines are almost fully revealed.
But I also told you something else, quite forcefully: that this is NOT the end, that God is NOT done with us, that the only reason for me to tell you of the Storm at all was so that when it came you would have confidence that I had also told you true that all this darkness is only prelude to our renewal in God. And I told you to prepare for these times, not by stockpiling and hoarding, as if you could become an island and sit out the troubles that would come upon all mankind – but by this simple formula: Acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to those around you. No matter what happens around us, we can keep faith. Each of us has to choose in this great winnowing. God calls us to participate with Him in resurrecting the culture.
I am convinced that we now enter a year of judgment. It was no coincidence, I don’t think, that we had a full moon on the longest night of the year. The winds and waves have risen, but they are not yet howling with wild abandon. Don’t be surprised when they do. People still ask me occasionally about specific scenarios. Who cares whether it is by fire or ice that we are humbled? That is just a detail. The reality is that we will be humbled. So I have a few things to ask those who follow this website.
Make your stand both with charity and unshakeable resolve. If your faith is shaken, you may have entered the dark night of the soul. You can still acknowledge God (even when you don’t feel Him), take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to those around you. Both St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Teresa of Calcutta struggled with this darkness most of their lives, as their private writings later revealed. But they lived their faith despite that interior darkness. That is absolutely heroic – saintly, you might say. You know, however much you are shaken, that that is the only path to joy, the only path that builds up those around you, the only path that can give your children a hope and a future. Ask both St. Therese and St. Teresa to pray for you and help you to get up off your mat and walk when you get discouraged.
When the darkness comes fully, the people who will be most distressed will be those who have done the most to summon it. Those who now think themselves masters of the universe have no clue how to survive without services – and servants – at their beck and call. The time will come when they will be baffled and in terror of what they have called down upon all of us – and they will come to you for help and succor because, even though you, too, are in need, you will be in better shape than they are. Will your resentments – and your own needs – prevent you from ministering to them? How will you bring them back to the path of faith if you behave as these heathens among us do, with resentment, malice, and low cunning? I do not say to let them govern your assemblies; they have shown they cannot safely be entrusted with authority. Rather, treat them with charity as the supplicants that, soon enough, they will become. Show them a better way – the way of faith, family and freedom. Treat them as brothers if they can accept it. If they spurn your help even then, then shake the dust off your feet in witness against them – but not until you have offered the better way. These things you must do when you, yourself, are in need and in fear.
Do not be quick to condemn a Bishop or a Priest. Yes, we have more corruption and loss of faith than perhaps at any time in Church history. But neither you nor I can pilot this ship. It is the Lord, Himself, who left that to the hierarchy. If a cleric rejects the Gospels of Christ, let him be anathema to you. Treat him as the irrelevant dandy that he is by ignoring him. But do not treat all clerics as corrupt because some are. Even now, there are heroes rising among the clergy. Some who wear the collar are good men who are peacetime consiglieres in a time when war has come. These are not bad men. Do not treat them as if they were. Help build each other up as brothers in the Lord – including (and maybe even especially) those who have taken religious orders. When you find an honest cleric, let your heart overflow with reverence for, obedience to, and love for him. In a time of great corruption in Israel, Jesus told His followers to do what the authorities commanded, but not what they did. He was speaking of the law of Moses. We have the Gospels and the ancient Magisterium. This is what the Church says. Do this and you will endure and give heart to those around you.
If your friends and your family don’t have faith, have faith for them. If they don’t make reparation, make reparation for them. When they are completely shaken and trembling with fear, you put on the confidence that is from Christ, confidence that abides even amidst terrifying times. In September of 1917, Our Lady said at Fatima that many go to hell because they have no one to pray for them. Let us all endeavor to be spiritual philanthropists, so that none lack people of faith praying for them.
I am sorry I am not saying this as well as I had hoped. I think we are entering what may prove to be the longest night in the history of Christendom. As people panic at the strife that comes upon the world, carry the light of Christ with you to light the way of both you and your panicked neighbors. Gather and worship in your parish churches with confidence that you will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, as He has promised. Be watchful for those around you who need an encouraging word or gesture, and ask the Lord to inspire you to give that encouragement effectively. Remember that fear often presents as anger, so respond to the actual need rather than the stated complaint.
A little over 2,000 years ago, wise men came from a far country, following the light of a star that carried them to the Lord of the Universe, hidden in vulnerability in a crib. It was surely a long, dark journey. In spite of the darkness, wise men still follow that light.