(I had a very busy week early last week and then was a bit under the weather afterwards. I suspect it is going to be a very busy year for me and for all of us, so this may happen from time to time. But I get back on track today.-CJ)
By Charlie Johnston
On September 23, 2017, a great sign appeared in the sky, almost unnoticed by a world pre-occupied with other things. It was the woman cloaked with the sun, the Revelation 12 sign. It was the beginning of the process of rescue. I spoke of it as ushering in a year when all things would be revealed. The revelations of this past year and a half have been staggering: the systemic sexual abuse in media, Hollywood, churches, schools, athletics – in our entire culture; the only serious coup attempt in our history, which is still ongoing; the depth of the doctrinal rot, abuse, and cover-ups in our Church – and ongoing efforts by many Church leaders to minimize and evade responsibility for it, even blaming reformers for bringing the subject up after a hideous raft of evidence came tumbling out of Church closets. Not all has been revealed, but enough has that we now face responsibility for the choices we make. We may continue in rebellion and defiance, but we cannot pretend, when we stand before God, that we did not know or have the means to know what it was we chose.
Secular and political culture has entered an incoherent collapse. Millennials have adopted the pre-reformed Ebenezer Scrooge version of trickle-down compassion – give large amounts of money to government bureaucrats to take care of the poor, then wash your hands of any personal responsibility to the poor. For the elite, it is a neat scam to amass dependent voters; for ordinary Joes, it allows them to pretend to compassion without actually doing anything compassionate. At least Scrooge was honest; he pretended neither to generosity nor compassion. We get the same disastrous results, only sautéed in moral preening.
Open borders agitation is the primary enabling ideology for human traffickers. Even now, “coyotes,” (those who smuggle people into US borders) have taken to kidnapping or buying children to accompany adults across the border because of the agitation against temporarily separating families (while defining “families” as any group of adults who are accompanied by children) until we can find out who is who and whether any actual familial relations are involved. We don’t even slow down to consider these problems. Separate a child from what turns out to be his pedophile predator and the leftist ideologues scream bloody murder before assessing any facts. Neither the facts nor the children are important to such ideologues; only the narrative. And suburbanites have been deluded into calling this compassion.
“Science” is used as a shibboleth for left-wing advocacy, cited when it can be tortured into help for anti-God, left-wing predilections, ignored when it contradicts them. Thus, the leftists constantly throw around the thoroughly debunked “97% of all scientists believe in man-made climate change” to support their efforts to take absolute control of everything and rule over everyone – and say dissenters just don’t accept “science.” Yet they completely ignore actual science which says a child is fully human from conception, or that gender is biologically determined and unchangeable – every cell in a man’s body is male and every cell in a woman’s is female. It is not just a matter of mutilating external genitalia. Small wonder the latter idea should have become predominant: this generation constantly mistakes lust for love and thinks every social interaction is, at bottom, a tacit negotiation over sex. What a poverty!
We have also confused the pursuit of pleasure with the pursuit of happiness. Eating cakes, pies and ice cream all the time seems mighty pleasurable to a child, but even modern parents understand that this way lies sickness and death. Would that they extrapolate that wisdom to their own pursuits.
Our Church bureaucracies know little about the ultimate consequences of public policy choices – and seem to care even less. So they virtue signal all the time, shifting responsibility to others for making choices that sound good but have disastrous results. They have reduced themselves to wealthy, but ignorant, bureaucratic lobbying agencies. The early Church did NOT lobby Rome to force all to fund schools, libraries, hospitals and such: it built all these things, and more, itself – content to merely have Rome get out of its way. My God, we have become the image of profligate, degenerate third generation wastrels who loot the great institutions their more noble, visionary and industrious grandparents built! It is a horror to watch – and even more horrifying to hear these wastrels call anyone who opposes their profligacy uncompassionate.
There is no doubt the leaders of this anti-God leftist movement are both hollow and sinister, seeking personal validation in manipulating and profiting off of the masses. I prefer, though, to think of the average followers – and particularly millennials – as St. Paul did the pagans at the Areopagus (Acts 17:16-32). Instead of beginning with a denunciation of their foolish ways, Paul began his address to them by acknowledging their genuine piety, their desire to know and do the good – and then proceeded to explain to them why their practices did not bring the results they genuinely intended…and how to actually achieve those results, how to find and live truth.
Because of the collapse of our educational system into mindless indoctrination for at least two generations, now, the average person is under-educated. Even worse, the average elite person is both under-educated and over-credentialed. The elite is comprised of stupid people, many of whom are invincibly certain they are actually smart. They keep doing the very things that bring misery, frustration, and strife – and blame their disastrous results on the “stupid” people who are not among the elite. The only things with worse results than when the elite fail at implementing policy is when they succeed.
I read a lot, including works from atheists. The atheists of a hundred or more years ago were a tough lot, making arguments that required genuine rigor to refute. Modern atheists are a pale, sickly lot, depending on intellectual flabbiness and silly vanity to make their impoverished case. A few years back, prominent atheist Bill Maher made a film entitled “Religulous” to mock Christians and demonstrate how foolishly superstitious they are. Did he take on the work of St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, St. John Paul or their like? No. You might say he religulously kept his distance from such thinkers. Instead, he searched to find the most ignorant, superstitious, and often arrogant bumblers he could who professed to be believers. He dealt with no men who were not made of straw – and thought himself a dragon-slayer because of all the straw men he knocked down. Oddly enough, many of our modern atheists are, themselves, superstitious ninnies, preaching crystals, the mystical power of magnetic ores, reincarnation, astral projection and a whole host of pagan and pantheist superstitions that were dispatched over an eon ago. Of course, it is hard to hold people to account who rarely know much about what happened a decade ago for their ignorance of what happened an eon ago – but you can hold them to account for blithely treating their own ignorance as actual enlightenment and wisdom. They are not alone in their blame for that ignorance. Had our Churches not spent so many generations serving thin gruel instead of robust food, many would not have gone out in search of strange gods in the first place.
Of late, I have given thanks often that I am not a cradle Catholic. Having gone up many blind alleys and nearly despairing of finding a spiritual home on earth, by the time I seriously examined Catholicism, I did it with rigorous skepticism. In my early days, I often heard errant nonsense from many in authority; even from Nuns, Brothers, and Priests. Fortunately, I wasn’t just seeking to prove the Church wrong – I was seeking to find the truth of the matter. Going back to Magisterial Documents and the teachings of the Fathers, I found the truth of what the Church formally teaches. It was always coherent and solid. Before I became Catholic, I often asked my Catholic friends about doctrinal issues I disagreed with. The best of them had no answer, while the worst had wrong answers. After I entered the Church with much study, I went back to many of these friends and answered the very questions I had once posed, almost invariably getting an, “Oh, that makes sense,” in response. It is sinful that a Church with such magnificent infrastructure for catechesis has such poorly catechized adherents.
One of the doctrines that was an early stumbling block for me was that of infallibility. I was a student of history and knew of far too many confused, bumbling and even evil Popes to buy into that. But when I studied the formal doctrine of infallibility, I discovered it was more limited and constrained than what most of the Protestant denominations I had belonged to had claimed for their own Pastors. A Pope can sin (and some have been downright vigorous in it); he can – and often is – wrong on political and diplomatic decisions; infallibility never applies in matters of discipline; and he can even write hideously bad theology, provided it is not presented as Magisterial. Any pronouncements he makes that contradict, rather than interpret, Scripture or settled doctrine are simply invalid. There is not one in 10,000 Protestants who has a grasp of what the doctrine of infallibility means. Sadly, there is not one in a thousand Catholics who do, either. Three or four years ago, when Pope Francis had consistently made some rather dicey statements, I was speaking privately with another author who, like me at the time, was vigorously defending the Pope. I urged him to hedge his bets a little because this could get a lot uglier than we expected and still not violate the fundamental foundation of Catholicism – that we could enter into a real crisis. If we made claims to Papal authority that were not grounded in Magisterial and settled teaching, we could unintentionally drive people away when those claims proved false. I was concerned that the average Catholic already imputed a badly errant interpretation of infallibility to a whole host of things – and that if we augmented that, it would reflect poorly on us should God decide to put us all through His winnowing fan.
Recently, the professional Eschatologist Desmond Birch made a comment that succinctly encapsulated infallibility. It is worthy of serious contemplation – both on the extent and the limitations of it. He wrote:
“THE CHURCH TEACHES DOGMATICALLY AT VATICAN COUNCIL I THAT: THERE IS ONLY ONE AREA WITHIN WHICH THE HOLY SPIRIT ENSURES THAT WHAT THE POPE DOES IS INFALLIBLE. THAT IS WHEN HE:
1) SPEAKS FROM THE CHAIR OF PETER,
- TO THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH
3) TEACHING ON A MATTER OF FAITH AND MORALS, AND
4) MAKES IT ABSOLUTELY CLEAR THE HE IS BINDING ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH TO ADHERE TO THAT TEACHING.
This was declared to be infallible Catholic teaching by Vatican Council I”
The last formally infallible pronouncement from a Pope came before I was born – November 1, 1950, when Pope Pius XII confirmed the Assumption of Mary. Sadly, some people have gotten so deeply into Papolatry that they would believe a Pope’s March Madness Basketball picks to be infallible – and call it faith to still believe them after they were proven wrong by events. Such errant beliefs will cause many to fall away if belief in them is widespread.
One of the things that drew me to Catholicism is that it insists there can be no contradiction between faith and reason, only apparent contradictions. Some matters of faith transcend reason, but none actually contradict it. Thus, when there is an apparent contradiction, we are called to either reason better or examine our faith for errors until we can reconcile them, knowing all the while that the most brilliant of us is actually intellectually feeble in heavenly terms. It leaves a very broad realm for intellectual inquiry while retaining a firm foundation.
What, then, is left to be revealed? The fullness of the power of God. Sadly, in the last century, many religious authorities have abandoned belief in anything supernatural at all. If God is author of all things, He is author of the rules governing the universe – and is NOT subject to those rules. With Divine Wisdom He established them so that, even without the supernatural, we may find our way surely to Him. But it is nonsense to believe that He would not, at times, choose to transcend them to give witness to an unbelieving people. Authorities were right to posit that such instances were rare – and that all credible claims of supernatural events must be examined closely to weed out the abundance of frauds and, even, demonic supernatural activity. But authorities went from that worthy determination to convincing themselves that God is not capable of a miracle. How pathetic it is to give your life in service to what you have convinced yourself is a lie! Yet that is what many authorities have done. This led to the abandonment of faith for psychology (which could be a useful tool of faith had it not become an idol in itself).
In a foreshadowing of what is to come, God has given us a host of signs and wonders in the sky these last five years, if we would only pay attention. Besides the great Revelation 12 Sign, we have had super blood moons, double blue moons in a single year, a great, complete eclipse crossing the US from sea to shining sea in the summer of 2017, with its equal and opposite twin completing a continental “X” due in 2024. Scientists have discovered a gigantic meteor burst almost 4,000 years ago over the area in Jordan believed to be Sodom, which wiped out communities and killed thousands. Earth’s magnetic poles have suddenly become deeply unstable. I believe God is giving a heads up to those who will hear Him – and these foreshadowings will lead to an overt display that He is God, the only, the one, true God. It is not to prove Himself to us, but an extension of mercy, to give us yet a final chance after the year of judgment reaches its climax to turn back to Him. (Note, when I say “year of” I typically mean, more precisely, “time of” – though I think, or perhaps hope, that it will be a short, if intense period…that the days of tribulation will be shortened for the elect’s sake.)
Let us return, for a moment, to St. Paul at the Areopagus. It is good to oppose those things that bring misery and break down culture. It is better to recognize that many who contribute to that deterioration actually want to do good, but do not know or have forgotten how. I do not speak now of those miserable souls who would bring the misery they live on all of us in order to enhance their own temporal power. Rather, I speak of those weak, sometimes vain, souls who have been seduced by the false promises of the deceivers. There is an abundant harvest to be had there, I think. Here we have the call to action that God is pronouncing in these increasingly terrifying times.
The Bible does not say that all are children of God. Rather, it says that all things were created by God (John 1:3) and that all men are given power to become children of God (John 1:12). Who can then become children of God? All who receive Him and believe in Him (John 1:12). Now God calls all men to salvation (1 Timothy 2:4). Since we are called to imitate Christ, it is not sufficient that we oppose that which destroys. We are called, first and foremost, to be evangelists, to call those who have strayed and show them how to become children of God, both finding and spreading the joy that is in Christ.
The world now largely sees each other through the eyes of the satan, the great accuser who seeks to reveal all that is ugly, shameful and malignant in men. He looks for the flaw, the fault, while never turning his piercing, malevolent eyes upon himself. Is not the crowd which is ever on the lookout for something by which to be offended in complete thrall to the satan? God seeks out the good in each man’s heart, even though it be as tenuous as a gossamer filament, that He might pull them through gently to the safety of His bosom.
This year is, I believe, a year of judgment. We will increasingly see – and live – the terrible consequences of our own disorder. To the hopelessly vain, failure of their plans only causes them to double down on their errors. There is little you can do with such as these. But to many, maybe even most, such failures give them pause to consider their way. Look past the anger, the shouting, to see the fear and misery that often lays behind it. If you can help soothe the fear and the misery – that will quell the shouting and anger and can be the first step in a return to faith and joy. In Book 13, Chapter 24 of Confessions, St. Augustine marvelously interprets the specific command to men to be fruitful and multiply as a command to spread faith, to teach others to become children of God. He reasons that since even the most brute creatures can physically reproduce abundantly, the specific call to men is to act in the image of God by reaching out in faith to their brothers. Thus, we are called to raise a holy army of the children of God…and the most important thing is how many new recruits we can raise to the cause, a crusade not to conquer but to heal – to reach dry land where men are eager to learn and reason prevails. Each soul is the battleground.
The biggest impediment to success is not the resistance of the angry left. The very failure of their doctrines and policies will make for fertile ground for evangelization among those in their number who retain the flimsiest thread of good will. Rather, the biggest impediment is our own vulnerability to losing heart. He who will be saved is he who endures to the end. Endure this year of judgment – and you will bring many with you.
The big question, then, for the coming year is this: whose eyes, God’s or the satan’s, will you see your fellows through?