By Charlie Johnston
The symbolism in the fire that destroyed much of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on the first day of Holy Week is so starkly obvious that almost everyone, including secular commentators, have opined about it. It is a metaphor both for the faithlessness that stalks the Church and for the precipitous decline of Western Civilization. I had an even greater shock as prelude to my Holy Week. I learned something about Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry that so shocked me it robbed me of sleep and peace for much of the weekend. It will become fully public knowledge sometime in the next few months. When it does, I think it will be a death knell for the industry. It certainly will facilitate criminal prosecution and cause even low-information observers to recoil in horror. If you think the left’s advocacy of infanticide was bad, you have only begun to scratch the surface. However bad you think Planned Parenthood is, it is worse than that.
Western Civilization was not a great culture because the people who built it were specially anointed, but because they adopted real prudence in making large policy decisions and because they recognized certain rights endowed to us by God, defended those rights, and gave their fealty to Christian principles, following the Lord in humble worship. Now we celebrate absurdities, mistaking willfulness for freedom, lust for love, and ‘spirituality’ for faith. We deny the objective reality of marriage, family life, sexuality and even gender, itself. Followers of a political and theological ideology are filled with a demonic zeal, determined to raze the temple, to bring it crashing down on all our heads. Once again, man has “lifted himself up against God, and sought to attain his goal apart from Him.” (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, #13)
That is why the picture above this article is so profound. The demonic zealots will probably succeed in leading us into intense and bloody strife for a time, destroying much of what many generations of faithful men and women have built over several millennia. Yet when you destroy the culture, when you rip society apart, when the temple is brought crashing down, the Cross of Christ remains. It is the instrument of our salvation.
The madness that has infected the globe bears down on us like an approaching comet bringing wreck and ruin in its wake. The only means of emerging from the rubble and rebuilding a just society is this same Cross of Christ that remains, amidst the ruins, as our hope.
Over the last decade, God has given us an abundance of signs in the sky, rumblings in the earth, tremors portending a great fall. We don’t listen.
God was willing to spare Sodom if Abraham could find as few as 10 righteous people in that benighted city (Genesis 18:16-33). I pray that all might repent, but increasingly I fear that some have given themselves entirely over to depravity, seduced by the satan’s false promises. It is not that they can’t hear God, but that they won’t hear Him. When the people of Moab revolted against the God of Israel, turning to strange gods and erecting profane altars, God sent Elijah to confront them – and sent fire from the heavens to consume both the profane altars and the soldiers who guarded them (2 Kings 1:1-16). Yet the last captain sent from the idolatrous king repented – and God spared him and his men.
In the Book of Esther, the evil Chancellor, Haman, erected a gallows on which he planned to hang Mordecai, elder of the Jews, as prelude to the murder of all the Jews in the kingdom of Persia. Haman forgot (if he ever knew) that all power flows from the hand of God. In the end, Haman was hanged on the very gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. The Jews were spared and those who plotted their doom, destroyed.
A desperate struggle, a real fight, is almost certainly ahead of us. If we fight on purely secular terms as though it were a political struggle, we will descend into an orgy of violence – becoming the flip side of the same secular coin that features the malevolent image of the anti-God left. If we simply engage in mental prayer, refusing to live the prayer of doing, we invite a holocaust against us. When she was being examined before ever going out to battle, St. Joan of Arc was asked by learned Churchmen why, if God intended France to survive, did she not just leave it to Him. She replied that it was for us to fight the battles and Him to grant the victory. So it has been with every noble soldier of God for eons. So it will be for us now.
We are called to be true soldiers in a great battle of purification, but are called to be evangelists in the midst of it. We seek not the destruction of those who would destroy us, but their reclamation. If they will not repent, or at least leave us be, then there can be no compromise, only victory. The faith and freedom of our children and of all the families to come depend on it. We will be judged a century hence by our descendants on where we stood in these great and decisive battle between good and evil – and whether we stood at all. Follow St. Joan’s lead and call our opponents to repent – or depart from us.
God is calling us ever more insistently. Will you hear Him now? Or will you wait for fire to fall from the heavens?