By Charlie Johnston
As it turns out, being sprinkled with ashes does not feel as solemn and serious as having your forehead thumbed with ashes by a Priest. It’s kind of like being anointed with silly string. Of course, one year into “two weeks to flatten the curve,” a lot of our religious practices seem more parody than liturgy. Most people have their special annoyances. I am also irritated that Holy Water has been removed from our Churches and replaced with hand sanitizer. Probably the invitation to make an appointment to attend Mass most agitates me. I have attended many Masses since Covid struck, but have attended none by appointment. It just seems contrary to our mission and to our commission – though some people I deeply respect disagree with me.
I sympathize with Bishops who are walking a fine line, trying to keep the Sacraments available without triggering even heavier government strictures. There was a time in this country – and within living memory – when officials and politicians feared sparking the ire of our Churches. Now our Churches fear sparking the ire of government. We are not better off for the reversal. It is also a sign of how truly enfeebled our religious sensibility has become that hostile pagan officials can smack Churches around with impunity.
I have no sympathy for the Vatican decree that all employees must take the gene-therapy vaccine or lose their job. Oppression from within comes as oppression from without is cresting. I can think of no more unchristian decree…except, perhaps, consigning orthodox Chinese Catholics to outer darkness while empowering their tormentors.
I have thought since the offering to the pagan goddess, Pachamama, was accepted on the altar of Christ by Pope Francis as a worthy thing, that there has been a fundamental breach in worship. It is not lost on me that this blasphemous offering was accepted just four months before fears of Covid blasted worship to near-catacomb style desperation throughout the world. And so, persecution must abide for a time, perhaps as a scourge for our lack of fidelity over many decades – and our lack of insistence on fidelity.
God does not abandon His people, even when He chastises them for a time. This time, renewal comes from the ordinary man. Keep faith, do the best that you can with the limited resources available to all now. I know that during the Triduum, I always feel forlorn and bereft during that period when the Crucifix is covered in our Churches and the altars are stripped. But we know that Easter is coming. Certainly, for the last year, it has felt like it is all Good Friday and no Easter. Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage and he will strengthen your heart.
The loss of Rush Limbaugh on Ash Wednesday was a great sorrow for many of us. I always listened to him while traveling on weekdays. He had no peer for his wit, good sense, and penetrating insight, all delivered with jolly good humor in entertaining fashion.
Young folks (and even most older ones) are not aware that Rush single-handedly saved AM radio. When I was young, AM Radio was for rock stations and almost all the popular stuff. FM was a small segment reserved for classical music and NPR-type stuff. As rock stations started gravitating to FM when the receiving technology for stereo sound became common, AM was becoming an afterthought – the home of “swap shops” and such. Rush Limbaugh was such a potent cultural force that he redefined AM radio – and rescued it from becoming a cultural artifact. Shoot, my years as a talk-show host were made possible in many ways by what Rush accomplished.
It is striking to me that two men I much admired died on such notable days. Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, translator of St. Faustina’s diaries and North American postulator of her cause, died on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes. He befriended me when many were on the attack. And then of course, Rush Limbaugh died on Ash Wednesday. I can’t help but wonder if God is trying to give us signs, but we just won’t see or hear.
While I am praying for my many friends in Texas, the biggest part of me thinks the storm and the troubles there are a sort of gift from above, a divine “inoculation,” if you will. Texas has its own energy grid – and its leaders are not terminally stupid.
There were many factors that came together for this perfect storm and no one of them can account for the totality of the crisis. A big part of it, though, is that as a sop to its “greenies,” Texas transferred a good chunk of its internal energy production over to “green” technologies, even while sitting on more efficient oil and natural gas than almost any nation in the world. This is something akin to funding the office accounts at Rothschild Industries through bake sales. Texans may decide that some of the things that could have ameliorated the problems are too expensive for such a freakish situation. It is not always prudent to pay every year to be hardened against a once-in-300-years-storm. You can choose instead to harden back-up systems and encourage preparation, such as fireplaces, wood stoves, and small generators, while ridding yourself of obvious problems that are mere political palliatives to a mouthy, but largely ignorant, segment of the population.
However it goes forward, because they have their own grid, Texas is uniquely poised to make its own assessment and decisions without much toxic “help” from the feds. I have confidence in the overall common sense of Texans, so I expect they will make prudent decisions that do not over-react to a “black swan” event while resolving to deliver energy in an efficient and reliable way – and encouraging people to be prepared for the unexpected.
So why is this a perverse form of godsend? The delusions of the occupying force that now holds power in Washington are leading them to do the stupidest things they can with energy, making it unreliable and hideously expensive by shutting down the most efficient forms which America holds in abundance. What happened in Texas is coming to the entire country in the next few years – and the feds are doing exactly the things that will compound the crises yet to come. Texas can and will take the lead in developing rational, efficient energy policy that will be a boon to its citizens as America hits the wall, an example of how to confront and overcome such crises brought on by mindless nihilism, and perhaps even a haven for some fleeing from states devastated by the tender care of our Washington overlords. Thank God for Texas, destined to be one of our greatest natural resources during the crises to come.
I have said a couple of times that the mRNA technology used in the gene therapy known as Covid vaccines changes our DNA. That is incorrect. It does not change the physical structure of the DNA, but reformats how it responds to certain challenges – changes its behavior. To put it in simple form, it does not change the hardware, but alters the software.
It is NOT a vaccine, it is gene therapy. It creates what are called “spike proteins” that are always on the lookout for the Covid virus and then mount a furious attack on it. It is experimental and has had no long-term human studies. There have been studies in some animals going back years. They weren’t promising, for the most part. In one involving cats, all the cats ultimately died when confronted with the actual virus the “spike protein” was supposed to protect against, because the protein went hyper-aggressive and killed the cat, itself. Hopefully, that was a distinct outlier which modified behavior too heavily. But the studies I have seen from the animal trials suggest that getting this vaccine might be akin to injecting yourself with time bombs set to explode when you are confronted with the actual virus you are supposed to be fighting. Thankfully, a lot of those time bombs are apparently duds.
Even so, early reports from the United Kingdom show that there are an extensive variety of adverse reactions that have shown up to the gene therapy (vaccine) even before the time bombs have had the opportunity to go off. Frankly, I have read some material that makes my hair curl and that I don’t share because I don’t want to be overly alarmist.
Yet we have an experimental therapy that was rushed through development that the pharmaceutical companies refused to make unless they were exempted from any liability for any adverse reactions. What could go wrong? Maybe the companies have solved all the problems and maybe it will work out just fine. But given the dicey nature of almost all aspects of this, to require people to take the gene therapy or be fired – as the Vatican has done and some companies and countries are threatening – is not just hubris. It is a sin.
But as persecution and coercion widens, that is the acid test of both our faith and our commitment to liberty. Others can consign themselves to the tender mercies of people like Andrew Cuomo and Bill Gates – but I am taking a hard pass. And anyone who tries to force me convicts himself. I am convinced that this is going to prove to be the greatest unforced medical disaster in history. And I do pray that I am completely wrong on this.
Just a thought: when Jesus says some demons can only come out through prayer and fasting, I think it means more than we usually think. We have a rather impoverished view of what fasting is. We tend to think of it only as refraining from certain foods. Yet I think that any serious and sustained mortification is a form of fasting: actively denying ourselves what is otherwise enjoyable or even good. So, I have long thought that the injunction that both prayer and fasting must be involved is an injunction that supplication must be combined with action – the prayer of doing as well as of asking. I may be making an overbroad definition of fasting in contrast to the over-narrow definition most subscribe to, but I think it worthy of contemplation. Particularly in these times, when the winds of demonic disorder are rising to a shrieking howl.
Many of my colleagues, both here and at CORAC – and some family, as well, are undergoing deep crises in their lives. Most of these are people who endeavor to carry their crosses quietly so that they don’t become a burden to others – and who just keep on keeping on. I know many of you are suffering the same. As if it is not enough that our country and the world around us are undergoing a violent breakdown, it is hitting in very intimate, personal ways as well. Never fail to lift each other up in prayer. I pray for my family, friends, the ASOH and CORAC communities daily – but of late I have had a lot of specific prayer intentions go up. Lift each other up. Care for the spiritually wounded even as you bear your own wounds through His grace.
Some of you have noted that you cannot access the video of my Cherry Hills talk from a week and a half ago. You have to log in to your CORAC account to do so. If you don’t have one yet, just go to the signup page and join. There is no fee involved. I have had a few people who have some measure of prominence tell me that they don’t want to share their larger contact info. I’m working on a workaround to that problem. Note, too, that your login for the site and for the Forum are two different things. Both are important, as the Forum is becoming a key place to share information and regional updates.
I wrote a brief note to Melissa MacKenzie, publisher of the American Spectator last week. She asked if she could share it in her weekly subscriber newsletter and, of course, I agreed. I was tickled that she even kept in my signature closing, “Ave Maria, Stella Maris!” If you are not familiar with the Spectator, it is one of my go-to sources. My favorite columnists there are David Catron, for his solid political acumen and Melissa Mackenzie, who always writes with great heart and courage. She has the deep humility of knowing she does not have all the answers, the courage to write what she candidly believes, and the fortitude to do the most right thing she can think of in all circumstances. Below is an excerpt from her latest newsletter: