By Charlie Johnston
(I have been very enthusiastic about my visits and talks this year. People are focused, serious, and ready to get active. Some have wondered why I seem so generally enthusiastic about the way the country is going. Quite bluntly, I am astonished at how rapidly and determinedly the pagan left is destroying itself. Yes, it seems like it it is seizing and manifesting power. Actually, it is like PeeWee Herman showing out in a bar room, trying to goad Arnold Schwarzenegger into a fight. It’s all fun and games for him while Schwarzenegger sits there wondering when this clown is going to sit down. But the more Herman agitates, the sooner the strong man will enter the fight – and when he does, the fight will be over quicker than PeeWee can imagine. Right now, he’s showing he will not sit down until he is made to. So most see PeeWee’s provocations coming at an amazingly accelerated pace while I see that it is almost over for delusional PeeWee.
All sorts of fantastical theories abound (even as some fantastical theories are being played out), a cacophony of prophetic voices rise, giving ever more specific detail and timelines, everything is politicized and everyone seeks some sort of inside knowledge to give them an edge in the plan they want to form. At best, either prophecy or analysis gives only a part of the picture – and you have to fill in the blanks with speculation. Sometimes the part you can see clearly can be deeply deceptive in figuring out what the rest of the picture is. I have always maintained that once the battle begins, the time for prophecy is over and the time for doing is arrived; the time for relentlessly taking the next right step with lithe and agile spiritual muscles; the time for standing up, declaring ourselves boldly and acting well in the moment as it unfolds. The battlefield is not the place for developing new plans, but acting with fidelity before God in the moment and trusting Him to flourish our actions.
That is why we formed CORAC, to unite an ever growing group of people across the country to work together to help each other and those upended by the Storm, sharing the basic skills and forming communities to weather the Storm and endure until God fully reveals His mighty hand in all this. We are called to act as a remnant, to treat it as a vocation to bring more joyfully back to God, that we may have an abundant harvest of renewed souls to offer with ourselves at the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart. CORAC is an organization for collective action in the religious, social, cultural and political spheres. Its focus is to discern calmly the import of what is happening around us in all these spheres and act effectively in the moment, always emphasizing how to bring more people back to the source of living water that brings life as old structures tumble around us.
I constantly emphasize that what we need as the battle has been revealed is less speculation and more doing. Back in the days when I was doing a lot of speculation, I said this would be the case when the battle began. Back in the day when I was doing a lot of politics, I often ran circles around opponents because, while they fearfully kept trying to figure out the absolutely perfect plan, my team was already on the move, doing things, making some mistakes, gaining some ground and adapting on the move. It was how we were able on several occasions to score big upsets. Perpetual planning is a formula for perpetual paralysis. Trust God in the moment as you act.
Seven years ago I wrote the piece below, “Through a Glass Darkly,” to explain why even in times of calm, speculative prophecy is not a certain thing – but how when the battle begins, it can quickly become a deadly distraction. This version is very heavily edited, taking out any personal mystical experiences. This version is a meditation on prophecy, itself – its uses and its dangers. I think it is a useful meditation now, a cautionary injunction on what is prudent and may flourish as the battle is joined and what is futile, what will build up and what will tear down. -CJ)
Authentic prophecy is always an invitation from God. It is an invitation to remember His goodness in times past, to see His mercies in times present, to come back to Him with our whole heart, and to call others to do the same. It is guidance on how to act in particular times and circumstances to accomplish this. It is assurance that He is there, that He loves us, that He wants us back, and that He will walk with us if we heed Him. It is an invitation first to the one called to prophesy, and then to all who will hear. It is an invitation to come to God and participate with Him in His gathering of His children. The most important part of prophecy is its call for what we should do.
It is a great achievement of the devil that he has seduced so many into reducing prophecy to fortune-telling, a sort of mystical mystery theatre in which most act as passive spectators, choosing the character on-stage who best appeals to their interests, beliefs and vanity – then sitting back and enjoying the show. God calls you to act, to act with Him, to act selflessly to rescue His children from despair and disorder. If the emphasis of any mystic is on what will happen rather than what you are called to, it is a diversion, not prophecy. Authentic prophecy is active, requiring you to stretch out your heart and your mind to God and to stretch out your hand in solidarity with your fellows. It is not passive.
Many seem to think interpretation of prophecy is simply getting the narrative right, then charting it two-dimensionally. The foolishness of this reminds me of the ancient fable of the six blind men and the elephant. The Book of Revelation is fascinating for many reasons, not least of which that it presents the closest thing to a raw telling of what the mystic actually is shown than anything I have ever seen. Oh, there is plenty of interpretation in it to make it somewhat comprehensible to us, but St. John gives us a good look at much of the raw material he was working with. Revelation has been seriously studied by thousands of great saints and theologians – and there are almost as many variations in interpretation as there are people who have studied it seriously. There is a general consensus on some larger themes in it (though even here some things are hotly disputed) but there are huge disputes on the meaning of many of the details.
Now, as then, a glimpse into eternity does not produce a neat, little, linear narrative.
I gave you a hint of how it often works in my piece, “Into the Whirlwind.” I described the cosmos, in part, in these words:
“Imagine that God showed Job our world, sparkling blue and green like some impossibly rare and precious gem, glittering with life and light. Then God shows Job the entire universe. Think of Job’s wonder at the billions of stars, comets, quarks and planets all pulsing and whirring, a symphony of light and rhythm…”
When you are shown, when you get a glimpse into eternity, it is like that. Trillions of parts all pulsing and whirling, traveling at different speeds and directions, often changing speeds and directions. It is like a three-year-old trying to make sense of the working of a nuclear reactor. At the most elementary level, you try to discern the convergence point of several different elements. It is a game that appeals to your vanity – kind of like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube writ large. Except it is impossible. Things change speeds and direction regularly. After a while, if you are wise, you largely drop that effort and focus on patterns that emerge. While you can’t discern all – or even many – of the details, you can see the larger trends they form.
There are several complications even in this. First, some things are symbolic and some are literal – and it can be difficult to recognize the difference. Some things can’t be changed; others are changed dramatically by our response. It is similar to a cruise liner sinking in the open ocean. Once it reaches a certain point in its distress it is certain to sink. It is almost certain that some people will die. How many will die, though, depends on the behavior of those caught in the catastrophe. If everyone is in panic and acting in an “every man for himself” way, many will die. If many are steady and resolute, they can help others do the same and many lives will be saved.
Meantime, there is a huge disconnect between how things appear here and how they appear there. We come up with clever schemes we think will solve problems – and most don’t even make a dent in the heavens. The sincere and humble prayer of a single person can change multitudes. When you get a cohort of people praying – and living the prayer of doing, of denying their own appetites and caring for those around them tenderly, it can change the trajectories of entire realms of those moving parts. If you knew the power of sincere, humble prayer and doing the little right in front of you, you would eagerly live it well. The machinations of those in power are mere sparklers in comparison to the majestic, tidal power of a single sincere and humble prayer.
Obviously, I explain this allegorically to you. I do it to give you some sense of what it is like, not what it is. Applied to current times, the Storm is something that is set, it must be fulfilled. But the intensity and duration of it can change based on our response. Some things about it have already changed. The intensity was increased by our determination to persist in rebellion; the duration of its fullness has been decreased because of the rise, often quietly, of renewed faith and fidelity among many who have already despaired of hope in human devices. There are far more troops out there ready to answer the call. Even in the midst of the Storm, we have entered into a great Christian revival. What God intends is that you live it and bring the hope that is in Him to those around you. If you do that well, it will spread like wildfire. It is not sufficient that you be right, but that you be effective, which means you must bury your ego. If you simply browbeat those around you, so they run away from the faith, you have utterly failed. If you never defend the faith when it is assaulted, you have utterly failed.
I am very careful in dealing with my critics. If they seem animated by a restless malice – or a vanity to prove themselves right – I largely ignore them. If they are serious, perhaps pointed, but showing no signs of malice or vanity, I try to answer them well – sometimes provocatively, sometimes gently. Many of my honorable critics have helped refine my thinking. But the key reason is that I am not sent primarily to say, but to do: to give heart to people, assurance that God is right at hand to them, in the midst of a great crisis in world and salvation history that they may endure until rescue. I am responsible for doing that for my critics, as well, insofar as it can be done, as for everyone else. So I largely refrain that their malice or vanity does not fossilize around them – and when they see God act, they may take firm hold of Him, whatever they think of me.
When I hear purported private revelations, there are certain things I watch for. Does it sound primarily like a running commentary on current events? While authentic prophecy does touch on some current events, its focus is always on the eternal and what our response to it should be. So if it sounds like a radio talk show, it may have value, but it is not prophecy. Does it have heavenly beings profusely condemning various people or peoples? In my entire life, I have never heard Our Lord or Our Lady speak in bitter condemnatory tones about anyone. I have only heard the angels speak with contempt for one person, one time. Often, they condemn sin, but there is a yearning sorrow, almost a lament at times, for their poor lost children The focus is always calling the children of the Kingdom back, not casting them into outer darkness.
I often hear people explain to me the meaning of various Biblical prophecy and private revelations. They give me their complex explanations for the two-dimensional linear narrative they have come up with. I usually listen politely but know that, like early Job, they have not entered into the whirlwind and have no clue that the things they speak of are too big for us – and not subject to linear narratives.
The key to everything in these times, after five decades of work, is not in the grandiose, but the simple. Acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to those around you. That is wisdom that will last and will not fail. Live this well and you are already part of the Rescue.