I drove from west central Illinois today up to the Chicago area. It was pleasantly nostalgic to be driving roads I had driven hundreds of times before. I passed by places where we had had picnics and gatherings in my political days – and a memorable debate site. Passed through Galesburg, where I once had my favorite apartment ever. Once I got into the Chicago area, I was chatting briefly with a young woman – and she brought up the subject of the absurd masking mandates and shutdowns near Chicago. I asked her if she ever wondered why the states which have had the lightest touch and fewest restrictions are getting so much better results than the areas that locked down hard. She surprised me by saying she HAD noticed that and was wondering why. So I told her. She muttered, “Stupid politicians.” The woman could not have been out of her twenties. If the young folks are figuring it out, it is just about over for the ignorant, bossy authorities.
I am a big supporter of refuges, properly understood. Several of my key lieutenants own or have funded places that can be used as refuges. I am, however, adamantly opposed to – and even horrified by – the narrative that has steadily risen of the Lord establishing refuges where the faithful are going to be taken to sit out the storm while everyone else gets whacked. I think it not only contrary to what God intends for us and calls us to, but deadly dangerous to the faithful. How many people would go into complete despair when no angel came to lead them to a refuge? How many could be physically harmed waiting for an angel that doesn’t come? I say there are no good boys and girls to be taken away – that we all bear significant responsibility for the disorder that has come into the world and the Church. Most of us have not ever actively tried to undermine the faith, but over several generations we have failed to effectively defend it. The “angels gonna come and take you to a place of safety” meme is not only a delusion: I believe it is a satanic deception trying to lure people into what would be a fatal complacency. Frankly, I think it is just a Catholic version of the rapture – a doctrine that took root in some Protestant circles two hundred years ago. The true refuges will be headquarters, command centers, and outposts of the City of God, places where God’s people can actively coordinate to defend the faith, hearten the faithful, and defend the faithful.
A friend sent me something he had read a couple of days ago and wanted my take on. He was so impressed with my response, he told me I should post it here. Since it is something I have been thinking about, anyway, I decided to do so. I have edited the letter to obscure the identity of both the friend and the piece he was asking about. Following is that letter:
“…I am sorry, but one of my frustrations of the last two months is that mystical religious writers seem to me to be adding their own glosses (unintentionally in many cases) driven by their own fear and despair. I understand that as everything is so close. I, myself, pushed myself to the brink of dangerous exhaustion which finally hit this last week – so I very much get it. But these are people who have the greatest duty to stay steady. Ah well, I was told way back in the 90’s that in these times, the minds of even some of the best will be clouded over. I take some comfort in the fact that even a great prophet, Jeremiah, was prone to nearly unhinged panic attacks.
“…the bottom line is that some have gone so far into rebellion that they will never turn back – and so are lost. That is a source of great sorrow. In my life, I have gone through a progression – God let me deceive myself because there were certain realities I couldn’t bear until I had sufficient training. For most of my life I thought the storm could be averted. Then I thought if I pushed hard enough, we still had a chance to avert it, unlikely as it was (this was my default position for most of the 90’s – as I frantically tried to forestall the storm). Then I was given the understanding that the storm could NOT be averted and was, in fact, a great blessing – the very means by which we could be renewed. A sort of divine chemotherapy, if you will. And then I was under the illusion that all living could be reclaimed and renewed, so I dedicated myself to that. It was just in the last five or six years that I was given to understand that many have made an existential choice to deny God (and) His sovereignty over them. It is as foolish and self-destructive as denying water’s sovereignty over your thirst, but there it is. It gave me a much deeper understanding of the agony in the garden – to realize that Jesus knew that, despite the magnitude of His gift and His passion, many would still never accept Him and life – and would go on to perish. It has been a deep sorrow for me, as well. But I have no time for that. I have seen how the old crumbles away – and some of the most faithful think all is lost – when it is actually what is outside of faith that is crumbling. We are getting unhinged by the sight of the winds and waves which seem to be threatening us. I think some who have some genuine mystical gifts are seeing, for the first time, the magnitude of the trial and of the losses to come – and are unconsciously trying to manufacture safe havens for the faithful as a warning. But we must NOT retreat from the battle. It is where God intends us to be. It is, in some ways, our penance for our infidelity over many generations. Many will be lost. But we do not know who those souls who will be lost are and which souls can be reclaimed if we will only answer the Master’s call to us and repeat the call to them. Truly, this is the time when we must be in the world but not of the world – and call as many as will hear to join us. The only refuge is in Mary’s Immaculate Heart – and if we retreat from the battle to seek physical refuge just to protect ourselves, we adopt an “every man for himself” attitude that is displeasing to God and contrary to what He intends for those of us who claim we will be steadfast in His service. We are sent – and we must go forth and remain steadfast in the going. (Some are falling prey to the temptation) of Jonah, seeking to hide from God and avoid the mission he was sent on.
We are witnessing the destruction of the satanic empire on earth – and almost unnoticed by us is the beginning of real renewal. WE are called to be the tools by which God accomplishes that renewal – and we must be fruitful and multiply our number (yes, that passage is not just about physical children, but about a great spiritual harvest that we are called to gather). If we retreat to the toolshed that we may be safe from the storm, with what tools shall those who might hear be called to renewal? If everyone who calls on the name of the Lord in the world were to retreat to supposed safety, I will remain in the midst of the storm, calling to all who can hear. And I would say to every mystic that, yes, it is a lot tougher and uglier than you had at first imagined but this is no time for retreat. Man up and give everyone who can hear heart to do Our Lord’s bidding and GO FORTH into all the world and call His people back to Him.
Sorry, I get very upset when people, seeing how rough it really is, think abandoning our call will provide us safety. That is a subtle temptation from the devil, himself, urging leaders to quit the battle and encourage others to do the same. Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!
Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He writes on cultural, global and political issues from an orthodox Catholic perspective. He emphasizes that we find God most surely through the ordinary, doing the little things we should with faith and fidelity. His constant refrain is that, to live real joy, we must acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to those around us. He lives in the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States.
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