By Charlie Johnston
I am in Lake Charles, Louisiana today, the day of the Consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The last time I was here was for the Revelation 12 sign in the sky. It was also here, while walking on my pilgrimage, that a disturbed young man followed me into the woods where I made camp to threaten me with a pistol. Sadly, because of serious flooding damage from hurricanes, it has been five years since I have been here, a place of great portent for me. And today’s consecration is a great day again.
Consecration is always a good thing. It is especially good now for Russia and Ukraine. As you know, I believe that the current Ukrainian crisis has revealed that the globalists – and the American Deep State – do not want peace. They avoid all avenues that could lead to peace, instead instigating things that inflame the situation, while giving peace lip service. I think that both Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin have been stunned with the dawning realization that their supposed major supporters want to push them into fuller war rather than helping them to find peace and justice. If peace will come, it must come through Putin and Zelensky. I pray on this day of consecration that these two leaders will be inspired by Our Lady to fully understand this and speak together while their “friends” seek to inflame them; that they will negotiate a just and lasting peace that will secure the historical, cultural integrity of Ukraine while addressing legitimate Russian security concerns. More than this, I pray that the two nations will become so closely allied that Russia will offer substantial financial and development aid to Ukraine, substantial enough that Ukraine can declare its independence from corrupt U.S. officials who have forced it to enable corruption in order to remain honeypot and money laundering haven for those officials’ friends and family. What a blow real peace and justice would strike to globalist dreams of a “new world order” where they would rule over all!
I know there is a faction in the Church which believes this is “finally” the consecration Our Lady asked for at Fatima. This faction is already parsing for “errors” in the consecration to pre-emptively explain why everything doesn’t suddenly become sweetness and light. I am untroubled by this because I fully accept that the 1984 consecration by St. John Paul was accepted by heaven, as Sister Lucia said it was. This consecration is a glorious and noble thing in its own right.
I have long told friends and Priests close to me that if we were the sort of people who would have hearkened to Fatima’s message, there would have been no need for the appearances in the first place. God knew that we would not hearken to them. The promise was that if this consecration was done along with the Communion of reparation on the first Saturdays, Russia would be converted, there would be peace, and Russia would not scatter her errors throughout the world. It was not done, there was war, and Russia scattered its errors throughout the world. That horse left the barn a hundred years ago. As Our Lady said, it would be done late – and so it was. The fact is, we can never do the consecration exactly as Our Lady said because it was time sensitive – and we did not until the consequences had already spread far and wide. Yet God does not abandon those who call on Him. A good and merciful parent, having given his teenage son proper directions to get from Kansas City to New Orleans will not, finding that the rascally son had taken a side trip to San Francisco, cast that son into outer darkness. However mad and disappointed he would be, he would give his son new instructions with hope that they would now be followed. Do you think the Father of all is less merciful and just than a random good father?
If the Father knew how far we had strayed from Him and knew we would not take the message of Fatima to heart, what was the purpose of it? I think it is a sort of lighthouse in the fog of confusion that has shrouded the world – a beacon to lead us back to Him. It would have spared us a lot of pain had we kept to the lighthouse in the first place – but it now calls us back to the safety of His bosom. While a secular world has missed the message entirely and studiously avoids looking in its direction, I think a lot of otherwise pious people have missed the message by obsessing over details for an opportunity that was lost a century ago.
It reminds me of a time I had planted tulip bulbs in the fall. In the spring, they were within days of blooming when my young children brought me some flowers – the un-bloomed tulip heads they had entirely cut into a bouquet for me. I was livid and went into a tirade with them, for now they could never bloom. Somewhere along the line, I noticed my son had vanished. Searching for him, I found him in the flower bed with a roll of Scotch Tape, earnestly trying to tape the tulip heads back onto their stalks. Oh, how it melted my heart! My friends, the head of this tulip was removed a century ago, and all the tape in the world won’t put it back again. But I have no doubt that God’s heart is moved by the frantic, if misguided, efforts to go back and do it right. Instead of frantically trying to tape the head back to the stalk, let us resolve this Lent to abandon silly vanities, to foreswear magical thinking, and to trust in the Father’s love.
Fr. Clinton Sensat, pastor at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Eunice, Louisiana in the Diocese of Lafayette, wrote a magnificent Facebook post on this, which I reprint here in its entirety:
“Lent is a time to acknowledge and turn from sin. One sin I don’t think we acknowledge nearly enough is the sin of superstition.
I don’t mean black cats, Friday the 13th, broken mirrors, or walking under ladders. I also don’t mean psychics, astrology, and Ouija boards, though those things are sinful and closer to my point. I mean instead a relationship with God based on magical thinking and manipulation. As St. Thomas Aquinas says, superstition is a violation of the virtue of religion.
And religion is about being fair to God.
I often encounter the false religion of superstition passing as Catholic faith. “Unless I do this novena at exactly 9:00 AM, it won’t work.” “If I accidentally forget to do my Lenten penance, all of Lent is ruined and God will punish me.” “If I bury this statue of St. Joseph upside down in my yard my house will sell faster.” “The Church will never prosper until the Pope names Mary co-redemptrix.” The examples multiply like flies on midden.
What they all have in common is a relationship with God based on manipulation. Either God is a manipulative abuser who will not bless us unless we do every ritual step exactly right, or our prayers can be used to force God to act.
On March 25th, Pope Francis will consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I’m entirely in favor of this. I believe that Mary’s prayers for us are powerful, that the world, and especially those war-torn countries, needs prayer, and that solemn acts of placing our trust in heaven are exactly the kinds of thing a pope should do. I am NOT in favor of it because I think it will finally fulfill the exact conditions of something akin to a magic spell that will automatically bring peace on earth.
And yet, if my Facebook feed is any indication, that’s all people care about. Not whether this is a sincere act of prayer. Only whether it fulfills exactly the conditions Mary asked for at Fatima over a century past.
That’s not faith. It’s superstition.
Let me hasten to add that if Mary asks for something we should do what she asks, in the way she asks. But the idea that she’s allowed this present war because the 1984 consecration wasn’t done exactly as she requested is something I find morally monstrous. Has she refused to pray for us because a sainted pope didn’t dance precisely the right steps? Do the wails and cries of the Ukrainian people count for nothing unless a hundred-year-old formula is followed to the letter? Is her Immaculate Heart truly so petty?
And even if she were, would a just and loving God allow that to continue?
Many times in recent years I’ve heard, “Relationship, not religion.” That’s always struck me as along the same line as saying, “Boundaries don’t matter when you love someone,” or, “Friends should never say no,” or “Yes, he was abusive, but he was SO devoted to her!” Love embraces justice; it doesn’t toss it in the dumpster. And religion is about being fair to God. It’s about our boundaries, our responsibilities, our duties to God. Relationship doesn’t replace religion. Religion is what makes our relationship with God healthy.
Superstition is an anti-religion. It paints a malicious picture of God. It tells people God is an abusive puppeteer, yanking our strings and making us dance for his sick pleasure. It depicts a God narrow-hearted, coldly committed to arcane rules, devoid of understanding or compassion, interested only in slavish obedience. If you don’t think that’s unfair to God, then I invite you to consider whether your notion of divinity matches the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Our God cares for us. Yes, there are real rules we must follow, but they are precepts of faith and virtue and health, not dictates of a tyrant. Right religion elevates; it does not shrivel. True religion expands the heart; it does not chain it with fear and punctilious performance. Revealed religion shows us a God of deep and boundless love. Superstition shows us a God small and mean, a god the exact same shape and size as our own anxieties.
Dear brothers and sisters, search your heart and see whether superstition cowers in the crevices. If it does, root it out, burn it up, consign it to destruction. And then use this Lenten journey to turn from the false and cringing god of superstition to the true and living God of right religion.”
Today I will drive a good chunk of the route I walked through southern Louisiana 11 years ago. It will be a mini-pilgrimage of prayer, nostalgia and joy. I will have dinner tonight in Lake Charles and then give a talk there tomorrow evening. There will be two large sets of people who will be disappointed in this consecration: those who have given themselves over to a peculiarly legalistic sort of magical thinking and those secularists who believe no graces will flow from it at all. It is a noble and worthy offering – and the graces it calls down from heaven will unfold over the coming months. I am grateful to Pope Francis for doing it.
If communication goes out for any length of time, meet outside your local Church at 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings. CORAC teams will be out looking for people to gather in and work with.
Find me on Gab at Charliej373 or at the CORAC group.
The Corps of Renewal and Charity (CORAC)
18208 Preston Rd., Ste. D9-552
Dallas, Texas 75252