By Charlie Johnston
Jesus died for us boldly and in public. He asks of us, in return, to boldly and publicly proclaim Him and His Kingdom.
If you haven’t checked out the CORAC Newsletter, you are missing a lot of good, solid information put together by Sheryl Collmer, its managing editor, every two weeks. That is one of the many good reasons to join CORAC. (Another is that it is free). We are a week into our summer fundraising drive – and it has started out a little slow. Small wonder with the intense pressures all of us are facing in the Biden economy. But we do need your help to keep the good work we have started going. Won’t you help us celebrate our two-year anniversary by donating today?
In each of our issues of the CORAC Newsletter, I write a column to kick things off. This last issue it was entitled, “Proclaim the Kingdom.” I think it is a piece we should all contemplate so I repeat it here:
“The only thing powerful enough to sustain a noble purpose until the end is love. Vanity won’t do it: it withers when it is not noticed. Vengeance won’t do it: it eats away at the heart until it has mutilated the soul. Greed won’t do it: the more it gains the more it craves, until there is no room left for any purpose other than greed.
All the motivations encompassed by the seven deadly sins are focused inward: how can I satisfy myself. They eat away at the self even as they are exerted. Love looks outward: how can I care for those around me. This is the beginning of love.
St. Augustine said, “You Have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Some insightful men have paraphrased this to describe a hole in the heart that can only be filled by God. The deeper your love for God, the deeper your love for your fellows, and the more you will trust that God knows how to handle all things most efficiently.
Unlike the deadly sins then, which only make the hole in the heart bigger and more insatiable, when you fill that hole with God, you are both satiated and filled with purpose. You progressively lose that, ‘what’s in it for me’ bug that the satan is always trying to inflame in you, and become consumed with keeping faith with God and, thus, your fellows – His people.
A noble parent will die eagerly to save his child. (And yes, I know to my sorrow, that some modern parents care little for their children except as fashion accessories). Expand the love you have for your children to as many of your fellows as you can and you tap into the unending source of fuel needed to endure all pains and surmount all obstacles in your quest for what is noble and what is true.
Everywhere I go, almost everyone I know is walking on eggshells, waiting for the bottom to fall out of the leaky tub we find ourselves in. Some get lost in the firehose of dysfunction that surrounds us, decrying each evil as if we could just end that one all would be well. It is like complaining that the faucet doesn’t work when the house is ablaze: true as your outraged observation may be, it is not terribly relevant to the issue at hand.
Others get caught up in nostalgia, hoping that if we could just get back to some critical piece of the good old days, all would be well. That drives some of the enthusiasm for the Traditional Latin Mass, something I have a lot of sympathy for. The reality is that many of the most faithful Catholics adore the Latin Mass – and in growing numbers. But it is a self-selected group. People like to go to the Latin Mass because many of the most orthodox people go there – and as things get crazier, it is where a lot of orthodox people feel most safe.
But back in the day, it was not a self-selection of orthodox folks. It was everybody – and the very disorders that bedevil us now took root and sprouted in the culture where the Latin Mass was the only option. As Shakespeare said, the problem is not in our stars but in ourselves. The problem has become not that a particular element is out of whack and that, if we can fix that, all will be well. Everything is out of whack. The house is ablaze – and fixing the faucet is not going to change that.
We are at the very edge of some cataclysmic change. It may not be as dire as I think it will be, but it will be comprehensive. The ship of state is not in for a tune-up; it is about to undergo a complete overhaul.
Now is the time to truly trust God and do the little we can that is right in front of us. Obsessing over a fragment of the disorder or yearning for a better time is not a way of dealing with the problem. It is a form of escapism that creates an illusion of useful advocacy.
I operate from the assumption that things are too far gone and all is coming down for a time. So I deal with those dysfunctions I can that are right in front of me, but my focus is on the things we will need and can do together to rebuild and renew under God after all seems lost. Figure out where you will get your basics – water, food, shelter – and how you can band together to extend those necessities to those around you. That is what will put us in position to grow together whatever happens.
It is fearful because we do not know exactly how it will all happen. But that is a feature, not a bug. God wants us to rely on Him more without failing to do the little that we can with our neighbors, with love for each other. Trust me: when we give him that little fish of our trust with the tiny part we can do, He will use it to feed a multitude. Divine love grows to fill our lives. We will do what we can BECAUSE we love, trusting that whatever outcome God allows will forward the Kingdom.
If I am to live, may I live for Christ. If I am to die, may I die for Christ. However God disposes things, with this sort of love, the Kingdom is unstoppable. Let us all go forth and bear fruit that will last.”
Our dear friend and former CORAC Region 7 Coordinator, Bill Hammer, was laid to rest on Thursday after dying suddenly last week. It was an amazingly classy and deeply moving ceremony. Fr. Daniel Hammer was joined by a good 20 or more of his brother Priests – and Duluth, MN Bishop Daniel J Felton was there quietly for the entire service, funeral and memorial luncheon. Bill’s family is obviously hurting a lot, but in the midst of the pain of loss, they remembered the joy he brought all of us.
Bill’s youngest son, Micah, gave a eulogy and told the story of when he had cut his finger badly and asked his Dad if he were going to die. “Yes!” Bill said, “but not today.” I could hear Bill saying it. It reminded me of when Bill was considering taking on the role of Regional Coordinator. Riding alone with me in the car, he said, “I think some of what you say is pretty nutty, but I think the things you do will help a lot of people.” It was not the most rousing endorsement I ever heard and did not lead me to expect much. But boy, did Bill become one of the most energetic and committed evangelists of CORAC in the country!
May he rest in peace and may all of us follow his example and proclaim the kingdom that is even now bursting anew among us!
If communication goes out for any length of time, meet outside your local Church at 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings. Tell friends at Church now in case you can’t then. 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.
Find me on Twitter at @Charlie62394802
The Corps of Renewal and Charity (CORAC)
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