StudiObrien Advent 2008 newsletterFriday, December 5, 2008 8:34 AM
Posted on yesterday’s Lifes! ite News (the worldwide pro-life news service) there is a report of a talk I gave in Toronto two days ago. My remarks were about the difference between the “heroism” of Don Quixote and the authentic sanctified heroism of David facing Goliath. Both men confronted giants, each in a radically different way. If you would like to read the report, the link is:
While I was praying during the week following the U.S. federal election, it came to me that in the times to come we must be prepared to stand totally alone while all the world reviles us and misrepresents what we as Catholic Christians say.
Literally all the world? Well, I don’t think we have reached that point yet. Indeed the outcome of the election has galvanized a great many people of good will who until now have remained supportive of the pro-life movement but not directly involved. There is a new grass-roots marshaling of forces, much of it hidden, quiet, peaceful, but impelled by a love that is stronger than death. People are waking up to the meaning of what has happened, and in the privacy of their souls have made a ! decision to get involved: to resist. And more than resist: to become more active in building the civilization of love against all apparent odds.
Of course, the election has shaken us; but it should not dismay us. It seems to me that a mask has fallen off the face of things, and I expect that the nature of the war in which we are all involved—the Great War that will last until the end of time—is becoming more clear to many.
To reduce Obama's election to purely sociological factors, or to media power, or to confusion among voters, moral blindne! ss, et cetera, is to ignore the spiritual dimension, which has! played a major role during the past forty years in preparing the ground for this moment by manipulating human consciousness, and thereby deforming conscience (see Ephesians 6: 12). Large numbers of people have been deceived, and have acted upon the deceit for all manner of supposedly good reasons. The horror—can anyone still feel genuine horror?—the horror is that millions of baptized Christians have enabled the culture of death to make a quantum jump into unrestrained evil. Regardless of how they have justified this to themselves, the objective consequences of their choice will be a vastly increased number of murders in this land—murder being, by definition, the unjust taking of human life.
The call to be prepared to stand "alone" is about ! an interior condition that we must maintain, not only a resolve to defend truth against all odds, but an acceptance of the sorrows that will inevitably come when we encounter opposition. In part, this means that we will feel within ourselves a profound grief over the condition of the world, and even at times we will grieve over the condition of the particular churches that have either cooperated with, or have failed to resist, the spirit of murder (see Ezekiel 9). This is in contrast to the universal Church under Peter, which has been consistent, bold, prophetic in its resistance to falsehood and in its promotion of the culture of life.
But how are we personally to respond to the call to choose life—defend life, promote life—in every dimension of o! ur society? First, we must recognize the multitude of ways in ! which we have been paralyzed or blocked by our very selves. For many it is a case of habitual flight from “negative feelings” and fear of conflict, combined with feeding our habits of feeling good at all costs.
To grieve is a healthy thing. To be paralyzed by fear is not. To indulge in the rotten catharsis of hatred is very much not. We cannot judge the hearts of anyone who has participated in the evils of our times, including direct or tacit cooperation with murder. However, we must continue to speak about the objective realities. Part of our co-redemptive sufferings (see Colossians 1: 24 and 1 Corinthians 12: 26) will include not only the pains of bearing the hostility of a newly triumphalist "dictatorship of moral relativism" whenever we speak t! he truth, but also may at times include a sense of profound loneliness as all the world rejoices over the spread of evils that it does not recognize as evil. We may or may not be forced to literally lose everything for the sake of defending truth, but the willingness to do so must be foundational in our inner life, if we would hold the ground that has been given us to defend.
We are not alone in this struggle. We will never be alone. Jesus is with us until the end of time—suffering with us and in us and through us for the salvation of the world. There are many who now stand firm, and who will continue to stand firm, like Frodo in the face of the full wrath of Mordor. There are many who are formed by the mind of Christ, who do not allow thems! elves to be mesmerized and conditioned by the various palan! tirs through which the invisible “dark lord” enthralls the world. Of course, dramatic images of ourselves are a temptation of another kind, but we should always remember that we are something much more than a fictional hero; we are adopted sons and daughters of the Father. Christ in the Gospels tells us that we are the salt of the earth. Yet he also warns us that if salt loses its taste it becomes good for nothing but to be trampled underfoot. The trampling of faithful Christians by those who knowingly or unknowingly are against Christ, has begun. But let us not willingly throw ourselves under those feet.
As world consensus affirms what is good in Obama's coming reign while ignoring the massive amount of evil he will bring about, those who continue to voice ob! jections will more and more appear to be extremists. As the poles radically shift, the apparent center moves with them, and what was once considered by all civilized people to be reasonable and just will seem irrational and hateful.
Then comes the danger for those who are awake to the reality of our times: a spirit of resignation can take root as external evils spread, and after resignation comes the slide into either bitterness or apathy. To avoid these alternative reactions, we must always keep our eyes on the approaching victory of Christ, avoiding all compromises with false peace, and continuing to speak—and live—the truth.
At this time we must also beware of over-focus and a kind of "endlosung" mentality, even if a spiritualized one, the yearning for a kind of cosmic "final solution", for divine justice to come immediately, now, to burn it all up. That "great and terrible Day of the Lord" will come, soon or later, but it is not our part to long for it with disregard for the good of souls. Our mission is to work while the light lasts, because the salvation of many yet hangs in the balance. All too easily we can forget mercy and turn away from those who are alive in this world, thus letting ourselves fall into deeper resignation and from there a decline into passive isolationism. Followers of Christ must beware of such either/or traps. The third way, the Christian way, offers depth perception: that is, we work while the light lasts, indeed increasing our efforts in the new evangelization, even as we know from Scripture and the teachings of ! the Church that there will come a time when our efforts will be overwhelmed and appear to be defeated. Truly, the war is already won, but the final battles are (and will be) especially vicious, as Satan knows that his time is short.
Do we have a few short years left, or a decade, or perhaps a generation longer? We do not know. But unless mankind repents, the world as we once knew it will shortly become unrecognizable, even as it appears to be “normal” in the eyes of many. Keep in mind that we have been warned again and again by Christ and the prophets that when men call good evil, and evil good, then the end will come.
"As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man; they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Similarly, as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building. On the day when Lot left Sodom, fire and brimstone rained from the sky to destroy them all. So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed." (Luke 17: 26-37)
Even so, he also says:
“When you see these things begun to happen, look up, for your redemption is near a! t hand.” (Luke 21:28)
"The greater the darkness, the greater our confidence should be." (St. Faustina Kowalska)
And finally this reflection by a 14th century Dominican friar, John Tauler:
"You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed"
Jesus always promised his disciples peace, both before his death and after his resurrection, always peace (John 14:27; Luke 24:36). Never did the disciples receive this peace outwardly, but they garnered peace in suffering, in their struggles and love and, in death, they found life. They found joyful victory, too, when before this death they were interrogated, judged and condemned. They were true witnesses.
Yes, there are many who are filled with sweetness in body and soul, penetrating even to the marrow and veins, but when there follows suffering, darkness, interior and exterior abandonment, then they no longer know what to do with themselves. They come to a full stop and, from that, there issues nothing. When terrible storms come upon them, interior abandonment, exterior temptations from the world, the flesh and the Enemy, whoever is able to go through it all will find the profound peace that no one can take away from them. But whoever does not take this path is left behind and will never taste true peace. From this you know who are Christ's true witnesses.
Holy peace and grace and confidence in our Lord Jesus, "the One"!
Some reflections by a cross-section of Catholic authors:
Pope Benedict XVI: address during hismeeting with Catholic bishops of the U.S.A., 16 Apr! il 2008:
Dr. Mark Miravalle, professor of Theology, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio; president of the worldwide apostolate Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici: "Post-election Commentary: the Remedy":
Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International: "Catholic Culture and the Election of Barack Obama":
John-Henry Westen, editor of LifesiteNews.com: "U.S. Bishops’ Stark Warning to Obama":
Mark Mallett, Catholic musician, essayist, lay evangelist: "What if?":