It began some weeks before Christmas, a spike in conversations, phone calls, emails, snail mail with a constant theme: souls feeling crushed under the weight of anxiety, darkness, and doom.
While Christmas brought a few days of respite from the constancy of priests and laity from various countries speaking with or writing to me about what they were experiencing, world news in general with weather extremes, famine, unrest, war, economic chaos, simply underscored what so many were experiencing.
In particular those aware of and fully engaged in lives dedicated to intercessory prayer, seemed to frankly being given, or permitted to experience, external and interior sufferings unceasingly.
For several weeks now I have tried to be attentive to those who have spoken and written, to pray and listen, to watch vigilantly to world events and, with the help of Our Lady of Silence, strive to be deep in the silence of God.
One of the first “words” I heard interiorly was from an old hymn, popular in my childhood not just for revival meetings but even on Sundays!
Perhaps its most famous use during the war was at the end of the film: MRS. MINIVER!: “Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before. Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe….At the sign of triumph satan’s host doth flee….Like a might army moves the church of God….we are treading where the saints have trod……”
You don’t hear this hymn much anymore, certainly not since the 60’s when it was grossly misinterpreted as being a war-song, in the sense of battles between nations.
In truth it is a hymn rooted in Sacred Scripture, for example 2 Timothy 2:1-4: “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.”
Relativism, secular humanism, and just a basic fear of being a sign of contradiction in this modern, anti-Christian culture of darkness and death has made for throngs of the baptized so cowered by the surrounding culture they are afraid to grasp the above Pauline principle of the role of a true disciple of Jesus: oneness with Jesus in the struggle for the salvation of souls, for the transformation of this culture of darkness and death into a civilization of light, of life, of love.
Yes, equally sad and dangerous, are those Christians with such an apocalyptic bent who basically disdain other human beings, and while prophesying ‘the end is nigh’ don’t really yearn to see the beautiful face of Jesus returning, rather they want God to come and smack down those they deem to be the real sinners.
Thankfully each Holy Mass begins with recognition of our personal sinfulness and absolute need of Divine Mercy.
Jesus Himself cautions us in Mark 13:7: “And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is not yet.”
In his novel, published the same year as the horror of 9/11: THE CONSTANT GARDNER, John le Carré casts a critical an eye, long before the current economic chaos, towards the darker side of the emerging capitalist world order and puts these words in the mouth of one character: “And tuberculosis is mega-bucks: ask Karel Vita Hudson. Any day now the richest nations will be facing a tubercular pandemic and Dypraxa will become the multibillion dollar earner that all good shareholders dream of. The White plague, the Great Stalker, the Great imitator, the Captain of Death is no longer confining himself to the wretched of the earth. He is doing what he did a hundred years ago. He is hovering like a filthy cloud of pollution over the West’s own horizon, even if it is still their poor who are his victims.”
Virulent strains of TB are certainly present among the homeless in our larger cities, leprosy, and myriad other sicknesses plague the human family – yet the greatest disease, the most virulent plague destroying Western civilization in particular, and fueling the hatred of Islamists, diminishing the fabric of society, reducing entire populations below minimal replacement reality, and itself the bloodiest of wars, is the plague, the holocaust of abortion coupled with the systemic actions of government, media, which daily weaken the sacred institution of sacramental marriage and family life.
In Revelation chapter 6 we find revealed for us two devastating apocalyptic events which certainly, starkly, illuminate the reality of spiritual warfare in our day.
Rev. 6:5-8: “When he broke open the third seal I heard the third living creature cry out, ‘Come forward.’ I looked, and there was a black horse, and its rider held a scale in his hand. It said, ‘A ration of wheat costs a day’s pay, and three rations of barely cost a day’s pay. But do not damage the olive oil or the wine.’ When he broke open the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature cry out, ‘Come forward.’ I looked, and there was a pale green horse. Its rider was named death, and Hades accompanied him. They were given authority over a quarter of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and plague, and by means of the beasts of the earth.”
Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan ; ebola, leprosy, TB, AIDS; drought, extreme storms; massive unemployment, sovereign debt crippling entire nations; Islamist terrorism; homelessness, gang warfare: how can we deny we are at war?
Oh, Father, the nail has been hit on the head! You are so right when you say (I paraphrase)'the respite of Christmas'. It seems to be one constant onslaught outside our doors. The Face of Jesus? He is there, but He is quiet, His time has not yet come. You-know-who is having his day, and he is crushing the world, even as most people are loving the world. Father, thank you for your strong and brave voice, proclaiming against the darkness. The faithful are praying...
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