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Chapter 16 of Revelation is not for the faint of heart, nor
for those of arrogant heart, for it details, albeit replete with symbolism but prophetically
nonetheless, what will – not might but will – befall humanity if we fail to repent
and change our ways: the experiences of Divine Justice Wrath culminating in the
battle between evil and good, light and darkness, life and death in the place
A reader after the last post asked me to explain why I think
“we could have another world war in these times”.
There are two reasons, multi-layered: 1] Political cowardice
and 2] Universal/Personal sin.
In the late thirties in the lead up to Hitler’s invasion of
Poland, Mussolini’s aggression in Africa, Japan’s in China and eventually at
Pearl Harbour, political leaders among the former allies from WWI were great at
issuing statements, ‘red lines’ if you will while progressively the Axis
Powers, led by Hitler, slaughtered their own people and moved aggressively,
again with much loss of life, against their neighbours.
Stalin’s Soviet Empire, until turned against by Hitler, took
as much as possible while sending hundreds of thousands of people to the Gulag
and earlier starving millions of Ukrainians.
When Hitler sent his armies into places such as Rhineland,
in violation of the Versailles Treaty, crossing a line not unlike the ‘red line’
Syria crossed, the political cowardice of world leaders simply emboldened
Hitler: so Austria and the Sudetenland were taken over – world leaders, lead by
Chamberlain, caved in.
Obama caved on Syria, he and most G7 leaders, [only the
Prime Minister of Canada has actually gone to Kiev to show solidarity with the
people of Ukraine], are less than definitive, dare I say powerful, in their
stand against the bully Putin.
This weak response, to date, is little by little emboldening
others throughout the world who lust after the land, resources, and people in
When the Soviets tried to starve West Berlin into submission
the Allies reacted and flew in needed supplies clearly telling the Soviets to
Under the first President Bush when Kuwait was invaded a coalition
of nations, including Arab countries, quickly came together and dealt with the aggressor
and liberated Kuwait.
No one wants another world war but we could have one by
attrition in the sense that allowing Putin/Russia to seize and hold onto the
Crimea not only will embolden Putin to grab more but tells the Iranians and
North Koreans, no worries if you develop nuclear weapons, or if by use of ‘conventional’
force you Iran take over Iraq or you North Korea take over the South – no worries,
we G7 and others will throw our verbal temper tantrums, but no worries que sera,
Once Obama backed down when Syria crossed the red line and
used chemical weapons on its own people this was not only for the President but
for the world a Munich/Chamberlain moment.
I believe we have very little time to reverse that cowardice
before Putin/Russia, at least with conventional arms, starts shooting, trying
to gobble up more of former soviet republics or somewhere else in the world one
nation starts shooting against another.
Soft sanction diplomacy in the late 30’s was the gateway to
the blitzkrieg that destroyed Poland and most of Europe and fired up the ovens
of the death camps, enabled the destruction of Pearl Harbour, the rape of
Nanking and the use of atomic weapons.
We stand on the cliff’s edge.
2] Universal/Personal sin:
Just the other day Pope Francis, speaking directly to the
Mafia, warned them: "This life that you live now
won't give you pleasure. It won't give you joy or happiness……Blood-stained
money, blood-stained power, you can't bring it with you to your next life.
Repent. There's still time to not end up in hell, which is what awaits you if
you continue on this path."
Actually those words apply to any nation,
clan, tribe, family, individual who puts self before all else.
Increasingly our nations are morally
bankrupt, our political leaders, on the national/local level, reveal a power-hungry
cowardice that caters to noisy self-interest groups and blithely agree to
legislative pernicious assaults on the unborn, marriage, family life, faith
life, both in the public square and privately, seeing it as justifiable to
allow government agencies to become ever more powerful and intrusive.
Leaders are supposed to lead but
increasingly our leaders follow, based on poll-taking, which is often of
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
teaches us the truth that: Sin is present in human history; any attempt to
ignore it or to give this dark reality other names would be futile. To try to understand
what sin is, one must first recognize the
profound relation of man to God, for only in this relationship is the evil
of sin unmasked in its true identity as humanity’s rejection of God and
opposition to Him, even as it continues to weigh heavy on human life and
Thus when we try and explain sin away, as
is so common today by reducing everything to physco-babble, chemical imbalance
excuses [granted sometimes mental or physical unchosen conditions are at play]
is to totally chose blindness to the reality of sin as a will choice and thus
ignore the fact:…that man has a wounded nature inclined to evil… [which]…gives
rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action and
When a nation such as Russia invades, intimidates,
captures other human beings this is sin of commission.
When other nations do nothing, or not
enough to protect and rescue our brothers and sisters, this is the sin of omission
akin to that committed by those who walked by the beaten man in the ditch. [Lk.10:29-37]
All sin, weather committed alone or with
others on the personal/universal level, is fundamentally to chose not to love
authentically God, other, self.
Thus Jesus, in detailing the Last Judgment,
makes the emphasis on concrete acts of love for other, which reveal authentic
love of God and self.
This is also how nations shall be judged.
These are the “I was” teachings, the “and
you” teachings, as found in Matthew 25: 31-46.
“I was hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked,
sick, in prison.”
Jesus in the peoples of North Korea hungers
for food and freedom from oppression, in the homeless of our cities for food
and shelter, acceptance as persons; Jesus in the peoples of so many countries
thirsts for drinkable clean water, water to irrigate the land, in abused women
and children thirsts for dignity and an end to the horror of abuse; Jesus in the
peoples of the refugee and migrant camps of the world experiences the pain and
rejection of being a stranger seeking welcome in a homeland, and in the lonely
of this world, in the discriminated against Jesus is the stranger seeking
acceptance as a real person; Jesus experiences the naked vulnerability and
horrors of human beings ensnared in human trafficking, living in places
controlled by drug lords, being a bullied child in school; Jesus from the concentration
camps of North Korea, to the isolation of Gitmo, to the reality of a prison
cell occupied by actual criminals is all merciful and, having Himself been a
prisoner, tortured and executed, denies solidarity with no one, irrespective of
the crime, such as the thieves crucified with Him, one of whom repented and received
fullness of mercy. [Lk.23: 39-43]
All sin begins as a personal choice NOT to
All goodness begins as a personal choice TO
National sin, social sin, group sin, is the
common cause of individual sinners to engage together in evil which spreads, poisons,
destroys with the speed of a computer virus and the lethality of Ebola.
National goodness, social goodness,
communal goodness is the common cause of actual human persons in solidarity of
love feeding, giving to drink, welcoming, clothing with dignity, healing,
visiting and faster than any computer virus, more definitively than can be
fully grasped, overcomes the darkness of indifference, hatred, fear, cowardice,
hesitation by overwhelming with Christ’s own love all evil and this is true
repentance, true turning away from the shadows of death into the life of the
Looking back over the years of recent history since the end
of the 19th century to the present day and the extremely dangerous
crisis between Russia and Ukraine, indeed Russia and the world community, I am
struck by how many of the world leaders, at the outset of and in the aftermath
of the First World War, were elderly.
Indeed many of the generals of the various armies were of
such an age they were unable until almost the end of the war to abandon the
military tactics of the 19th century and face the harsh reality of
Would younger leaders, generals have done much better?
WWII says not and the current crisis likewise.
It is among other things an urgent matter of praying for
right order between the generations, namely that the elderly share wisdom of
experience but do not dominate, the young learn from the elders’ wisdom and use
their own talents to make choices which will take us all deeper into global
solidarity as one universal family of persons striving for peace.
Now it may at first blush appear somewhat a leap from the
above to the challenge of being a grandparent, however the two are intimately
connected, for it is within the heart of each individual family, each
domestic-church, that we intercede for
the entire human family, for world peace.
As Moses lifted up both his arms that the Chosen People
might be victorious in battle, when we pray we must likewise lift up both arms:
prayer and fasting, especially fasting from having things ‘my way!’
Pope Francis often speaks about the treasure of the elderly,
the vital role of grandparents, what he sees as our having the strength to pass
on a noble inheritance, asking everyone to: “…pray for our grandfathers and
grandmothers….Let us ask for the grace to cherish, to listen to and venerate
our elderly, our grandparents.” [Nov.19.13]
The challenge in being a grandparent is to lead by loving,
prayerful example; to be wise, listen much, speak little as needed and when
speaking to do so with compassionate understanding and strive, by grace, not to
interfere for it is the parents who have the grace of state to parent the
Since I became a grandfather some ten years ago it has
been/is an ongoing struggle and only, thanks in large measure to the struggles
of one of my grandsons who is only seven years old, I am learning how what
happens to him, how he reacts for example when his very loving father challenges
the boy to be, more obedient, my emotional reaction – hence the extremely hard
effort to keep my mouth shut! – is connected to wounds from my own childhood.
The challenge is to be still, allow the pain to unfold,
listen to the Holy Spirit and with great love pray for my son and grandson.
My grandson really wants to go with his dad to see a special
children’s movie, but my grandson struggles mightily, very common for a boy his
age being so full of energy, to slow down, pay attention in the moment.
So often he appears to be, or actually is, disobedient: for
example when asked to do some little chore playing with the new kitten is more
Thus the boy has so far not gotten to see the movie with his
dad, so his dad the other day offered him another opportunity for the movie:
“If you can go the whole week without disobeying.”
The boy immediately erupted into sobbing saying: “That’s too
much! I can’t go a whole week!”
Immediately with great tenderness his dad encouraged him
saying how he believed the boy could do it.
His dad then helped the boy settle down and later I noticed
with great joy the two of them sitting outside, dad holding son with further
comfort and reassurance.
Of course interiorly when my grandson started to sob my
emotions spiked, my heart breaking and I wanted to say to my son something to
the effect of lowering the bar, make the challenge easier, to hold my grandson
and take away his pain.
Not by any strength of my will, only by grace did I sit
still and say nothing, knowing somehow at some point the Holy Spirit would
Just now, praying for my grandson that he make it through
the week and have the special day with his dad it struck me, or rather I was
My own father, a member of the greatest generation, a WWII
vet of the navy, only once took me to a movie, at about the same age my
grandson is now, but my father never spoke with me on the tram ride to the
theater, nor during the movie, nor did he get me a treat, nor speak with me on
the way back.
Basically I was his cover, his excuse so he could go see the
movie which was about a battle he was familiar with.
The only time he ever spoke with me about his war
experiences, he was on a corvette and later on a destroyer doing convoy duty,
was near the end of his life and it was pretty gruesome.
It was only then I realized this good man suffered ptsd and
everything from my childhood fell into place and we were reconciled a few years
before his death.
However some wounds are not yet completely healed, but that
‘movie’ wound is less raw thanks to the experience of seeing the struggle of my
grandson, indeed the pain of the wound is part of my intercession that he make
it through the week and gets to the movie with his dad.
Parents are challenged to raise children into mature persons
who become faith-filled, loving, independent adults.
Grandparents are challenged to be a loving and wise
In the family of nations older democracies are challenged to
help the younger ones grow and mature as nations which sustain and protect life
from conception to natural death, protect families and the fundamental rights
and dignity of each person, assuring safety, adequate food, shelter, dignity of
Just as our personal historical wounds from growing up
within a family must be brought to Jesus for healing – and the key to opening
the treasury of healing is to forgive those who have hurt us – so we must pray
that the historical wounds of peoples and nations be healed, thus as peoples
and nations we must forgive those who have wounded our ancestors, our nation in
Unless we engage in this healing forgiveness not only as
individuals, families, but as peoples and nations Russia will continue
expansionism like Hitler in the late 30’s; Syria will continue to slaughter her
own people; oppression, starvation, labour camps will dominate North Korea;
terrorists will be emboldened and eventually we will find ourselves confronted
by countless small wars which will morph into a world war where weapons of mass
destruction will be the norm.
Like many of my generation I remember the
packed churches, open twenty-four seven, during the Cuban missile crisis when
people turned to prayer as we all watched the leaders of Russia and the USA,
having stepped to the edge of the nuclear abyss, struggle to find a way to step
My generation also has deeply ingrained in
our beings the reality of the oceans of blood, the stench of hatred flowing
from the ovens and ruins of the Second World War.
We grew up very aware of the First World
War as well, for our homes had within them veterans from both wars; ships came
across the oceans after both wars with the traumatized relatives who had
somehow survived the carnage.
There have been more than 90 wars between
various countries since 1945, some lasting barely a week, some still ongoing,
and in the same time period about as many civil wars and revolutions. The UN by
the way only counts in either category those conflicts which cost at least
1,000 lives a year.
The internal war in Syria bypasses that
mark a hundred times over and yet no where have we seen the same intense
international reaction as with the current Russian invasion of the Ukraine, the
same Russians who sustain the blood thirsty Syrian regime.
When Italy invaded his country the then
Emperor Haile Selassie travelled to the League of Nations, a creature of the
Allies after WWI, to appeal for help.
If you can find the grainy newsreel footage
it is shameful how this man, pleading for the lives of his people, was treated.
Warning the members of the League they
would be held accountable by God and history the Emperor stressed ‘it is
international morality that is at stake.’
The failure of the League then of the
former WWI allies to act, the years of blather instead of concrete action allowed
Hitler to progress from moving into the Sudetenland all the way to Poland; by
the time the Allies did act decisively seventy years ago this coming June and
eventually crushed the Nazis, over fifty million human beings, on the
battlefields, in the cities and most horrifically in the ovens of the death
camps, had paid the price.
I AM advocating that, frankly, the nations
of the world man up and have the moral courage to tell Putin and every other
bully on the planet: NO MORE!, and find effective, hopefully non-military ways
of implementing the ‘no more.’
The anguish of our brothers and sisters in
Ukraine, Syria, and North Korea – take a map and look at the numerous countries
around the world where violence, oppression, death camps, hatreds dominate –
MUST be the anguish of every Christian.
Anguish without anger, without hatred,
without a desire for vengeance or to punish in a way which sows the seeds of resentment
and future conflicts; anguish which is the pain experienced by a loving heart
in absolute solidarity with other who is my brother, my sister; anguish which
is the stirring of love’s imaginative creativity to find ways of bridging the
gulf between opposing peoples; anguish which hears the cries of the oppressed
in Russia, understands the lack of freedom in a country yet to experience
democracy; anguish that in prayer 24/7 pleads with the Father of us all in the
Name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit to heal all religious, ethic,
social, cultural hatreds and greed; anguish which heeds the request of Our Lady
of Fatima that we pray the Rosary every day for peace.
Yes like many I remember the anguish of
I remember as well we all prayed.