I spent the days following last Tuesday doing a lot of thinking and working to overcome the depression that set in when I realized that Obama would be President for the next four years, barring impeachment or some other circumstance. But while the effort to overcome disappointment came upon me on Election Day Night, the thinking - specifically about my identity as a Roman Catholic - has been ongoing for awhile.
I have been trying to find the right words to convey what has been welling in my heart and in my mind. I always considered myself to be a devout, if irreverent, Catholic but the devotion is not enough. I kept feeling I needed to armor myself, somehow - with prayer, with His word, with the Church's teaching. And why?
The other day, I found an article written by Fr. John Hollowell that finally gave me the words I was looking for:
Practically from my ordination day, I've felt (and been shown) that the priesthood God is raising up in me and my fellow priests of my generation is a priesthood of warriors who will fight and die for the faith.
I'm a bigger fan of authentic peace, but I'd rather have a battle than surface level passive-aggressive "peace" that simply masks evil.
The Catholic Church in the United States is a cage that needs rattling, and the coming battle will provide just such a shake-up. The days of bishops and cardinals yucking it up with anti-Catholic politicians will soon be at an end. The days of bishops and cardinals wagging fingers at anti-Catholic "catholic" politicians and telling them not to cross this line again...and then redrawing the line further back...those days will soon be at an end.
And I guess what I'm saying is that there is a lazy part of me that prefers comfort and wishes it never had to come to blows like this surely will...but there is another part of me that realizes God is doing something in the hearts of faithful priests and Catholics and I think we're on the edge of something that will be unlike anything we've seen in our lifetimes.
"Do not think that I have come to bring peace. I've come not to bring peace but rather the sword." - Jesus Christ. He brings the sword because the sword wakes people up, and it is better to be awakened at the last moment so that one can still repent than it is for a person to gain the whole world but lose his soul.
I feel a time of reckoning is coming. Maybe not in my lifetime, and anyone could say it was eventually going to arrive - after all, we look for His Second Coming - but we are also called to look at the signs of the times . . . and frankly, I do not like what I see.
Nor does His Holiness. At the recent synod of bishops that took place in October in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI said a very interesting thing: Being tepid is the greatest danger for Christians. We pray that faith becomes like a fire in us and that it will set alight others.
Where has that tepidness gotten us? As someone who grew up as the "first fruits" of Vatican II (I was born in 1961), despite having the benefit of a Catholic education through high school, I can say, we were poorly catechized. Oh, we were taught well - my high school, Cardinal Spellman in the Bronx, NY, still remains a top notch school. But catechism was, for the most part, Catholicism "light." As an example, no one really sat down with us in high school and said, "Don't use birth control." At least, I do not remember that. And if someone did, no one suggested we seek the reason why by reading - and discussing - Humane Vitae. I recently read that encyclical of Pope Paul VI and found it incredibly relevant and prophetic for this time now. Yet, how many have read it since it was written in 1968?
Bu people are reading it now - and the doctors of the Church - and writers like Dr. Scott Hahn - and the Office of the Hours - and the Catechism. People are hungry for the Truth, straight and not watered down. And I have to say, our priesthood and our Catholic schools have been remiss over the last few decades in delivering it. Worse, they have been scared, frightened to "offend." How many souls did they damage for fear of that?
But I think that is changing, and yes, as Fr. John said, we are on the edge of something. If a time of persecution is at hand . . . rejoice. The Church can only come out stronger for it. Have faith for the Lord has said, Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. While we are here on Earth, we are the Church Militant, the militia of Christ, to wage war against sin, against the Devil, and "the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12).
Does that sound too "aggressive?" Does that sound like "hate?" Does that scare you? Good. It is time to get shaken, it is time to wake up. The Catholic Church in America has been complacent too long. I read a quote from the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who said of his Anglican Church, "The Church will certainly get things wrong." Indeed, as it was instituted by a man intent on procuring a male heir. The Anglican Church has formed and reformed itself to fit the times . . . and lose adherents each year. It is no longer a moral authority. But the Catholic Church is - it was instituted by Christ Jesus and is thus infallible, and like it or not, it remains the world's moral steward, if you will. At least in America, its complacency is why there are states allowing same-sex marriage, it is why our government uses our tax dollars to fund abortions, it is why pornography is creeping off the covered magazines in racks and into music and prime-time television.
People are afraid we are going to "impose" our morals on them even as government, media, and academia impose their morals on our young. No more. We are fighting back.
I am warning you - I have a mustard seed and I am not afraid to use it.