And So, Here We Are Again 

  
I wrote what follows in November 2012, just after the last elections. Remember how many of us were feeling then? It’s interesting to see how little has changed except the winning party. See what I mean…

“My Fellow Barbarians”

So the elections are over and a few of my friends are beginning to stockpile things like food and water, supplies of seeds and the makings of a small arsenal. They believe there’s a coming financial/social/political collapse which will radically change the way we’ll be living in America. You’ve probably seen that TV show about folks who are doing the same kind of “prepping” for everything from earth-changing solar flares, to super volcanoes to a deadly flu pandemic to hyperinflation. All kinds of mostly-rational people are squirreling away mountains of supplies which they hope will be enough to see them through whatever the coming apocalypse holds in store. I don’t know. Maybe they’re right. Maybe it’s the prudent thing to do—to prepare for the worst. But I just can’t do it. Call me lazy or naive but I simply refuse to embrace the need to learn how to make freeze-dried possum or operate a chemical toilet. If it all goes south, I’ll just tag along for the ride. Mostly, thinking about terrible things that might someday happen makes me even more thankful that my hope is not in the things of this world. Christians are called to be people of hope. And by that I don’t mean that we walk around with cartoon bluebirds singing above our heads like dull-witted Pollyannas. Christian hope has nothing to do with being optimistic. Optimism is a temperament. Christian hope is a theological virtue given to us in our baptism and strengthened through confirmation, confession and the Holy Eucharist. It is a gift from God to His children. Hope is the certainty that God loves us. We can be certain of His love because He’s told us He loves us and, most profoundly, by the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Don’t get me wrong. The Catholic Church in America is facing profound attacks on the practice of our faith by the current (and now, future) administration. Simply put, we are suing the government to leave us alone. Some of our cardinals or bishops or priests may end up in jail rather than comply with what amounts to us as an unconstitutional health-care mandate. So if anybody should have a kind of bunker mentality right, it should be Catholics. 

But we can’t give in to it. Since the time of the Apostles, the Church has faced persecution, repression, and all manner of martyrdoms. We can face any kind of disaster, disappointment or suffering if we hold fast to hope in Christ. Read about some of the great martyrs of the Church and their perseverance and JOY while enduring physical torture of the most extreme kinds, imprisonment or starvation. They prayed, they sang, they danced. They praised God. The saints kept their hearts fixed on Christ and they never lost hope. That’s what saw them through the world’s pains to the glory of heaven. And that’s what will see us through whatever economic (or other) disasters we might be facing. We were made for the joy of the Lord and our true happiness is only found in Him. People and man made institutions will always disappoint us. God never disappoints. 

The challenge facing Catholics now is to remain engaged with a culture that has, in many ways, won the battle. Issues like abortion, same-sex “marriage”, and religious freedom, the core of many social conservative agendas are claimed as “won” by our political administration. With the President’s ability to appoint federal judges and Supreme Court justices, we could be in for a long siege. And that’s how we need to think about it, too. The barbarians at the gate….are us! The city’s already fallen and it’s up to us to re-take it. Barbarians like us are in it for the long haul. We’re in it for eternity. And we’re in it to win it because our hope is in the Lord. But to claim our victory we have to cling to the Cross of Christ and remain faithful to the Church He founded (Matthew 16:18). We have to pray and to fast (Matthew 17:21) if we are committed to this great work of faith. We can’t just withdraw into a bunker and wait it out. We have to engage with the people in our community, our family and our parish and be encouraged by Christ to know and defend our faith and our beliefs. We can’t give in to despair or paranoia. We have to fight the good fight of the faith (I Timothy 6:12) and as Churchill said, “never, never, never give up!” The world hungers for the witness of Christ and for us to be the spiritual leaven of that world (Matthew 13:33). We have to boldly proclaim Christ crucified (I Corinthians 1:23-24) and do so with joy! Our lives must be a witness to the transformational love of Jesus. Like Joshua at Jericho, we must be led by God’s holy presence if we trust to reclaim our city, our culture. Joshua’s siege was led by the Ark of the Covenant. We are led by the presence of God in the Holy Eucharist and Adoration. He is our only Hope.  

“Lord, send out Your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth!” —Psalm 104

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