Well. I wish I could say that I picked an uplifting time to start this "chronicle of my own" (rather than simply "mooching" off of Paul's excellent blog... :) ), but that simply isn't so. Oh, I'm sure I'll branch off into comments on the usual current events, and such, in the days that follow... but for the moment, I have to at least try to say something about what's on my heart, in recent days.
It's a good thing that the hope of every Christian is in God alone... because we seem to be on the edge of one of the darkest eras of our nation. Fr. Benedict Groeschel, a well-respected and widely known Catholic priest/speaker, called this time "the beginning of the twilight" of our country. Argue that point, if you will, but it led me to think: am I ready?
The call of every Christian is to keep watch, for we know neither the day nor the hour that Our Lord will come again... and to wait faithfully for His return, no matter how long that takes, and no matter what tribulations we must suffer. But, while I'm generally a sober (and even skeptical) type regarding anything that smacks of the preternatural, I've watched the events of the past few weeks (re: the elections in the United States) with--well--what I can only call "grim sobriety".
I've faced death, before. I know that this life is not the end, and I know that God is in control, and I know that "to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints." (Romans 8:28) But what I find so very oppressive about this current time is not only the ongoing holocaust of the blood of millions of helpless children, ripped apart in the name of "compassion", "tolerance", "convenience", or even "coercion". It's not only the seemingly head-first plunge that our culture has taken into sexual immorality (e.g. contraception, fornication, same-sex intercourse, etc.). It's not only the corruption of the mass media, by which the darkest elements of our society seem to find an unswerving advocate.
It's the Christians who betray Christ.
Somehow, a Judas is harder to handle than a Caiaphas; at least, when you run into an avowed enemy who's marching under an enemy flag, you can respect their integrity, and you don't have to struggle with betrayal. Michael Card (one of my favourite Christian recording artists) once wrote, in one of his songs, "Only a friend can betray a friend; a stranger has nothing to gain. And only a friend comes close enough to ever cause so much pain." (See HERE to listen.) But when I meet a Christian who betrays the Gospel, it hurts me in ways that physical suffering and dying never could. It really doesn't help much to find out that such betrayals are often done "in all sincerity", or "out of honest conviction", or (my least favourite) "following their own conscience". It doesn't help much when I learn that such people are doing so because they're ignorant, uncatechized, misled, scandalized by other heretical "Catholics", or simply clueless.
If someone dropped your newborn infant daughter on the stone floor, would it take away all of your pain to know that it was done without direct malice?
Just so, should I be expected to "absorb" the abuse that bloodies the Body of My Lord, and walk away whistling a happy tune, just because the attackers don't know any better?
Some people (especially heterodox Catholics), when they hear me talk like this, react with a great deal of defensive vigour, accuse me of melodramatics, and worse. I can sympathize, actually; because I was of their number, not so very long ago, and I remember being offended at the direct words of those who challenged my "privatized Gospel". I remember thinking of those people as "cold, unfeeling, hateful Pharisees", and worse. So if I absorb some of that type of abuse in turn, now, I pray that God uses it to help atone for the damage that I did--to myself and others--in my ignorance, stubbornness, and (yes) PRIDE. To the people who now hurl such at me, all I can say is this: I pray for you, every day, that your eyes be opened, and your heart healed. I will not stop proclaiming the truth--to you, and to others; may God give me the strength. And as for my stridency?
Get used to it.
In Christ, now and forever,