“For to this end Christ died, and lived again, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.” Romans 14. 8, 9.
~ FOR MODERN MEN & WOMEN, losing any sense of Death, Judgment, Heaven Or Hell leads inevitably & directly to man acting as a self-judging mini-god. That leads to warfare, supremacism, mercilessness, and getting away with things. Thence madness, violence, lies, and 2018.
As I’ve been reading about our Western cultural elites, I’m shocked/ not shocked by what the rich & powerful do behind the scenes. Many ordinary people likewise.
But what if there IS a right & wrong? Good & evil? What if we are accountable? Much of ordinary human life is all about distracting us, crushing silence and unsettling thoughts and questions.
What if all desires are known, and no secrets truly hidden? What if our old unrepented forgotten hidden sins have not just dissolved with time? What if the evil whispers shall be shouted from the rooftops in That Day?
What if God is as the Church has taught, and we are a few missed heartbeats & breaths from standing naked & defenceless before His perfect infinite goodness.. and love?
Pray this day for those who have gone before us through the veil, especially our friends & enemies, family & benefactors, and all those who died with nobody to pray for them and with them.
O FATHER of all, we pray to thee for those whom we love but see no longer. Grant them thy peace; and in thy loving wisdom and almighty power, work in them the good purpose of thy perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
REST eternal grant unto him, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him. Amen.
A softer and stupider version of this revolution is pushed in our schools, and many parts of our overgrown government, not to mention in the leadership of many churches and sects. The revolution seems like a good idea, until (1) you actually see what it entails, and (2) you recall that it’s the same bent and failing human nature out of which perfection and utopia will come, (3) “They”, the horrible ones with power, are the same as most of us, if we had their power & opportunities. Salvation comes not via good intentions.
What then? Shall we be enamoured of the old evils, or favour new ones?
~ MY BELOVED Canada has been– longer than the Trudeaus, but sped up by them both– in a long slow fall away from our founding principles, towards every excess, bad idea, and anti-Christian notion on the books.
This sermon is a lovely thunderbolt of warning to awaken, fight, and work with God to stand on guard, keep our land glorious and free. Or fall.
Canada Day only falls on Sunday once every seven years. That’s an opportunity for an upbeat homily about our beautiful country and our many blessings. But not this year—because we need to take a look at some things that are happening in Canada and what they mean for Christians.
I know you’d rather hear a homily celebrating Canada than criticizing it; so would I. But a friend sent me a quotation this week attributed to Archbishop Fulton Sheen, who was not only America’s best preacher but a 20th century prophet. When I read it, I knew I couldn’t deliver a feel-good sermon today.
Long quotations don’t make good homilies, but I’m asking you to listen carefully to these prophetic words:
Humanity in a crisis is generally insensitive to the gravity of the times in which it lives.
Men do not want to believe their own times are wicked, partly because they have no standard outside of themselves by which to measure their times. If there is no fixed concept of justice, how shall men know it is violated?
Only those who live by faith really know what is happening in the world; the great masses without faith are unconscious of the destructive processes going on because they have lost the vision of the heights from which they have fallen.
I don’t think one Canadian in ten thinks we have a problem in this country. And I do think that most of those who recognize the destructive processes at work are people of faith.
But even men and women of faith often fail to understand the heights from which Canadian society has tumbled, because our fall from Christian morality has happened in slow motion—not from one cause but from many.
We could analyze numerous social shifts that are opposed to Gospel values—for that matter, opposed to the values shared by most major religions—but I want to point out three of the most recent.
The first, of course, is euthanasia. Disguised by the Orwellian name “Medical Assistance in Dying,” the legalization of assisted suicide threatens the vulnerable, draws health care workers in to a moral snare, and creates an entirely false idea of compassion. It should not be necessary to remind people at Sunday Mass that assisted suicide can never be the right choice, but our first reading puts it simply: “God does not delight in the death of the living.”
Life is a good in and of itself— God “created all things so that they might exist.” All life is precious; its value is not measured by the so-called “quality of life” or anything of that sort.
We were created for eternity, and it is in eternity that the quality of life will more than compensate for the struggles some people encounter at the end of their life on earth.
Before turning to the second social shift—I should really call these legal shifts—I want to give you another reason for this somber homily on what should be a joyful day. The reason is simply this: law-abiding people, people like us, tend to think that if something’s legal is must be right. Law not only reflects social values, it creates them.
Archbishop Carney once told me that chicken wasn’t subject to meat rationing during the Second World War. As a result, Catholics—who were not allowed to eat meat on Friday—started to eat chicken, since if the government said it wasn’t meat, it must be true.
The second shift is the redefinition of tolerance. Canadians pride themselves on tolerance. American comedians on the late-night shows make jokes about how nice we are. But my dictionary says that to tolerate means “to allow the existence or occurrence of something, without interference.”
The courts have redefined tolerance in numerous decisions interfering with the freedom of people of faith. The most recent may be the most serious: the Supreme Court of Canada has effectively allowed the legal profession to be closed to graduates of a law school where students must commit to live according to the moral norms that were once universally held by all Christians. In the words of the two dissenting judges, the Court has turned the protective shield of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms into a sword.
And there’s not much doubt which group of Canadians that sword will slash.
The third source of sadness on this Canada Day may surprise you, since it’s hardly as grave as the euthanasia or Trinity Western decisions. But as I told you, I’m focusing on the most recent social shifts, and this one’s also current—the court-ordered legalization of marijuana, now enshrined in law.
Just last week, the Canadian bishops issued a statement reminding Catholics of the harm that will flow from increased marijuana use. They cite the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Psychiatric Association, and the Canadian Paediatric Society as pointing out how “the use of cannabis is linked to addictions, depression, anxiety, psychosis, damage to brain development, and lung problems such as asthma and emphysema.”
Although I didn’t use marijuana, I grew up hearing that it was not addictive. That was a lie or at least a huge mistake in terms of what we know now. The bishops rely on modern science and the modern understanding of addictions when they say marijuana “is an addictive substance that will have disastrous effects” for many people.
There was a time when a Canadian who didn’t break the law would be following God’s law in most matters. Sadly, tragically, that time has passed. Only the Creator’s law can guide us now to the good life, and to the righteousness that leads to life eternal.
It is truer than ever that
“Only those who live by faith really know what is happening in the world; the great masses without faith are unconscious of the destructive processes going on because they have lost the vision of the heights from which they have fallen.”
So on this Canada Day, let’s not only pray for the nation, but lift up our eyes to the lofty vision of creation and the human person that is our heritage as Canadians and Christians.
— Do you or someone you know & care for suffer from ‘The Black Dog’?
— Does that addict or drunk or sad co-worker suffer from depression? Do you?
— Do you “helpfully” offer endless free advice and ‘fixes’ because you find dealing with depression really awkward?
~ FOR MANY PEOPLE, depression is a day, a week, a season. It is left behind as an sour note in an otherwise happy life.
In our happy “we can fix everything” universe, TV and movie stories resolve every problem via heroism and happenstance and all is well again. E xcept.. people can break, and sometimes only partly tape and glue and tie themselves half-together again, enough to limp along a while longer.
What Kind Of Beast IS This?
This Black Dog is patient, vicious, and quiet: it has hunted & haunted my parents, and grandparents, and down the genetic pathways for generations. For others, life & crises and trouble starts it up fresh for them.
Yet for others– yes, of all ages– it is interwoven into the very stuff of life, perhaps as far back as memory reaches, a misty shadowed valley that never seems to come to an end, with light only breaking through now and again. The Valley of the Shadow; this vale of tears; the bleak lands where affliction dwells.
Yet even there, Christ the Lord walks and talks with his own sheep. Sometimes, he will shift us up onto his shoulders awhile. Faith can make an infinite difference in the experience & severity of depression. I’m there: so’s He.
All better? Nope.
There are no magic happy-cures, nor skipping through the sparkly flowers on a unicorn– but a costly cross-bearing love which both lightens your burden, and enlightens the path and things around you. Suicide– the permanent solution to temporary problems– may lurk like a vulture on the crag, but need not live on your shoulders.
The proper meds & counselling and living life the best you can any given day will help, too. The grinding miserable trudge can thus become a pilgrimage: but to where?
The shadowed vale of tears is not infinite. God is.
Just A Little Farther
There is a fair City and golden castle farther on ahead, with towers and steeples and fair pennons flying.. you know not exactly how far.. but in it is light, and peace, and no more pain or black dogs, suffering or tears, and all the former things are passed away. There are battles to fight and people to help along this path– and many needing help– on our way.
And perhaps in that City, the black dog– which can teach us so much about perseverance, tribulation, compassion and understanding– will be revealed as having golden fur, for the troubles that lead us closer to God are blessed troubles. St. Paul besought the Lord to remove his sufferings, and instead, God said “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Without such hope and faith and love– and the mercy of God & others– I would be long-dead. Will you walk beside me and the others like me, or pass us by on the other side? ~
I’m an original Star Wars kid. Saw the first one 14 times that Summer of ‘77. Spent a couple thou on merch over the years, helping make the Dark Lord George rich. Those first three movies were big pivotal events. Cultural moments. Good versus evil, heroes vs. villains, big over-simplified sloppy-science nerdy space-opera.
Then, George got mad about the success of Titanic, and James Cameron. Enter the prequels. Meh, take the kids, maybe there’s something.. oh. What’s that smell? Little Rebel filmmaker George had morphed into Darth Jabba, bully billionaire toy-seller with a side-order of movie-making.
I Gotta Bad Feeling About This
The latest branded product? Pretty much that South Park episode with Lucas & Spielberg raping Indiana Jones, and the audiences of that dreadful UFO+Indy movie. Except now, it’s Jar Jar Abrams, Kennedy, Mickey Mouse, and Johnson taking their turns violating Luke Skywalker, and the nerdly audiences of these three beautifully filmed– but contemptuous– violations of the SW universe & fandom.
There’s a lot of puzzled, offended, angry, and turned-off fans out there right now. And it hurt 2017 ticket-sales, toy & collectible sales, DVD & BluRay and all the knock-on money expected from big tentpole movies like this.
This feels like part revenge for #GamerGate; and the industry flipping the bird at the public for slumping ticket-sales for recent Hollywood rubbish; and the spoil-it-all ill-will of progressives towards anything they didn’t make, and of which they disapprove. Take something good, kill it & skin it, and wear the carcass while demanding respect for the new thing as if it’s still the old thing. Then, mock the fans, and drink their tears. Ha ha ha.
Clearly the next movies must be about hunting down each & every surviving character.. Chewie, R2D2, C-3PO, Nien Nunb, and Lando Calrissian in the retirement home for space-rascals, and killing them. Then, dancing on the grave of old Star Wars.
Deeper Stuff Is Important, Too
The nihilist meta-narrative that there is no good or evil, nothing worth living & dying for, no unifying spiritual force above & beyond appearances— so we can just all live in John Lennon’s craptastic revolutionary song ‘Imagine’? What a horrible dead life that would be, of competing chaotic forces wrecking everything & each other in a race to mutual bored destruction. This new Star Wars is a paean of praise to that “Eff It ALL” mentality.
The original movies were exciting & inspiring BECAUSE each person & their decisions mattered, made a difference. The protagonists were willing to live and die to help others, to hope and love and act in the face of apparently insurmountable tyranny. Leaving aside fanboyism and online insta-opinionated word-wars, it’s those deeply human elements that attracted us original kids in 1977.. a new take on movies, heroes & baddies, and interesting stories, remade with amazing effects and things we hadn’t seen before.
Of course they weren’t perfect. Of course they don’t make for a good religion or life. Of course you want to punch some fans in the nose and tell them to get a life and a religion.. but using a movie to do that is a pretty arrogant and dumb way to do it– and it’s bad business, no matter how many fart-sniffing film critics you make smirk with such work.
Nope. This original Star Wars fan is done. Not one more penny. Down with the Disney dystopia, and this disastrous train-wreck of a film franchise. ~
“The Upside Down is an alternate dimension existing in parallel to the human world. It contains the same locations and infrastructure as the human world, but it is much darker, colder and obscured by an omnipresent fog…. [a] dimension that is a dark reflection, or echo, of our world. It is a place of decay and death, a plane out of phase, a place of monsters. It is right next to you and you do not even see it.” … “Nope. No parallels under here.” (Hilary White)
~ BINKS IS just about to finish ‘Stranger Things‘ on Netflix, Season 1. Must say, I love it.. and it’s hard not to binge-watch it.
No major spoilers ensue below. Promise.
Like ‘The Matrix‘, the hit-show Stranger Things employs that familiar & human sense of displacement, weirdness, that there is an Unseen all around us which sometimes breaks in upon us in our ‘ordinary’ lives. That there is more going on than meets the eye.
In the popular Netflix series, which overflows with references to 80’s pop-culture, there is literally an evil copy parallel dimension called ‘The Upside Down‘, where people can be trapped, and eaten by a monster. The dimensional doorways can appear anywhere and everywhere: the wall of a house, a tree trunk, the basement of a top-secret government lab.
What both ‘The Matrix‘ and ‘Stranger Things‘ lack to make them universal is a spiritual universe above and inter-penetrating the visible ‘ordinary’ universe.. and a clear sense of God & His guiding providence. Sadly, religion plays almost no part in the show, or the lives of the characters.
What ‘Meant’ Means
By comparison, the writer J.R.R. Tolkien repeatedly mentions providence without explicating that it is of the Valar (archangels) and Eru (God). The wizard Gandalf’s own long mission in Middle Earth was a sending from the Blessed Land to fight evil, help the free peoples via suffering and pity, and– ultimately– to defeat Sauron, the dark successor to Morgoth (a fallen Valar, the Satan-figure).
In that Lord Of The Rings scene– which Peter Jackson moves from Frodo’s kitchen to the Mines Of Moria– we read:
Frodo: “I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”
Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times; but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.
There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.”
That ‘meant’ bears a world of significance. Consider.
‘Meant’ is God’s providence, in the world, in events, ‘coincidences’, and via people. The Bible proclaims: “All things work together for good to them that love God.” [Rom. 8:28] Note: NOT ‘all things will be pleasant, easy, and straightforward’.
Remember: Christians serve a Crucified and Risen King, who still bears His (now glorious) scars. No easy path there: take up your cross. Follow, die.
Living Our Double Sight
And there’s another sense of “the unseen dimension”, our own actual “Upside Down”, which tempers our anger and enlightens our struggles. As Saint Paul teaches the Christians of Ephesus, and us:
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Eph. 6:12]
Any battle with sin, darkness, heresy– in the church and the world, and in our own hearts, is a combination of many forces, many invisible, or acting through us or other people in a greater & darker pattern than the simply human (as bad as we can be).
Exorcists are still busy in 2018. Possessed people still exist– some in politics, and in the Church itself. Even some clergy may be thus.
The Disorientation Is Real
In the current pontificate of Francis, there is unprecedented darkness, division, dishonesty, confusion and discouragement afoot. Papal hyper-loyalists rally ’round the revolutionary throne, throwing accusations at critics and radical (deep-rooted) Catholics who demand the whole witness of the Church to be heard, respected, lived, taught.
Sometimes, it feels as if an UnChurch from some evil parallel dimension like ‘The Upside Down‘ has invaded our reality, and is seeking to proclaim itself as the real, true, and only thing to serve. There is a spiritual war afoot: each of us can play a double part, on earth as in heaven, for good or bad. The darkness is not simply the opposition themselves, nor we only the bright good ones– for humility and reality’s sake, we admit there are brighter and darker forces in conflict within what we see, and in each soul.
Holy loyalty and faithfulness and restraint are good: but we do not honour the Church or her current leadership via our blind obedience, nor forgetting Whom She really belongs to, and Whose Voice she is supposed to obey. His will is not simply to be identified with the novel dictates of people who seem bound to another message, an unKingdom, a utopia of exalted man making himself into a God, his desires and feelings the measure of all truth and goodness. OUR kingdom come, OUR will be done: and yet, even in this, a greater darkness can be felt, seeping through, pushing, ruining, distorting the Church, but also the fever dreams of utopia, too.
Some Christian Basics
That evil unholy being is not some exact counterpart to God, but a created and fallen Enemy, and likewise all the fallen angels and powers under his control. Alone, we cannot defeat such darkness, for we are but mortal and finite and compromised with darkness ourselves. From such, Christ came to deliver us.
Ancient Paganism sought to placate the dark powers; to deflect the ill will of spirits, gods, sprites, and malicious beings of every sort. Animal and human sacrifice was the trading of precious life for benefits, or being left alone.
The Incarnation changed all that. Jesus is become the Lord of the living and the dead. The suffering King Jesus lays bare the plans and pride and shining schemes of Lucifer; He bore in himself our sin, and has already won the victory over sin, and death, and Hell.. yet the long wrapping up of the battle will seem almost like defeat, as the faithful must abide darkness in the world, the Church, the human heart, and in malicious spiritual forces.
But, but– What To DO?
Read the headlines; pray; comfort one another; love the sacraments; repent. Read the Bible & the Church Fathers, and the saints. Read solid blogs and books. Same as it ever was, and there’s no greener grass elsewhere. Cheer up! It will very likely get much worse.
Stay faithful, for God is faithful, and will not abandon us, or leave us weak and comfortless and enslaved to the machinations of the Enemy and his minions, nor to our own sins, negligences, and ignorances. These bizarre times WILL be sorted by God, and by his judgment & mercy, and by better Church leaders and theologians in decades and centuries to come. +
“Lo, I am with you always,
even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
[St. Matthew 28:20]
~ HANS KÜNG used to be a very big deal. I was wondering the other day if he was still alive. He is.
Younger Hans was the say-anything unorthodox enfant terrible of the mid-20th century Catholic Church revolution. He and his ilk were going to remake everything in sight: Church, society, culture, thought, truth itself. Utopia now: just one more change!
Now, the young radical celebrity is almost 90. I got his autograph once, in the mid-’80s. “Hans Kung, Not Infallible” it read. Daring.
Just Phone It In, Hans
His speech that day was a disappointing rehash of Thomas Kuhn’s “Paradigm Shift” theories.. from a book published in 1962, almost 25 years before he spoke to us at Acadia. Count me underwhelmed.
He brought nothing recent, relevant, nothing about Catholicism or post-1960s developments in theology, philosophy… just rehash. Regurge. Leftovers. Could’ve just sent along a polite note saying “Read this book. I like it.”
Yet he was a big deal, back in the day, truly one of the 20th century modernist tsunami-riders, wreaking havoc on the Catholic Church as she was torn from her true self and made a puppet for the passing Zeitgeist and radical politics. In 2018, we are still floating amidst the wreckage, corpses, dirt, pollution and chaos of that time.
A Band Of Busy Clevers
There was a whole cadre of such clever modernizers as Küng, who had schemed amongst themselves and with the modernist Pope John XXIII and his protege Montini (later Pope Paul VI) to subvert the original plans for the ecumenical council which became known as Vatican II. You can even read some of what was supposed to be discussed in the Council that was never allowed to take place, now that the revolution was rolling.
That crucial moment was all about power: seizing it, keeping it, imposing it, and remaking the Church in their image. The book-series and TV-show Game Of Thrones looks mild by comparison.
The break was with the past, personified by a ‘Medieval’ Pius XII: as he aged, he was minimized, mocked, dismissed, even shown in newspaper photos on his death-bed, and displayed at the funeral after a (deliberately?) bungled embalming. Pius was then all but erased & forgotten in the predestined scheme to elect the stealth-modernist, progressive socialist, & likely freemason Roncalli (John XXIII) to the papal throne.
They Didn’t Start The Arson
From the 1750s onwards, a spirit of revolution, change, utopianism, and anti-Christianity arose in Europe. Promoted by the Masonic Lodges, “new-thinking” intellectuals in France and England and elsewhere, that idea of suddenly remaking everything broke out in France in that blood-soaked Revolution; less catastrophically in English legal and political reforms in the early 1800s, yet again in the Communist-inspired 1840s and 1850s, and on into the 20th century.
“Bad things happen; we’re the ones who can & will fix it! We will do things to others for their own good, and throw down the bad people, and make a better future for mankind! Away with priests and superstition and kings and old ways!” Hence Robespierre, Marx, and all the others. Revolution now, then utopia!
Striking The Roots, Replacing The Tree
The Vatican II Council was the mature fruit of that revolutionary spirit, and– within the Church– of over 80 years and more of bubbling ferment and subversion, promotions and mutual protection, denial and deceit, of the restless gnostic Catholic progressive modernists– the superior special ones who know the special things– planning to overthrow both the substance and appearance of the great enemy of Europe’s turbulent revolutionary spirit– the Catholic Church.
Once, perhaps, Hans Küng thought a glorious future lay just ahead, a churchly utopia of spirit and world cooperating to make a bright New Age for humanity. Surely this was the true motion of the Holy Spirit!
Sadly, such revolutionized ‘Christian’ leaders forgot the basic truth: don’t immanentize the eschaton. That is, don’t try and make heaven on earth in man’s image, for it will be hell. Such Marxism is a shallow shadow-faith leading to lies, gulags, and bleak fields of broken bones.
A Sad Shallow Failed Utopia
Sadly, and in retrospect, the brief pause in the revolution represented by Benedict XVI now leaves us in 2018 with the spectacle of two popes, one bullied out of office by nefarious means and whispered threats, and the other bent on remaking everything in his own image, and according to a singular and imposed modernist interpretation of both Vatican II, and his own ideas. Oh yeah– and Pope Benedict XVI was pushed. He did not jump.
The glorious revolution in the Church has– by its own internal logic– collapsed into mere power, a cult of personality, a marginalizing and dividing force, not a unifying and building principle, in which the “winners” endlessly repeat themselves, cheating the Church into fresh compromises and radical lies, collecting power and fame and money and more control. Doing things To people, and not For them, as Christ’s own precious flock, for whom he died. Even, helping souls onward to Hell, and not Heaven.
Not a very inspiring utopia. Not exactly a very healthy or happy Church. The more they ‘succeed’, the more they fail– failing God, and his people, and the true Kingdom.
Turn Or Burn, Buddy
I do hope Hans repents and recants before he dies, though it will take long years before ever the horrid festering wounds and terrible damage he and his ilk did to the Church will be healed or repaired. Surely 1789 to 2018 is enough time to observe that revolutions go rogue: once things start falling apart, there’s no easy way to say “Whoa! That’s enough, and no further!” Surely the arrogance and pride of the long line of revolters is from Lucifer The Lying Proud Murderer, and not of Him Who came to serve, and not be served?
The way forward is not more revolution, but rather remembrance, rebuilding, rebuke, repentance, re-commitment, resistance, contemplative and prayerful obedience to Christ The King, and not to the spirit of the world, or the dark gods of worldly power, control, and proud sin.