Some Americans believe that murdering police officers is not only acceptable, but necessary. Many more think it is acceptable and even necessary to murder hundreds of thousands of children each year. An untold but significant number seem to think it is necessary to murder people they don’t like. This is the chaos that Satan wants to unleash on the world, the type of chaos that spawned and sustained the French Revolution. That infamous revolution eventually consumed even its own leaders in its bloody savagery as it tried to create a dechristianized and totally secular society. Many Americans are seeking a dechristianized, secular society today in spite of the horrid example of the French Revolution. Is this because they don’t know that it has been tried and left wanting? Or is it because they don’t care about the past or the future?
But vigilante violence and chaos has never been the American way. The American form of rebellion has always been that of sacrificial virtue. When Thomas Jefferson and John Adams drafted the Declaration of Independence, they showed the world that it was possible to do things differently than in so many rebellions and revolutions before and after the 1770’s. Our Founding Fathers understood that when we fight for freedom, true freedom, we cannot employ immoral or unjust means. The American Patriots were willing to sacrifice their lives for freedom from George III’s England, but they were not willing to sacrifice virtue. Our Founding Fathers believed in truth and justice, even when it came to their treatment of the enemy. John Adams (a lawyer and the 2nd President of the United States) vigorously and effectively defended the British soldiers who were charged with murder as a result of the Boston Massacre. Would Barack Obama (a lawyer and the 44th President of the U.S.) defend an employer who refused to purchase an insurance policy which covered abortions for his or her employees?
Today, we awoke to the news that 11 police officers were shot in an ambush in downtown Dallas, Texas. Five police officers have died. According to investigators, the shooter was upset about the highly publicized killing of black Americans by several police officers across the United States over the past few years even though I don’t believe any of these deaths occurred in Texas. During the standoff that followed the shootings, the Dallas murderer told police that he “wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.” The murderer referenced a dubious protest movement called, “Black Lives Matter”. The murderer was eventually killed by the police when he refused to surrender peacefully.
Today’s Gospel (July 8, 2016) is an excellent reading on which to meditate, especially with all of this on our hearts:
Jesus said to his Apostles:
“Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves;
so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.
But beware of men,
for they will hand you over to courts
and scourge you in their synagogues,
and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake
as a witness before them and the pagans.
When they hand you over,
do not worry about how you are to speak
or what you are to say.
You will be given at that moment what you are to say.
For it will not be you who speak
but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Brother will hand over brother to death,
and the father his child;
children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but whoever endures to the end will be saved.
When they persecute you in one town, flee to another.
Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel
before the Son of Man comes.” Mt 10:16-23
As our American society becomes more dechristianized and more secular, we see more and more chaos. And with each new sacrifice to the god of secularism, more and more Americans blame Christianity. When a homosexual Muslim murders 49 people in an Orlando nightclub that catered to the LGBT community, people blamed Christianity. Many continued to blame Christianity even after they learned that the shooter had pledged allegiance to ISIS just before opening fire and that he may have also been motivated by the rejection of some of the men he had tried to pick up in that club.
Nearly every mass murderer of the past 40 years is used as a weapon against Christianity. People like Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski and Eric Rudolf are all held out as Christians who killed people in order to further the goals of Christianity. The fact is, McVeigh, Kaczynski, Rudolf, Jared Leigh Loughner, James Holmes, Seung-Hui Cho and many others cited by secularists, are not Christian or had long since departed from any form of Christianity. In fact many were atheist or agnostic and all of them were mentally ill. Many of the most recent murderers have been Muslims who have pledged allegiance to some form of radical Islam prior to committing their acts of terrorism against Americans. These include the attacks in Orlando, San Bernardino, Chattanooga, Morganton, Moore, Boston and West Orange. Unfortunately, in each of these cases, it has often been claimed that Christianity, guns or both were actually the cause of the terrorism in spite of the fact that the shooters themselves have admitted that they committed the crime in the name of Islam.
It is essential to recognize that our country is on the brink of chaos. As Christians, we cannot simply sit back and hope for the best. Nor can we take up arms and begin shooting at those with whom we disagree.
Christianity does not teach “an eye for an eye”. In other words, Jesus taught against retribution in Matthew 5 and other passages in the Gospels. This is very unlike secularism, Islam and chaos, which either accept or depend on retribution as a necessary aspect to their ideology.
How is a Catholic man supposed to survive in the United States today? We have to get real, get focused and get right with God. Here are some ways we can prevail:
- Get to confession: We know not the day nor the hour, so we must be certain that our house is in order. Failure to turn to God could make our entire life nothing more than a long and painful preparation for eternal suffering. Don’t be that guy who plans on a last chance to get right with God just before your moment of death. You may never see it coming.
- Get to Mass: God gave us one sure way to encounter Jesus in the flesh – the Eucharist. Jesus is not a God who gives mere suggestions. When he tells us we must eat his flesh and drink his blood to have eternal life, we need to pay attention. You should be going to Mass every day and you should never miss even one Holy Day, which is every Sunday and a few weekdays throughout the year.
- Pray: Carve out some time for private prayer each day. You may someday find yourself without the sacraments, without a Bible, without spiritual reading material and without the freedom to behave in any way that could be considered prayerful. During the French Revolution, all signs, symbols and behaviors that were consistent with Christianity were outlawed under penalty of death. Communism employed the same rule in the 20th century. ISIS it brutally carrying this tradition on right before our eyes and tomorrow it may be a rule imposed by a secular government that has dechristianized North America. By developing a prayer life now, you are preparing yourself to continue an intimate relationship with God even in the most brutal and dire circumstances.
- Prioritize: It is time to stop idolizing the created and turn all of your focus to God (the Creator). Some of us have have fewer distractions than others, depending on where we live, our age and maybe even our line of work, but for too many men, we have an idol who calls us to worship about 12 times a year either around our television or at the main altar (the home field of your favorite football team). But even if the Cornhuskers, Chiefs or Dallas Cowboys are not that important to you, there are surely other distractions which create some sort of a barrier between you and God. Eliminate distractions, barriers and false gods from your life whether they are money, possessions, pornography, entertainment or any other worldly attachment that is not pointing you to God.
- Tend to your loved ones: Your spouse and family members (in that order) are the most important things in your life after God. Talk with your wife and your children, teach them, protect them and get them ready for the test. Even if they roll their eyes and think you are crazy, their faith and your vigilance is all they may have when chaos ensues. You are given this time to prepare them and you need to begin doing so now. Don’t alarm them, simply love them, nurture them and do all you can to strengthen their faith.
- Identify your allies: When the pressure builds, there will be many who are unable to withstand it. If you try to do it on your own, you are more likely to buckle under the pressure as well. Find other men of faith who are as determined as you are. First and foremost, these need to be men of faith and family. History has shown that there are a few things that are worth dying for. These are faith, family and friends. If you ally yourself with men who place anything above these three, you are setting yourself up for failure. People eventually recognize that it is ridiculous to suffer or die for money, fame, power or possessions. If your inner circle includes a Judas, the enemy will eventually discover the price on your head.
- Train (be shrewd as serpents): When the culture begins to close in, it will require spiritual, mental and physical strength and endurance. If you are like me, you have gotten soft in all three areas. 1-6 focus on the spiritual strengthening, but you cannot neglect your physical or mental health. As unpleasant as it is, you need to remain knowledgeable about what is going on around you both locally, nationally and internationally. Read the news, read history, keep your eyes and ears open. We must know what and where the enemy is and what the enemy is doing in order to defend ourselves. In doing this, do not fall into the easy trap of being lazy and accepting everything you read or hear as true. Do your own backup research to make sure you are getting the facts right. If you get facts wrong, you end up making terrible mistakes by overreacting, underreacting or reacting to the wrong thing. Exercise your body and your mind along with your spiritual exercises. In doing so, you are simply making yourself the most effective solder God can ask you to be.
- Detach (be simple as doves): This does not mean that you go and live in a cave. This means that you develop mastery over your desires and the attractions of the world. It is kind of like eliminating the distractions and casting out the idols that I wrote of in #4 above, but it is more than that. St. John of the Cross and many other saints have written of detachment and given us living examples of detachment. While it is okay to enjoy a cold beer or a good round of golf, it is not good to be attached to these things because they can then begin to control you. If this “other” is not God, you are attached to the created, not the Creator. Detachment is developing mastery over these things and seeing them for what they are, a gift from God which is offered to draw us closer to Him. It is essential that we use these gifts in the manner which they are intended, in reasonable quantity or frequency and with the goal of deepening our relationship with God. The Church has required this since Apostolic times in the form of small sacrifices each week such as fasting, abstaining and other voluntary penances and works of mercy.
- Set your face for Jerusalem: In Luke 9:51, it says that when the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. We set our face for difficult tasks. It may be before we have a heart to heart conversation with someone about a difficult topic or it may be before we undertake a difficult physical task. But we are not in the habit of setting our face for our own Calvary. Instead, we prefer to ignore it. When we end up with a cross on our back, we may set our face, but it is commonly the face of defeat. Christ set his face with determination and courage because he knew what he had to do and he knew how it was going to happen. When you enter into the prayer practice in #3 above, set your face with courage and determination because Jesus leads by example. When your cross comes (which it will if it hasn’t arrived already), you will set your face with courage and heroic virtue.
- Trust in God: If you truly throw yourself into #1-9 above, you are ready to be the man God created you to be, which is an obedient and steadfast disciple of Christ. But if you lack any amount of Trust in God, you make yourself vulnerable if you are tested. Here’s why: In the Catechism of the Catholic Church 675, we read,
“Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.”
That sounds pretty close to home, doesn’t it?
In CCC 678 we read that there will be a “final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.”
I’m not saying that we are entering into the time of Christ’s second coming, nor am I saying we are not. But what I am saying is that it is exceedingly wise to be prepared for this at all times. First, if this is the second coming, you and your family will be as ready as ready can be. If this is not the second coming, you are simply a devoted and unshakable disciple of Jesus Christ and you will be as ready for your particular judgment as you can be. That’s what we call a win-win situation. Either way, you are prepared to face evil. But if you lack trust in God, you will waver, you will stumble and you will fall. You may not be able to get back up.
You are a husband, father, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin and friend to a lot of souls on earth. You are not here to react with rage. You are not here to stick your head in the sand and hope all of this goes away. You are not here to worry about keeping your job, your home or your possessions. You are not here to fish, watch Nascar or play cards with the guys. You are here to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. When the forces of evil are attacking the Body of Christ, you are called to stand up and defend the Body of Christ with truth, virtue, courage and love.
If you are focused on being a disciple, when the trial comes, you do not have to worry about what you are to speak or how you are to say it, the Holy Spirit will speak through you and if you are called to martyrdom, God will shower you with the graces you need to complete that mission for Him. Trust in Him.