I wonder how cognizant people are about the true state of things at this time. My guess is that they are not much aware, or at least not all that much troubled by them. I’ve avoided apocalyptic warnings to you for the good reason that they would be false. Only God knows for sure when the travail of the final days will be upon us. This does not mean, however, that there cannot be a time great turmoil in the world–a time of disturbances which afflict the entire societal body in the political, moral, and religious areas of life–which is to say, in every aspect.The near collapse of order in beneficent government, national and worldwide, in societal structures, in education, the military, in law and judiciary, in education and arts, in economy and–hard to admit it–even in the Church, does not seem overmuch to worry many people, because they’ve been lulled into reverie by an enveloping, all-pervading sensuality. The palliative effect of pleasures which distract our minds and cloud our judgment tends to make us oblivious to the disorder all around us: the effect being much like an anaesthetic on a body suffering some pathological condition. Pain is a warning that something’s amiss that needs remedying. Covering over problems with blithe distractions from sensual comforts allows decay unattended to advance, to worsen.Men’s ambition and pride lead to resentment of authority; their inclination towards evil, and especially towards sexual indulgence, leads them to want to give way to outpourings of their lawless passions (anger, lust and disregard for law and discipline); and these in turn make men turn away from God and prepare them to become practical atheists, which is to say, agnostics. It is only at this last phase that we begin to see clearly that there’s more than human ambition and weakness behind the ensuing general disorder–that it is demonically inspired. In any case, whether we are willing to believe in the Enemy’s hand in this or not, we are all feeling the effects of the advancing chaos in the disharmony in our marriages and families, in our ineffective educational attempts in our schools, in the squeeze that holds our money and property, in the ever-wider encroachment of big government over more and more aspects of our lives, in the disturbances and discomfort we are feeling by being in a Godless public, in the uncertainty and fears we experience as ominous, impending calamity, in the division in the Church, etc.Much more needs to be said about these things that can’t be aired here. But my reasons for bringing them up are 1) to assure that all this is not right, is not normal, and is decidedly deadly for continuance in an ordered world; 2) to speculate about what the right response should be in the face of this distorted scene. Responses are basically of two kinds: a) offensive action which seeks to rectify the troubles by opposing the many seducing errors and the moral decay; b) prayer and sacrifice, both for restoration of order and for making reparation for damages already done. These two forms are often posed as being in tension with each other: the ‘direct confrontation approach’ or the more ‘indirect’ and (seemingly) ‘passive.’ In truth, I can’t say that there is an alternative: both are needed. We need front-line fighters and we need prayer-warriors (pardon that gooey expression). What we cannot do is to become idle and numb, indifferent and unconcerned, allowing evil to go unopposed, and thus to advance.If I am undecided about which of these to recommend to you the more, I would, as your pastor, say at least this much with utter confidence: you must stop your own slinking into the myriad forms of evil that are rotting souls. You simply cannot give way to your passions–which are the internal originators of all the disorder and chaos in society and in the Church. You, in simple terms, have got to oppose the sinful inclinations that induce you to commit your sins. Never mind the terrible things other people are doing, how bad the world is getting, how dizzying the turmoil in the Church. Be saintly, and do not budge from the way of righteousness. Be tough on yourselves and be holy people. The reform of the world begins with you, in your own soul. Then, and only then, should you proceed with your plan of righting the wrongs of others. This program is a version of what our Lord Himself said: remove the plank in your own eye before removing the splinter in the eyes of others.Don’t mistake my meaning. I am not suggesting that we should not oppose the tremendous evils that are upsetting the God-willed harmony and order of the world and the Church. We must oppose these. Nor am I saying that we should not be making the much-needed Eucharistic holy hours to appease divine justice and petition divine intervention. We, however, must not be hypocrites, outwardly valiant and righteous but inwardly unconverted. What is inexcusable is indolence and apathy and, of course, complicity in the great movement to overthrow the God-given order of truth, goodness, beauty, and holiness, a movement which is not fundamentally a thing but a destructive and malevolent person who rails against God and seeks to frustrate His plans for the salvation of the human race.Fr. PerroneP.S. This will be my last Descant for a while as I take my summertime lease for mental and physical refreshment. Fr. John, to whom I confidently entrust your pastoral care, will no doubt graciously supply in my absence.
Sunday, July 05, 2015
Father Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" (Assumption Grotto News, June 28, 2015):