You may wonder from time to time, as I do, where we may be in the line of human history. Are we in its last days? Or are we nearing a time of great tribulation like that which preceded the outbreak of the two great World Wars, when the forces of evil were gathering strength but awareness of them was slight and th strength to resist them wanting? I think about this (as I mused in a recent sermon) with reference to Germany just before its takeover by the Nazi party. There's a feeling of apprehension in the air that some overpowering evil is about to descend upon us -- the USA and the Catholic Church. There have been times of mounting tension in society and in the Church where things somehow worked themselves out without the worst happening. I'm trying to understand if ours is but a passing moment testing our endurance or the prelude to some great catastrophe.
Along comes my reading of the Divine Office -- the prayerbook every priest is obliged to say everyday -- where the following passage is given for this Wednesday past, a portion of Saint Paul's Second Epistle to Timothy. It reads like a prepared script characterizing people of our time in surprisingly accurate detail. "In the last days, dangerous times will come. Men will be lovers of self, covetous, haughty, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, criminal, heartless, faithless, slanderers, incontinent, merciless, unkind, treacherous, stubborn, puffed up with pride, loving pleasure more than God, having a semblance of piety." One would be hard put to amass a better compilation of adjectives to describe people at this time. In another letter, the Apostle writes, "There shall come a time when men will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their onw desire they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and will indeed turn away from hearing the truth, but will turn to fables." Translation: people hearing only what they want to hear.
I get tired of the endless regression of things, from bad to worse. No matter where I turn, in education, politics, jurisprudence, the Vatican, and just about anywhere else, good initiatives are shot down, those of good will are stymied or punished, and the wicked go from success to success. Priests doing the things they're supposed to do are being squeezed in on two fronts -- opposed by their parishioners from below and chastised by their superiors from above. "Catholic" politicians promote child killing and sodomy with impunity by the Church and are reelected to office. Abortions can't be stopped. Innocent children are being hopelessly trapped in addictions to electronic media, porn, and in gender uncertainty. Most people seem oblivious to the dissolution of civilized society and to the crisis in the Church. All bad news. The single exception to the barrage of distressing reports is the economy which is doing very well, I'm told. But might this not also be a veiled misfortune signifying that our love of money (Mammon) prevails over every other concern?
I know this is a confused mixture of secular and ecclesiastical woes. And that's the point. They're coming together as in a strange coalition (dare I say, collusion?) such that one wonders whether some nefarious Mastermind is so arranging events in the world and in the Church to conspire in a huge eruption of wickedness incapable of abatement. In that case, "last days" would not be a far-fetched estimation of our present moment. In any case, the times are out of joint. My recourse to this unrelenting assault of evil is to implore God's intervention through more focused and frequent prayers of reparation.
Maybe this alarming message, whatever its intrinsic value, is a good inroad to Septuagesima, the pre-Lenten season which opens today for Latin Mass goers but which can be useful to everyone as the season of penance approaches. Speaking for myself, I'm going to give thought to how my Lenten practices might manage to sway our Lord to bring relief from the evils plaguing us. You also should get mentally ready for Lent now so as to greet its arrival eagerly, like true soldiers ready to do battle for the cause of Christ. Like it or not, you may find yourselves embroiled in the conflict.
P.S. Before I take leave of you, don't forget Dr. Blosser's philosophy class today (Sunday) in the lounge after the noon Mass. Feed your mind!
Sunday, February 24, 2019
Fr. Perrone: a foreboding of the world falling into darkness under some impending, overpowering evil
Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" (Assumption Grotto News, February 17, 2019)