A week ago today the world awoke to news that was not predicted by any polls or really thought about by anyone.
A week ago today I spent the day in tears. Not because of those shocking election results. But because those results brought into clear focus something that I feel I should have foreseen, that maybe, in some small way, I could have tried to help stop.
The threads of this Problem have been winding about my life for some time. But they came into clear focus last week and I think I’ve contemplated them enough to be able to put them into some sort of sense.
First… the threads.
- Over the years, I’ve broadened my reading to include many writers who write on all sorts of topics. I’ve gone from reading just the “bubble” of conservative Catholic things, to seeing that there’s a broad base of ideas out there and that not all of them are bad.
- I’ve seen the threads of mistrust built up over my life. Mistrust of the bishops is key here. In my youth it was mistrust of the local bishops and priests… if they weren’t “Orthodox” and checked certain boxes, they were suspect. Then, the mistrust of Pope Francis, the mistrust perpetuated and turned viral by organizations like Life Site News and Church Militant, the mistrust of anyone who didn’t put on a perfect, Catholic face.
- I’ve spent years educating myself on Catholic teaching. The foundational teachings, then reading more and more about things like Catholic Social Teaching and the Theology of the Body. Bringing it all together into a wonderful tapestry that includes all sorts of things, that rest foremost on the dignity of every person, that we are all created in the Image of God no matter what we do.
- Seeing cults of personality build up around specific Catholic celebrities. Priests who fell from great national popularity. Priests who just maintain local popularity among a smaller group of people. Media personalities that release their hordes of followers to perpetuate their talking points.
- A distinct lack of charity, particularly from those who judge those who are “in sin” and insist there will be no mercy shown to those people. A sort of “evangelization” that berates people with no attempt to listen or understand the other.
And I’ve seen all these threads, and they often have one theme in common. That America is a nation that is meant to be Catholic and that the only way to achieve that is through getting rid of abortion. A placing of the issue of abortion on an altar, where it is the only One Thing that matters. That it doesn’t matter what we do, so long as we are beating this drum and rallying our troops to defeat this evil.
And it all came together the day before the election, when Fr Frank Pavone of Priests for Life took the body of an infant who had been aborted and placed it on a literal altar. To someone just seeing a picture of it, it looks like a human sacrifice. But it was no simple offering of the victim up to God, with words spoken of faith, hope and love over this baby. It was no prayer for forgiveness. It was no prayer that we might change hearts, that others might know us by our love.
No. It was a political ad. The words said over this victim were words of praise to a man who shows no understanding of the dignity of human life, of the dignity of work and the right to just wages. Who shows no understanding of mercy to our enemies and their families. Who shows no sense that the “other” is not someone that we should kick out and build a wall to keep them away, but instead is someone to be welcomed, to be clothed and fed and given a chance at life. Who has denigrated women, who has shown no understanding of what marriage is or why it’s important. A man who, in most ways, stands in complete antithesis to the full teaching of the Catholic faith. A man who was now being idolized by a prominent Catholic priest, who used a child as a prop to illustrate the point that this was the only person who made the slightest attempt to sound “pro-life”.
And when I saw this… I knew what was really happening. 133 years ago a pope had a vision of the Lord and the Devil. The Devil asked the Lord for 100 years to try and destroy the church. 33 years after that, 100 years ago, 3 children were in the pastures of Portugal, waiting to be visited by Our Lady. She promised that unless we were to change, we would face great tribulations. And did we change? Did Catholics unite to pray for our world? No, we divided. Many of us fell victim to Satan’s first attacks on our world. Victim to communism, to socialism. Victim to the sexual revolution, which started with the opening of birth control clinics in the same year as the Fatima apparitions. Victim to secularization and humanism and an ego-centric society that told us to do whatever we wanted, so long as we didn’t hurt others.
And that left a remnant. Catholics who saw the dangers in the world. Who saw the attacks by Satan. And that meant for him to destroy the church, he had to attack this group. And what is the best way to attack them? To get them to think that the only way to defeat evil is by any means necessary. To get them to feel that there is no issue but one issue. To get them to ignore all evils, in favor of getting rid of one evil. To encourage them to do evil actions in order to “show people” the evil they are trying to eradicate. And finally, to get them to think that all the evil they are doing is truly good.
They fell for it, hook line and sinker. They took the bait and were dragged up and slaughtered by the Evil One. They became Evil. They heard the one bit of truth that Satan was telling them and ignored the evil he was putting into their hearts.
And this is the result. A church that is now divided into three groups. The secular Catholics who only retain ties to their childhood traditions out of sentimentality, who were never evangelized and taught the Truths of our faith. The anti-abortion at all costs Catholics, who often still love the church, but will drop it if it at all seems to say we should care about something other than abortion. And those in the middle, the “Both/And” Catholics, who love their faith, who love Jesus, who want to share that there is so much good news in the Church that it takes books and books to tell the whole Truth. This is the group where I want to remain, where I can be outraged and fight against all the evils, where I can rejoice in all the beautiful traditions. Where I can embrace all peoples, seeing everyone’s innate dignity and treating all with the respect they deserve by virtue of being human.
I’m not a conspiracy kind of girl. I’m not the kind that really puts much stock in visions or apparitions. They’ve never connected with me. But this is one of those rare moments, where I truly feel the demonic and where I truly believe that these things were foretold in private revelations. You can feel differently. You can think the root of this problem is elsewhere. But really, Evil and Satan are the root of all our problems. It goes back to the Garden, to when we wanted to be like God which is a GOOD thing! We should want to be like God! But the Devil took that little bit of truth and twisted it so that we would do evil in an effort to do good. It’s all really the same old story, with different details. Nothing stays the same, and nothing changes.