Do you ever get the impression that something big is happening? So many life-changing things are occurring at the same time. Is it not possible that it could be so big that we may not notice it? Like some sleeping giant awakening under our nation, lifting it up in one total, slow movement; keeping everything in place so we have the illusion of stillness?
The Pandemic, for example, is changing all our ways of being. The stock market is moving into the stratosphere while many in our nation go hungry. Climate Change is creating even more bizarre weather patterns: hurricanes galore, wildfires, etc. The safest nation on Earth is very unsafe for pre-born human beings (over 60 million abortions in our nation alone). A polarized political minefield leads to a dreadful attack on our nation’s capital. And these are only a few of the signs that something is coming. Will it be bad or good?
Clearly, we are very vulnerable and much less safe than we think we are. So, what are faithful believers to think? What does wisdom teach us?
In the midst of this uncertainty, I believe we are being called to a more deeply rooted Faith. The externals of the Church as we know are fading away: Costs of running our parishes are getting so high that many wonder how we can sustain things. But these are only the externals. We have faced much worse than this as a Church.
Our Faith is strong and it will sustain us as it has over the 20 centuries of the Church’s life. There will be many who leave the fold, but those who stay will find new ways to be the Church (remember, the Church with a capital ‘C’ is us, the people of God!); and the coming persecutions of the Church will purify those who remain so that a smaller, purer church will be reborn. And when the secular world is spent, vibrant communities of Christians will emerge to get us through this second dark ages. For Christ told us that, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 13:18).
We have to learn from our history. Former powerful Empires are gone, Kingdoms are no more, and even liberal democracies will one day end. But the Church will survive and thrive for we rely on our Blessed Lord and He will never abandon us.
That is what the world cannot understand. So-called ‘Progressives’ (what an elitist title!) think they have the answers and see the Church as at best an outdated relic, and at worst a danger to modern society. But when the Big Shift happens, and what we thought was progress turns on us, only Faith can rebuild and find community. The true answer was right in front of us, but it seemed too outdated to be the solution.
When the Roman Empire collapsed and there was no longer any law or order, the Church created intentional communities of Faith (known as monasteries). These communities of Christian Faith took care of the poor, protected the innocent, taught the ignorant, and started to rebuild anew based not on the myths of the past but on the solid rock of Christ. Learning grew in these centers and civilization began to spread. These communities were lights in the darkness. Our Universities came from them. Imagine that! The same Universities who now scoff at religion were started by religious people. In Europe: Oxford, Paris, Cambridge. Even in America, Protestant Christians built Harvard, Yale, and Princeton to name a few. And from these religious centers came great art, the spectacular Cathedrals and the Renaissance.
My point is simply that we have already been through giant cultural and intellectual shifts. The Church has not just survived, it has grown and prospered.
So, whenever this Big Shift happens, even if it is a disaster, the Church will be there to pick up the pieces and begin again. We have always done that and we will do it again.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more that conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:35-37)