Put not your trust in princes: in the children of men, in whom there is no salvation.
A reminder that today is the one-year anniversary of Benedict XVI's abdication inspired some reflections on the wild ride we have had since that day, both in the Church and in secular society.
For those with eyes to see, it should be clear that we are under chastisement. Events are accelerating. Everything we had taken for granted up to now, from bedrock institutions to moral principles, is disintegrating. The capital of Christian civilization, built up over two thousand years, is nearly all frittered away. The enemies of everything we held dear now have the upper hand, and they are busily engaged in destroying. The unthinkable daily morphs into the commonplace. One is more and more conscious of being an outsider, even among family and friends, as one is unable to join them in embracing socialism and homosexual unions and abortion and hatred of the Catholic Church, and a host of imaginary "rights", the pursuit of which is costing us our authentic rights.
A chastisement is meant to make us straighten up and start flying right. But at the moment, too many people like what's going on. There are a few who recognize the evil for what it is and deliberately choose it; many more, probably most, are deluded by the pursuit of their own comfort coupled with blindness to supernatural realities. They think this is victory for the good guys. They think things are finally going the way they should. They look at wholesale destruction and see creation. They look at murder and see mercy. They look at oppression and see liberation. They look at lies and see the truth -- whatever truth they find most convenient.
To too many people -- even many Catholics, including priests and bishops and religious -- what is happening does not look like divine punishment. Since too many of us do not see this as punishment, not enough of us are straightening up. That is why I fear we are in for something far worse than what we have seen up to now.
Who knows what form it will take? Very likely, something that will hit us precisely where we are most complacent. We have grown decadent in our wealth: even the poor in America have color televisions, cars, air conditioning and more than enough to eat. And, for most of America's existence, she has enjoyed freedom from foreign invasion. A dozen years after 9/11, we have sunk back into apathy. Now that the United States is an oligarchy run by persons friendly to her enemies, perhaps it is only a question of time before our economy plunges into the abyss and the scourge of war lashes us in our own streets.
So, do we just give up and crawl back into our caves? The time will come when that won't be an option. But there is in any case no neutral ground: we have set before us life and death, and we must stretch out our hand to one of them. We must choose life.
Should we pursue political remedies? Of course. I have advocated previously in this space for Mark Levin's proposed constitutional amendment convention, which the Founding Fathers had the foresight to provide for for times just like these. But that is not going to be enough. The chastisement will not be taken away until the reasons for it have ended. Those reasons are in our own hearts, and our hearts need to be changed. We need sorrow for our sins and purpose of amendment. We need to do good and avoid evil. We must be holy as God is holy. For that, we need sanctifying grace. I fear many people -- many Catholics -- are living without sanctifying grace. I fear -- and it is horrible to consider -- that many are dying without sanctifying grace.
God is under no obligation to give us what we need to be holy if we don't ask for it, so we must pray, especially the Rosary. The Rosary was given to us precisely for our times. We must pray the Rosary not only for ourselves but for others. It is the best thing we can do. The time is coming, and may already be here, when it will be the only thing we can do.