My Thoughts

There is something silent in the world these days. Whether suppressed or merely ignored or forgotten, I do not know. What I do know is we seldom hear the voice of reason; it has been silenced and the silence is deafening. One voice, a popular one at the time, seen and heard regularly on radio and television for a half-century was the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. He wrote many books but one, in particular, calls out for our attention: Communism and the Conscience of the West (1948). In it, he notes that the Devil will come in disguise, far different from the comic book mischaracterization most have of Satan.

The Antichrist will not be so called; otherwise he would have no followers. He will not wear red tights, nor vomit sulphur, nor carry a trident nor wave an arrow tail as the Mephistopheles in Faust. This masquerade has helped the devil convince men that he does not exist. When no man recognizes, the more power he exercises. God has defined Himself as “I am Who amand the devil as “I am who am not.”

Nowhere in Sacred Scripture do we find warrant for the popular myth of the Devil as a buffoon who is dressed like the first “red.” Rather is he described as an angel fallen from heaven, as “the Prince of this world,” whose business it is to tell us that there is no other world. His logic is simple: if there is no heaven there is no hell; if there is no hell, then there is no sin; if there is no sin, then there is no judge, and if there is no judgment then evil is good and good is evil. But above all these descriptions, Our Lord tells us that he will be so much like Himself that he would deceive even the elect — and certainly no devil ever seen in picture books could deceive even the elect. How will he come in this new age to win followers to his religion?

He will come disguised as the Great Humanitarian; he will talk peace, prosperity and plenty not as means to lead us to God, but as ends in themselves. He will write books on the new idea of God to suit the way people live; induce faith in astrology so as to make not the will but the stars responsible for sins; he will explain guilt away psychologically as inhibited eroticism, make men shrink in shame if the fellowmen say they are not broadminded and liberal; he will be so broadminded as to identify tolerance with indifference to right and wrong, truth and error; he will spread the lie that men will never be better until they make society better and thus have selfishness to provide fuel for the next revolution; he will foster science but only to have armament makers use one marvel of science to destroy another; he will increase love for love and decrease love for person; he will invoke religion to destroy religion; he will even speak of Christ and say that he was the greatest man who ever lived; his mission he will say will be to liberate men from the servitudes of superstition and Fascism, which he will never define.

The third temptation in which Satan asked Christ to adore him and all the kingdoms of the world would be His, will become the temptation to have a new religion without a Cross, a liturgy without a world to come, a religion to destroy a religion, or a politics which is a religion—one that renders unto Caesar even the things that are God’s.

In the midst of all his seeming love for humanity and his glib talk of freedom and equality, he will have one great secret which he will tell to no one: he will not believe in God. Because his religion will be brotherhood without the fatherhood of God, he will deceive even the elect. He will set up a counter-church which will be the ape of the Church, because he, the Devil, is the ape of God. It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content. It will be a mystical body of the Antichrist that will in all externals resemble the mystical body of Christ.

In a radio address seventeen months after the end of the Second World War, then Monsignor Sheen pointed to the signs of the times and the post-war generation turning away from God and toward the Antichrist.

The signs of our times point to two inescapable truths, the first of which is that we have come to the end of the post-Renaissance Chapter of history which made man the measure of all things. More particularly the three basic dogmas of the modern world are dissolving before our very eyes. We are witnessing: 1) The liquidation of economic man, or the assumption that man, who is a highly developed animal has no other function in life than to produce and acquire wealth, and then like the cattle in the pastures, be filled with years and die. 2) The liquidation of the idea of the natural goodness of man who has no need of a God to give him rights, or a Redeemer to salvage him from guilt because progress is automatic thanks to science—education and evolution, which will one day make man a kind of god as H. G. Wells said, with his feet on the earth and his hands among the stars. 3) The liquidation of rationalism, or the idea that the purpose of human reason is not to discover the meaning and goal of life, mainly the salvation of the soul, but merely to devise new technical advances to make on this earth a city of man to replace the City of God.

We are witnessing the death of Historical Liberalism which like a sundial is unable to tell the time in the dark and which can function only in a society whose basis is moral and when the flotsam and jetsam of Christianity is still drifting about the world. Historical Liberalism is a parasite on the Christian Civilization and once that body upon which it clings ceases to be the leaven of society, then Liberalism itself must perish. The individual liberties which Liberalism emphasizes are secure only when the community is moral and can give an ethical foundation to these liberties. It may very well be that the historical liberalism of our modern generation is only a transitional era in history between a civilization which was Christian and one which will be definitely anti-Christian.

The second great truth to which the signs of the times portend is that we are definitely at the end of a non-religious era of civilization, which regarded religion as an addendum to life, a pious extra, a morale-builder for the individual but of no social relevance, an ambulance that took care of the wrecks of the social order until science reached a point where there would be no more wrecks; which called on God only as a defender of national ideals, or as a silent partner whose name was used by the firm to give respectability but who had nothing to say about how the business should be run.

 The new era into which we are entering is what might be called the religious phase of human history. But do not misunderstand; by religious we do not mean that men will turn to God, but rather that the indifference to the absolute which characterized the liberal phase of civilization will be succeeded by a passion for an absolute. From now on the struggle will be not for the colonies and national rights, but for the souls of men.  There will be no more half-drawn swords, no divided loyalties, no broad strokes of sophomoric tolerance, there will not even be any more great heresies, for they are based on a partial acceptance of truth. The battle lines are already being clearly drawn and the basic issues are no longer in doubt.

It is for the world we fear. It is not infallibility we are worried about, but the world’s lapse into fallibility; we tremble not that God may be dethroned, but that barbarism may reign; it is not Transubstantiation that may perish, but the home; not the sacraments that may fade away, but the moral law.

Never before in history has there been such a strong argument for the need of Christianity, for men are now discovering that their misery and their woes, their wars and their revolutions increase in direct ratio and proportion to the neglect of Christianity. Evil is self defeating; good alone is self-preserving.

Notwithstanding the passage of almost three-quarters of a century—perhaps because of it—one can only ponder how prophetic Venerable Sheen’s words now appear.

Wake up America!

Just my thoughts for a Thursday, for what it is worth.

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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