My Thoughts

Have you noticed the “white privilege” of the iconoclastic mobs? It is all the rage. Behind all the masks are, for the most, white faced ideologues hurling sticks and stones while spitting f-bombs at anyone who dares to stand in their way of making Hell on earth their reality.

About 60 percent of Americans believe in the existence of Hell. For those who don’t, a pretty good working replica has been on display in our streets since the May 25 police killing of George Floyd.

People tend to imagine Hell as a lake of fire, thanks to Scripture, or nine descending circles of torment, thanks to Dante. But I suspect the real Hell is both more prosaic and more terrifying. It’s something akin to the answer Faustus got when he asked the devil Mephistopheles how, since he’d been damned, he could manage to leave Hell: “Why, this is hell,” said the demon, “nor am I out of it.”

Just as love is the furnace powering heaven, rage—with all of its subcurrents of confusion, despair, frustration and conflict—irradiates hell. The damned cannot escape it because they cannot escape themselves. Hell is the shape they have made for themselves.

Henri de Lubac once noted that, in the modern era, hatred for religious heretics had declined. But not, he said, because we have grown more charitable hearts. Instead, we simply transferred our interests and our hatreds to politics. Our real passion today is power and eliminating anything that stands in our way of getting it and exercising it. ~Francis X. Maier,

I have never understood why Lucifer, an angel of the highest order in Heaven, the first among the angels, could be so dissatisfied, so full of himself, that he would give it all away for Hell. It makes no sense, but then, neither do the privileged mobster morons bent on remaking America, this shining city upon a hill, into a new socialist Hell. And yet, the mobs are not the problem, not really; the mobs have no power, true power rests with those behind the throne.

We all sense that the current crisis in our nation is more than just a passing bit of social unrest. The anger legitimately directed at racism and police brutality has somehow morphed into an indiscriminate rejection of the past, a desire to sever us from all that came before.

This renunciation might seem all-of-a-sudden to many people. In fact, it’s been prepared for years by bad education and, even more, the erosion and weakening of that foundational virtue, piety. … By piety I mean reverence for the people, wisdom, principles, and institutions that precede us and have shaped who we are. Piety is the virtue that inclines us to receive instruction from those who have gone before us. We regard them as having some wisdom to teach us, not only about this world but the next. Piety disposes us to be taught.

But piety is first of all a natural virtue. The Romans prized it highly. To drive home its importance, Virgil repeatedly refers to Rome’s founder as pious Aeneas. In fact, one scene from the Aeneid serves as a great summary of piety’s importance for a nation.  As the Greeks are sacking Troy, Aeneas salvages what he can from the city. He hoists his aged father on his shoulder and, taking his son by the hand, leads them out of the city.

That is, he brings with him both the wisdom of the past and the promise of the future. That image is perhaps a first-century anticipation of Edmund Burke’s observation: “Society is a contract between the past, the present and those yet unborn.” Piety draws from the past to provide for the future.

As the Romans intuited, piety is essential for a free people. Ordered liberty requires something that comes from beyond it – beyond present trends, or control by the state; an order that reaches beyond the present to give future generations more than mere government can provide.

We live in an impious culture, which if it will not change will not long be free. For us the past has nothing to teach; only the present matters. Wisdom is discounted; only technology is worthwhile. We are increasingly cut off from the examples of our flawed but noble past. In The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis wrote about such impiety: “We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.” Likewise, we refuse to receive the wisdom of our founders and wonder at our current confusion.

Our culture celebrates impiety as liberation from outdated ideas or constraints. Our celebrities traffic in it for laughs and to burnish their “woke” credentials. The more dismissive of the past, the more woke you are.

In fact, all that impiety does is leave us vulnerable to whatever ideological virus is in the air. The impious are fickle – rootless, unprincipled, chasing after novelties. Having nothing stable, they have nothing to give the descendants they will not have. They are history’s orphans: no patrimony to receive or to bestow.

It’s not the impious who are free but the pious. Those tethered to the wisdom of the past are not seduced by ideologies or panicked by demagogues. Piety prompts a reverence for the rule of law rather than an arrogant or casual dismissal of it. What is more, devotion to lasting principles means the pious have something to contribute. They have materials from which to build. Piety thus serves as the necessary foundation for reform, which is why two of our greatest reformers – Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. – rooted themselves in Christianity and our nation’s founding.

Most of all, religious piety contributes to a free society. Religion has been the bearer of wisdom, both human and divine, throughout the ages. Faithful people are pious people. Their piety extends, yes, to the goodness of their nation – but also and more importantly to the wisdom bestowed by the devotion of centuries and millennia. ~Fr. Paul D. Scalia,

One final thought. It seems as though the chickens have come home to roost. By all appearances, the iconoclastic mobs are largely white, privileged middle- to upper-class young people “educated” by our “finest” educational systems. Admittedly, this is a superficial generalization since everyone seems to be hiding behind a mask these days but nevertheless until otherwise proven otherwise, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. The question then is why? Why are the younger generations so dissatisfied?

For younger generations of Americans, the notion of liberty has become an abstraction. They don’t regard big government as an enemy of their individual liberties because they have been raised during an era of big government, and neither their parents nor their schools have instilled in them a proper appreciation for liberty and the sacrifices required to sustain it. ~Sean Hannity, Live Free or Die.

President Ronald Reagan once said, “Freedom is but one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” Wake up America!

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

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: 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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