I would like to be able to write like Anthony Esolen every day. His latest, at the increasingly useful Crisis, is not to be missed.
Most of us who are paying attention to the signs of the times, know that something is heading straight towards us that, while it will be done unto us according to God’s permissive will, we aren’t going to enjoy. Esolen says it in his piece as bluntly as I’ve been saying it for a while too: We are at war.
In this War, there will be the usual suspects. History repeats and we tend to divide up rather like stock characters in commedia dell’arte.
Esolen identifies four groups which will emerge when the persecution of the Church really gets going. I’ll give you a taste, by means of excerpts, but you really must go there to read it yourselves.
What Will You Do When the Persecution Comes?
I know there are plenty of Catholics who are, in one way or another, looking forward to the relentless institutional persecution that is coming our way unless we surrender the One Thing Needful to the secular left, and that is the family-destroying and state-feeding beast called the Sexual Revolution, with its seven heads and ten horns and the harlot squatting atop it. As I see it, these Catholics belong to four groups.
First are the Persecutors. These people hate the Church, and that is why they remain ostensible members of it. They desire from within to punish the Church for what they perceive to be her sins, which these days have nothing to do with her teachings on the Trinity or the nature of Christ, but with sex—so tawdry are our heresies. O Arius, Arius, would that we had such as you for our enemy! The Persecutor has unbridled contempt for Pope John Paul II, the too-lenient father whom the Persecutor, like a spoiled brat, portrays as a tyrant, and for Benedict XVI, whose broad-ranging and penetrating intellect makes the Persecutor feel puny by comparison.
Second, the Quislings. The Quisling does not hate the Church, but he does not love her, either. He is a worldling and craves the approval of the world. He believes in “the future,” and that means he is easy prey for the peddlers of ideological fads: a field mouse against the Great Horned Owl. He is embarrassed by tradition. He is seldom brave enough to express formal heresy, just as he is seldom brave enough to defend the Church with any clarity or confidence. He seems pleasant enough, is perfectly lamb-like when it comes to wining and dining with the powerful, but will turn with a pent-up frustration against the ordinary churchgoer who dares to question his prudence. If he is a bishop, he is secretly happy to close churches and sell off their property, comforting himself with the thought that he is doing what is only necessary in hard times, and blaming the parishioners themselves for failing to bring up their children in the faith—when in point of fact he and the chancery have given them no help at all in doing so, and have usually checked them at every pass.
Then comes the Avenger. He has tried to live in accord with the Church, and has received mainly contempt from her, or neglect, or persecution. That has curdled him within, and he now hates the Church such as she is more than he loves her as the bride of Christ. He sees that the Church has compromised herself by taking Caesar’s coin, even when Caesar offered it at first with the most innocent of intentions, and so he looks forward to the time when Holy Mother will have to do without that money. It occurs to him that that will kill an untold number of Catholic schools and colleges, but he says that they deserve to die; and he does not clearly consider how many souls will be lost. To him, it is better that there should be no Catholic school at all, than that there should be a school struggling to remain Catholic in a bad time—struggling, and often failing, but struggling for all that.
Last we have the Soldier. The Soldier complains about his superiors not because they give him bad orders, but because they give him no orders at all. He wants to do battle, and is willing to be led. He knows that war is hell, but that he and the Church have not sought the war. The war and the demons who lead it have sought the Church, to adulterate her or to kill her. The Soldier would prefer peace: he would prefer that his country might return to at least a worldly sanity, and grant the Church the liberty that she is owed and that redounds to the great benefit of the state itself.
Each one of those lacunae represents great reading.
Lately I’ve cited the message attributed to Leon Trotsky: You might not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.
I can’t shake the premonition that, shortly, we are really going to be in it up to our necks. We should all start getting our heads into a mental place where we will be better able to handle the stresses to come. Prepare for darker times.
Fathers: May I make a suggestion? Can you say a Mass, a Mass with a particular formulary, by heart? No book? All the antiphons? The readings, too? This could be useful in the future. Remember, too, that wine valid for Mass can be made from raisins. It should resemble regular wine as much as possible. Some Easterners makes wine for their Eucharist from raisins, by letting the desiccated grapes set in water for sometime so that fermentation will take place. File that away in your memory and start memorizing stuff.