Chastisement Is A Silver Lining
Thomas A. Droleskey
One correspondent, a friendly one, I should add--that is, one who was not blaming me for having "elected" Barack Hussein Obama as the next President of the United States of America, wrote to say that it was hard to find a "silver lining" after having read yesterday's article, Figures of Antichrist. What I wrote to him is thus the title of this article, "Chastisement is a silver lining."
Naturalism, I am afraid, has such a hold on us that we tend to get fearful and hyperventilate in the midst of difficulties rather than to rest secure in the knowledge that God Himself has known from all eternity that the exact circumstances we find ourselves in at any given moment of our lives would occur. His discipline in the midst of difficulties is not to be a cause of complaint or anxiety. No. It is to be a cause of rejoicing and gratitude. We must be grateful that we are alive at this moment in salvation history, grateful for each cross that is sent our way, grateful for being able to participate in the work of saving souls, starting with our own, by lifting high each cross we are asked to carry as the consecrated slaves of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
God's chastisement is a sign of His ineffable love for us. He wants us with Him for all eternity in Heaven. We cannot get there, however, if we are not willing to accept His discipline and His punishment so that we can be purified of the stain of our own sins and thus be better able to plant seeds for the restoration of the Church Militant on earth and of Christendom in the midst of the world. We must never lose sight of these words which the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, God the Holy Ghost, inspired Saint Paul the Apostle to write:
And therefore we also having so great a cloud of witnesses over our head, laying aside every weight and sin which surrounds us, let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us: Looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, who having joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and now sitteth on the right hand of the throne of God. For think diligently upon him that endured such opposition from sinners against himself; that you be not wearied, fainting in your minds. For you have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin: And you have forgotten the consolation, which speaketh to you, as unto children, saying: My son, neglect not the discipline of the Lord; neither be thou wearied whilst thou art rebuked by him.
For whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth; and he scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. Persevere under discipline. God dealeth with you as with his sons; for what son is there, whom the father doth not correct? But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are made partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons. Moreover we have had fathers of our flesh, for instructors, and we reverenced them: shall we not much more obey the Father of spirits, and live? And they indeed for a few days, according to their own pleasure, instructed us: but he, for our profit, that we might receive his sanctification.
Now all chastisement for the present indeed seemeth not to bring with it joy, but sorrow: but afterwards it will yield, to them that are exercised by it, the most peaceable fruit of justice. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, And make straight steps with your feet: that no one, halting, may go out of the way; but rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness: without which no man shall see God. Looking diligently, lest any man be wanting to the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up do hinder, and by it many be defiled. (Hebrews 12: 1-15.)
It is not only for the sins of our nation throughout its sordid history of exporting evils throughout the world that we are being chastised at this time. We are being chastised for our own sins, our lack of fidelity to the truths of the Catholic Faith by our placing trust in everything but the totality of that Faith as the foundation of personal and social order. There has been so much short-sighted emphasis on attempting to "retard evils" by means of the ballot box that we have lost sight of the fact that evil has been advancing exponentially no matter who gets elected.
Indeed, the sleepiness of so many Catholics in the past eight years of the torrents of evil that have flowed forth from the administration of President George Walker Bush and Vice President Richard N. Cheney is very reminiscent of an period in the middle of Third Century A.D. when there was a lull in the persecutions by the civil authorities of the Roman Empire. Catholics the believed all was well and returned to mirth and frivolity, much as most Catholics have in the past eight years refused to condemn their "pro-life" president for advancing one evil after another as they themselves thought that this false "era of peace" was going to last indefinitely. (See Y2K's Lesser Evil Has Brought Us Great Evils.)
Father A. J. O'Reilly's description of the historical scene in the middle of the Third Century A.D. should give us a little pause for concern in our day when so many are trying to devise the "grand strategy" to "regroup" politically for the future:
The hour of sunshine and peace is now drawing to a close, and the year 250 opened, even on its first day with one of the most terrible persecutions that the Church had suffered. The blessings and repose of peace had relaxed the morals of the Christians, and it pleased Almighty God to purify them once more by the fire of persecution. The great Bishop of Carthage, who was secreted in exile during the few months that the storm raged, describes the sad causes that drew once more the terrible sword over the Christian community. “Almighty God,” says the great doctor, “wished to prove His family; for the blessings of a long peace had corrupted the divine discipline given to us; our sleeping and prostrate faith roused, if I may so to speak, the celestial anger. And although we deserved more for our sins, yet the clement and merciful Lord so acted that what has passed has been more a probation than a persecution. The whole world was wrapt in temporal interests, and the Christians forgot the glorious things that were done in the days of the apostles; instead of rivalling their brilliant example, they burned with the desire of the empty riches of the world, and strained every nerve to increase their wealth. Piety and religion were banished from the lives of the priests, and fidelity and integrity were no longer found in the ministers of the altar; charity and discipline of morals were no longer visible in their flocks. The men combed their beards, and the women painted their faces; their very eyes were tinted, and their hair told a lie. To deceive the simple, they used fraud and subtlety, and even Christians deceived each other by knavery and underhanded dealing. They intermarried with unbelievers and prostituted the members of Jesus Christ to pagans. They scoffed at their prelates in their pride, and they tore each other to pieces with envenomed tongues, and seemed to destroy each other with a fatal hatred. They despised the simplicity and humility demanded by faith, and permitted themselves to be guided by the impulses of worthless vanity; they contemned the world only in words. Did we not deserve, then, the dreadful horrors of persecution that have burst upon us?”
Sounds very much like our own time today, does it not? We deserve the same sort of punishment that befell our ancestors in the Faith from the middle of the Third Century A.D. to the Edict of Milan in the year 313 A.D. We should be grateful for this punishment as a sign of God's merciful love for us. After all, how long will God permit us to consider the killing of innocent preborn babies, both by chemical and surgical means, as a regrettable fact of daily live and that it is "no big deal" for one in public life to support such killing under some "limited" circumstances? We deserve a punishment for mortgaging the binding precepts of the Divine Positive Law and the Natural Law to the career interests of professional politicians, whom Dr. Paul Johnson referred to in his Modern Times as the "scourge of the Twentieth Century."
The late Dr. Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn commented in his commencement address at Harvard University 365 months ago on the human tendency, both in the West and in the Soviet-dominated East, to rely upon politics and social reform as the means to "resolve" the problems caused by the sin of men:
We have placed too much hope in political and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession: our spiritual life. In the East, it is destroyed by the dealings and machinations of the ruling party. In the West, commercial interests tend to suffocate it. This is the real crisis. The split in the world is less terrible than the similarity of the disease plaguing its main sections.
If humanism were right in declaring that man is born to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed to die, his task on earth evidently must be of a more spiritual nature. It cannot unrestrained enjoyment of everyday life. It cannot be the search for the best ways to obtain material goods and then cheerfully get the most out of them. It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one's life journey may become an experience of moral growth, so that one may leave life a better human being than one started it. It is imperative to review the table of widespread human values. Its present incorrectness is astounding. It is not possible that assessment of the President's performance be reduced to the question of how much money one makes or of unlimited availability of gasoline. Only voluntary, inspired self-restraint can raise man above the world stream of materialism.
It would be retrogression to attach oneself today to the ossified formulas of the Enlightenment. Social dogmatism leaves us completely helpless in front of the trials of our times. (Solzhenitsyn's Harvard Address, June 8, 1978 )
We have been thinking for far too long in naturalistic terms without realizing that we must be unapologetically Catholic at all times and in all places without any equivocation whatsoever. The false premises of the Modern civil state have influenced us so insidiously and so subtly that we are even unwilling to consider for a moment all of the empirical evidence proving that no evils have been retarded as a result of our Judeo-Masonic electoral process wherein we are expected to disregard one candidate's support for grave evils to defeat another candidate who is said to support those evils to a greater degree, thereby fulfilling Pope Leo XIII's prophetic warning in Libertas, June 20, 1888, about what happens to a society when it gets used to the toleration of more and more evils over time:
But, to judge aright, we must acknowledge that, the more a State is driven to tolerate evil, the further is it from perfection; and that the tolerance of evil which is dictated by political prudence should be strictly confined to the limits which its justifying cause, the public welfare, requires. Wherefore, if such tolerance would be injurious to the public welfare, and entail greater evils on the State, it would not be lawful; for in such case the motive of good is wanting. And although in the extraordinary condition of these times the Church usually acquiesces in certain modern liberties, not because she prefers them in themselves, but because she judges it expedient to permit them, she would in happier times exercise her own liberty; and, by persuasion, exhortation, and entreaty would endeavor, as she is bound, to fulfill the duty assigned to her by God of providing for the eternal salvation of mankind. One thing, however, remains always true -- that the liberty which is claimed for all to do all things is not, as We have often said, of itself desirable, inasmuch as it is contrary to reason that error and truth should have equal rights.
Pope Leo XIII exhorted us two years later, in Sapientiae Christianae, January 10, 1890, to proclaim the Catholic Faith unapologetically, something that so many Catholics across the ecclesiastical divide believe is neither advisable or necessary, thereby denying the efficacy of the graces won for us by the shedding of every single drop of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's Most Precious Blood that flow into our hearts and souls through the loving hands of Our Lady, the Mediatrix of All Graces, to provide us with all of the helps necessary to be as courageous as were the Apostles themselves:
But in this same matter, touching Christian faith, there are other duties whose exact and religious observance, necessary at all times in the interests of eternal salvation, become more especially so in these our days. Amid such reckless and widespread folly of opinion, it is, as We have said, the office of the Church to undertake the defense of truth and uproot errors from the mind, and this charge has to be at all times sacredly observed by her, seeing that the honor of God and the salvation of men are confided to her keeping. But, when necessity compels, not those only who are invested with power of rule are bound to safeguard the integrity of faith, but, as St. Thomas maintains: "Each one is under obligation to show forth his faith, either to instruct and encourage others of the faithful, or to repel the attacks of unbelievers.'' To recoil before an enemy, or to keep silence when from all sides such clamors are raised against truth, is the part of a man either devoid of character or who entertains doubt as to the truth of what he professes to believe. In both cases such mode of behaving is base and is insulting to God, and both are incompatible with the salvation of mankind. This kind of conduct is profitable only to the enemies of the faith, for nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good. Moreover, want of vigor on the part of Christians is so much the more blameworthy, as not seldom little would be needed on their part to bring to naught false charges and refute erroneous opinions, and by always exerting themselves more strenuously they might reckon upon being successful. After all, no one can be prevented from putting forth that strength of soul which is the characteristic of true Christians, and very frequently by such display of courage our enemies lose heart and their designs are thwarted. Christians are, moreover, born for combat, whereof the greater the vehemence, the more assured, God aiding, the triumph: "Have confidence; I have overcome the world." Nor is there any ground for alleging that Jesus Christ, the Guardian and Champion of the Church, needs not in any manner the help of men. Power certainly is not wanting to Him, but in His loving kindness He would assign to us a share in obtaining and applying the fruits of salvation procured through His grace.
The chief elements of this duty consist in professing openly and unflinchingly the Catholic doctrine, and in propagating it to the utmost of our power. For, as is often said, with the greatest truth, there is nothing so hurtful to Christian wisdom as that it should not be known, since it possesses, when loyally received, inherent power to drive away error. So soon as Catholic truth is apprehended by a simple and unprejudiced soul, reason yields assent.
We deserve chastisement not only for our sins but for our failure to profess "openly and unflinchingly the Catholic doctrine, and in propagating it to the utmost of our power," being willing to accept crumbs from careerist politicians while turning a blind eye and a deaf eye to the evils they support as a matter of principle and as the basis of public policy. Oh, yes, we, each of us, deserves the chastisement that is upon us.
Father Frederick Faber described the situation of the modern world by explaining how the passage of the life of the Church Militant on earth is summarized in a Corpus Christi procession:
I said that Corpus Christi was naturally a day of processions. Now the whole history of the Church may be viewed as in itself a vast and various procession, seen under all the vicissitudes of war, as a caravan of pilgrim soldiers fighting their way from east to west. Now it is in little straggling bands with the apostles on the Roman Roads, or now encamped with the obscure Proselytes of the Gate round the Jewish Synagogues in the Roman Provinces. Here we behold it, an army of martyrs, with the pontiff at its head in the dim chambers of the Catacombs; there it is out before the world's eyes, all gleaming and glancing with the ensigns of imperial favour and command. One while it is pushing its way across the desert to reach the unevangelized nations; another while it is curbing the inundations of the whole barbarian north. Now it has absorbed the whole civilized world into itself and in its mediaeval splendours; and again it is mingled through the crowd of base literatures, of wicked philosophies, of corrupted civilizations, and of debased diplomacies, never lost to the eye, always cognizable, always suffering, always royal always unlike anything else in the world, like the children of Israel in the Red Sea when the solid waters stood up as a wall on their right hand and on their left.
The procession of the Blessed Sacrament is a compendium of Church History. It is a disclosure of the mind of the Church in all the vicissitudes of her warlike pilgrimage. It makes us feel as past ages have felt and as generations will feel in times to come. It gives us a taste of her supernatural disposition, and helps powerfully to form the same disposition within ourselves. It is not the triumph of the Church because she has finally destroyed her enemies and is victorious. Every day is only bringing new enmities to view, and unmasking false friends. The whole of the extraordinary versatility of human wickedness is simply at work to harass and exhaust the Church by the multiplicity and unexpectedness of its attacks. The empire of the demons abounds in fearful intelligence, backed by no less fearful power, and the Church has to prove it all. There is not a change in the world's destinies which is not a fresh trial for the Church. There is not a new philosophy or a freshly-named science, but what deems, in the ignorance of its raw beginnings, that it will either explode the Church as false, or set her aside as doting. There is no new luxury of our modern capitals, but the devil or the world enter into it with a mysterious possession, in order to make a charm of it against the Church and her mission to the souls of men. Heresy can be pious, reverent, philanthropic, a zealot for public morals, patriotic, liberal, conceding, if so only the Church can be wounded by the stratagem. No! it would be premature indeed if at this day the Church should sing her paean because she has finally destroyed her enemies and is victorious.
Neither is the feast of the Blessed Sacrament a triumph because she is at peace. She never gets beyond a truce, and it is seldom enough that she ever has so much as that. She can never be at peace until the day of doom, nor while there is yet a soul, that is not already reprobate, left unsaved. Her very alliances must needs be full of suspicions from long experience, and in reality they are rather fresh anxieties than permissions for repose. She has often been in alliance with the governments of the world, and thereby has many a soul been saved that would have been lost. But such alliances cost her the blood of martyrs and the toilsome sweat of popes, and at the best she can live in them only as the timid deer in the forest whose every echo is ringing with the hunter's horn. She is less at her ease in a Concordat than in a Catacomb. So with educational and reformatory movements; so with legal efforts for political liberties; so with philosophical and scientific leagues; so even with the graceful enervations of beautiful and refining art. She has her place in all these things, because she has a mission to them all; but she does not, may not, dwell with them in peace.
Neither does she triumph because heresy is stifled all over the earth. For new heresies wax while old ones wane; and each schism as it decays is the fruitful parent of many more. In truth heresies are a condition of her life, and the unwitting cause of nearly all the intellectual magnificence of her dogmatic teaching. Nevertheless it is doubtless a pleasure and a triumph to her children to see how year after year various heresies seem to shed their Christian elements, and to work their way with a blind fatality outside the ring of revealed truth altogether. There is not perhaps a single year in England which does not see some section of protestant opinion repudiate its own starting point and anathematize its own first principles, and so either lose its hold on earnest minds, or drop with indifferent minds into the growing gulf of simple weary unbelief. An Englishman should be the last person in the world to deem the Church was triumphing because heresy is extinct.
Neither again is she triumphing because she has outlived so many foes who at one time seemed to be actual conquerors: though this phenomenon must be a daily subject for her devout thanksgiving and renewed confidence in God. The turbid flood of protestantism, daily subsiding and leaving waste tracks of dismal mud, behind, never covered the earth so dreadfully as Arianism in the early centuries; and as the one passed, so will the other. Protestant prophecies are coming untrue, and making their rash author a laughing-stock year after year. Date after date of the infallible destruction of the Papacy passes on with the harmless course of the four grateful seasons, and the calendar of heretical prophecy is left disdainfully, cruelly unfulfilled; and they will figure in the half antiquarian novels of our posterity as the vagaries of the Rosicrucians, and the sabbaths of the Lancashire witches do in ours, emblems and monuments of the undignified weaknesses of the human mind. Still souls are lost meanwhile, and the Christian eye is fixed far more on that lamentable fact than on the successive extinction of her foes, which it is as natural and common-place a thing for her to expect as that the sun shall rise, or the harvest, plentiful or scarce, shall come in its appointed season.
Neither does she triumph because the Blessed Sacrament is to her a foretaste of the joys of heaven and of its eternal satisfactions. Men do not triumph in anticipations, and the feast of victory must be something more than the pleasure ardour of desire. Nay, truly, if I shall not seem to be uttering a conceit, I will say that this one day is the only day in the year in which she does not seem to think of heaven; rather, she acts as if it had come to her, and she needed not to go to it. And this brings me at once to the real cause of her spiritual triumph. It is because she has Jesus Himself with her, the Living God, in the Blessed Sacrament. It is no commemoration of Him; it is Himself. It is no part of the mystery of the Incarnation; it is the whole mystery, and the Incarnate One Himself. It is not simply a means of grace; it is the Divine Fountain of Grace Himself. It is not merely a help to glory; it is the glorified Redeemer Himself, the owner and the source of all glory. The Blessed Sacrament is God in His mysterious, miraculous veils. It is this real presence of God which makes Catholicism a religion quite distinct from any of the so-called forms of Christianity. It is this possession of her God which is of necessity the lifelong triumph of the Church. Nothing short of this could be a a real or sufficient triumph to the Bride of Christ. (Father Frederick Faber, The Blessed Sacrament, written in 1854, republished by TAN Books and Publishers in 1978, pp. 20-23.)
We have God Himself in the Most Blessed Sacrament in these days of apostasy and betrayal and persecution. Why do we fear a little chastisement? We have His Most Blessed Mother, who has given us numerous aids (the Brown Scapular, the Rosary, the Miraculous Medal, the Green Scapular) for our sanctification and salvation. Why do we fear a little chastisement? Why do we fear a big chastisement? Why do we fear at all? Suffering is indeed the path to triumph for all eternity in Heaven. Can't we be generous in offering up the difficulties of the present moment to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary as we pray as many Rosaries each day as our states-in-life permit and as we spend time with Our Beloved where He can be found in those Catholic venues served by true bishops and true priests who make no concessions to conciliarism or its wolves in shepherds' clothing? The fear engendered by naturalism will dissipate the more that we envelop ourselves in the things of eternity.
Yes, chastisement is a silver lining in and of itself for which we should be most grateful. The chastisement of the moment is being sent to us in large part to help us find our way out of the strait-jacket that is the Judeo-Masonic lie of naturalism. I know that I have no hope of saving my immortal soul, stained with so many sins over the course of my lifetime, absent the rod of correction which God uses to beat me down into dust and to humiliate me for my stubborn refusal to give my whole heart and soul to Him at all times. We should be grateful for being permitted to live in these challenging times so that the chastisements of the moment may help us to make reparation for our sins as the consecrated slaves of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary so that we will be better able to think, to speak and to act as Catholics at all times as we seek to discharge the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy.
Our Lady's Immaculate Heart will triumph. We simply need to be faithful we accept hardship as the price of our sanctification and salvation:
For which cause I admonish thee, that thou stir up the grace of God which is in thee, by the imposition of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear: but of power, and of love, and of sobriety. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but labour with the gospel, according to the power of God. (2 Tim. 1: 6-8.)
With our Rosaries prayed well and our fervent remembrance of the Poor Souls in Purgatory being uppermost in our minds this month of November, let us take refuge in the simple fact that millions upon millions who have gone before us marked with the Sign of Faith, that is, the Sign of the Cross, have been willing to embrace that Cross with love, joy and gratitude. Why can't we in the midst of our own difficulties? Why can't we?
Viva Cristo Rey! Vivat Christus Rex!
Isn't it time to pray a Rosary now?
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!
Saint Joseph, Patron of Departing Souls, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.
See also: A Litany of Saints