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There’s a fascinating piece by William Oddie on the Catholic Herald blog about Our Lady of Quito saying that there would be a ‘spiritual catastrophe’ in the West. Among the signs of the times would be that:

“there will be unbridled luxury, which will ensnare the rest into sin and conquer innumerable frivolous souls, who will be lost. Innocence will almost no longer be found in children, nor modesty in women. In this supreme moment of need of the Church, the one who should speak will fall silent.”

As with the prophecies at Fatima, Our Lady spoke dolefully, but truthfully (of course). The tides rises higher, and the wind gets fiercer, and faint hearts fade away. But that was always the way.

In the fat years, especially when Christianity was/is the State religion, then everyone is a Christian, and the meaning of being a follower of Jesus Christ is diluted. Cultural Christianity continues long after the need to be a Christian, or the utility of being one, disappears. It can be one of the things which makes some Christians want the church to be more like their State – that will prolong the status quo; in a paradoxical way, some liberal Christians are actually quite conservative.

The eighteenth century in England was a period of some licence (rather like now, but without the drugs to deal with sexually transmitted diseases, and no internet), and it was the laxness of the State Church which drove that great and good man, John Wesley, to travel the length and breadth of England preaching one thing – ‘Christ and Him crucified.’ The great nineteenth century Evangelist, Charles Spurgeon, said it wonderfully in a sermon he preached in 1855, and this part has always stuck in my memory:

 I do not believe it is preaching Christ and him crucified, to leave out the main cardinal doctrines of the Word of God, and preach a religion which is all a mist and a haze, without any definite truths whatever.

And yet that is what is so often required of Christians in the public sphere.

One American blogger, short little rebel has found that libertarianism has its boundaries – not too much of that ‘Bible bashing, please, ma’am’. The indomitable Rebecca Hamilton in Oklahoma pays a price for being a ‘Public Catholic‘. Indeed few, if any, who ‘confess Christ crucified’ in a way that would have satisfied Mr. Spurgeon come away unscathed in public life. The new Catholic archbishop of Glasgow is just the latest to get it in the neck  (even in the generally pro-Catholic Daily Telegraph for making comments out of line with the modern belief that gay sex has no adverse consequences. He has discovered the truth that no rendering of traditional Christian belief on this subject goes unstoned.

For sure, some, many perhaps, will be turned away or will not come. Well, it was ever thus. St. Athanasius stood alone against the world. But Our Lady’s words lead not to despair, but to where they always lead, her beloved Son – and Him Risen:

“To test this faith and confidence of the just, there will be occasions when everything will seem to be lost and paralyzed. This, then, will be the happy beginning of the complete restoration.”