Chalcedon’s recent piece, which has sparked such controversy, is a reminder that we are living in an age of uncertainty, both within and outside the Church. Uncertainty is inimical to faith, for “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). The souls of men are “failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Luke 21:26). These “powers” are commonly understood as the stars and planets, and indeed Christ’s coming will be accompanied by such signs. But they are something more: they are the spiritual powers that were created before the earth itself. These powers have ruled the nations from the time of Babel until Christ took up His throne upon His glorious ascension. Even now they are being shaken, till every knee bows and confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The world is in convulsion, in attack and counter-attack. The Church is being brought into a time of purgation – yes, Protestants, I used the P-word. The days ahead will be hard, not easy, and will present each of us with a choice. The experience of the Catholic Church is evidence of this. We live in an age when authority itself is questioned, when anarchy rages in some quarters and seduces in others. The darkness is still upon us, for the Day Star has yet to dawn – but when He does, His justice and His love will be revealed.
I cannot offer my Catholic brothers specific advice on how to navigate these times, for I am not a Catholic. But they have my sympathy, as do all people who find themselves enduring affliction and those who are desperately seeking the truth in an age of confusion. But this promise Christ has for those in such circumstances, those who are sincere: “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted…Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled… Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5). Christ has not left you, nor will He, for He has promised: “Never will I leave you, nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). He is with you in your hearts, in your sacred assemblies, in the communion of the Eucharist. And if He is in you, then so are the Father and the Spirit, for the Most Blessed and Holy Trinity has promised, “we will come to him, and make our abode with him.”
We have testimonies from the history of God’s people to encourage us in these perilous days. The Maccabees were faithful and God granted them victory over their enemy. The Christians of Rome suffered under the wicked emperors, but God cast them down and raised up Constantine to liberate them. The Christians of Egypt, Syria, and Iraq are enduring terrible torments, but God comforts them through miraculous visitations and the ministrations of godly priests.
The West is experiencing turmoil – and it will continue. We must not delude ourselves with the promises of the political and financial classes. I do not wish to imply that our governors are not trying their best to fix our problem, and indeed we should pray for them, as for our spiritual leaders, but these convulsions cannot be calmed through economic or political policies. These times require us to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves”, and they require our prayers. I will not make predictions about the collapse of Europe or the further wars of the East – you have no need that I should do so, the signs are there to read. Things cannot carry on as they are: the harder things get, the more radical the policies will become. But we must attend to our hearts, lest they become as hard as stone and as cold as ice – truly this is what I fear the age is doing to God’s people.