What Nobody Can Take from You

In the midst of the global psyop that is currently weaponizing people’s fear, anger, hatred, and other disordered passions, there is much that has been lost: money, property, education, peace, sanity, stability, even, in many places, physical access to Holy Mass and the sacraments. All of this has been based upon a carefully woven tissue of lies, distortions, half-truths, and hysteria.

As more and more people are coming to realize that we’ve “been had,” a natural and justified reaction sets in: anger. This is the passion we experience when an evil that is difficult to avoid is now upon us. Because this is the essence of anger, and because the Covid hysteria is an evil that was difficult to avoid, anger is appropriate. In all such circumstances, our duty as Christians is to moderate the reaction of anger by the virtue of meekness, which is easier said than done. In this connection, we should mention that Holy Scripture does not tell us, “Be not angry,” but, rather, “Be angry, and sin not” (Ps. 4:5).

I believe that citizens the world over are right to protest the unjust infringements of governments upon their rights in the name of a globalist, pseudoscientific plutocracy, whose cult of lying “experts” have brought us this managed crisis. I further believe that the faithful should make known to their lawful pastors the deep indignation that is theirs for having been deprived (to varying degrees in different places) of the spiritual goods that is the very purpose of those pastors to provide to them. Holy Mass and the sacraments are integral to that third munus of the bishops: to teach, to govern, and to sanctify. As a friend recently remarked: Decades ago, certain bishops were telling the world that the Catholic sacraments are not necessary for salvation; today, many of their successors are simply acting on that particular form of unbelief.

All that said, we ought to focus on what no man can take from us. The things I speak of are divine realities that cannot be stolen by anyone — not governors, not mayors, not the globalist oligarchs or their alphabet-soup of interlocking agencies, NGO’s, and foundations; not even bad priests or bishops. There is a twofold metaphysical reason these things cannot be taken away: first, they are not from man but from God; second, they are intrinsically inalienable. The things of which I speak are faith, hope, and charity; sanctifying grace; the Gifts of the Holy Ghost; the Beatitudes; all fourteen works of mercy and the personal store of merit that accrues to us when we perform these works in sanctifying grace and under the influence of actual grace.

It is Catholic doctrine that our store of personal merit, upon which each of us will be judged by Jesus Christ, is inalienable. You cannot transfer it to others, and others cannot take it from you.

But let us go deeper. If all the forces of the world, the flesh, and the devil — including those in the Church who have become enemies of our common salvation — were focused on you and you alone, they could not rob you of any of the things on that list. In fact, if they militate against you, they actually give you chances to augment these things; or, in the case of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost, to radicate them more deeply in your soul; or, in the case of the various acts in question (the Beatitudes, the works of mercy), to perform more of them that become even more meritorious.

In other words, the enemies of our salvation occasion us working out our salvation, albeit with the requisite “fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). This is why we must ever anchor ourselves to the Cross, embrace the Cross, love the Cross. It is our only hope.

Isn’t this the way it was when Jesus was crucified in the first place? Satan and his useful idiots went after Our Lord seeking His ultimate destruction. That effort set the stage for our redemption when God worked a supernal good out of an infernal evil. Many of the Fathers of the Church spoke of Our Lord’s sacred humanity being a sort of “bait” or “trap” set by God for the devil. Some Protestants have assigned to this poetic figure a theological value that seems a bit disproportionate and have dubbed it the “mousetrap theory of the atonement” — a rather grandiloquent reading of a lovely Christian metaphor. Still, they have collected wonderful excerpts from our Catholic Church Fathers (see here, here, and here). A curious artistic play on this figure may be found in the Mérode Altarpiece, the right panel of which portrays Saint Joseph making mouse traps while the Annunciation takes place in the central panel (more on this fascinating altarpiece here).

Let us not get lost in the weeds of this imagery. The devil took the bait, was trapped, and the full force of his preternatural malice was redirected to cause his own defeat. That pattern — mutatis mutandis — can take place in all our lives. No matter what this fallen world, our rebellious flesh, or the impure sprits do to lead us into sin, with the grace-aided practice of Christian virtue all of it can be used for God’s glory and our sanctification. (I’m tempted to invoke the “Judo principle” here, whereby the enemy’s strength is used against him, but I fear someone might concoct the “Judo theory of the atonement,” so forget I ever wrote it!)

For the Trappist spiritual writer, Dom Mary Eugene Boylan, all is simplified to living a life of faith, hope, charity, humility, and abandonment: a drum he beautifully beats on over and over in his masterpiece, This Tremendous Lover. As long as that supernatural panoply is in our souls, the enemies of our salvation can attack and we will remain safe. But if bitterness, hatred, anger, or other disordered passions arise in our soul as a result of the attacks against us, then there was already something missing in our souls in the first place: there was a little void not filled by goodness, and malice has taken root there, occasioned by our troubled circumstances.

But even here we can profit. With humility, we accuse ourselves, do penance, and renew our embrace of the Cross. It’s so easy to write, so hard to practice. But we have “a cloud of witnesses over our head” (Heb. 12:1) who show us that it can be done.

Two passages from Saint Paul come to mind here. I perhaps quote them too often, but repetitio est mater studiorum. “And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints” (Rom. 8:28). And: “Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good” (Rom. 12:21). These can both be programmatic during difficult times.

Nobody can take spiritual goods from your soul; nobody, that is, but you. When we come to stand before the dread tribunal of Our Lord, we cannot tell Him that circumstances in the twenty-first century were simply too difficult for us to live and die as Catholics in the state of grace, loyal to the faith and morals He gave us through Holy Mother Church. If we attempt such a lame excuse, He will accuse us of not doing our duty to combat our enemies — His enemies — without losing faith, hope, and charity. And when we see the nailprints in His hands, we will comprehend the futility of all our excuses.

The oration from this week’s Sunday Mass and office is perfectly ad rem to this:

Almighty and everlasting God, give unto us the increase of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may deserve to obtain what Thou dost promise, make us to love that which Thou dost command.

These are tough times. But tough times, with God’s grace, make saints — which is the common vocation of all the baptized: grace in this life and glory in the next.

Let’s get busy.