In 1932, at his inauguration for his first term in office, an ebullient Franklin Roosevelt famously declared, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” In his manner as well as with his words, his aim was to rally a nation in the depths of the Great Depression and, flowing from it, a pervasive fear born from hopelessness. He was saying, in effect, “Look at me. I’m full of confidence. I believe there is a way out of our current troubles. Follow me and I’ll lead the way out.”
Whether Roosevelt’s presidency is a living memory for you, as it is for me, or you have only read or heard about it, and even if you regret his domestic policies, are glad of his failures (like his attempt to pack the Supreme Court) and deplore his pushing the U.S. through his “backdoor to war,” it’s hard not to acknowledge that he knew how to lead. The man ran the country from a wheelchair for twelve years. Amazing!
Compare his leadership with that of our current supposed president when he went on television to tell us that we faced “a dark winter of illness and death.” If we view the past two years of Covid as this generation’s moral equivalent of the Great Depression, how can Biden’s doomful forecast possibly be regarded as meant to allay hopelessness and fear? To the contrary, it could have no effect but to deepen them. Biden, or whoever programs him, meant to scare, to frighten, to instill fear. Fortunately, his speech was not as damaging as once it would have been because more and more Americans plainly perceive how the Washington regime’s fear-mongering is designed to cow and control them: Get vaxxed and wear a mask! Shut up and obey!
Proof this awareness is growing lies in the way most Americans now ignore Anthony Fauci. Outside the studios of CNN and MSNBC and the enclaves where our political and social elites reside – Chevy Chase, Menlo Park, Beverly Hills – who pays attention to him anymore? The truth taught by the children’s fable of the boy who cries “Wolf!” too often was not learned by the Jesuit-schooled Fauci.
To the limited extent the Jesuits can still be regarded as Catholic, our reference to them brings these lines nearer to their point, which is that ordinary Catholic faithful should be less dismayed by the actions of the regime in Washington during the pandemic, which are only to be expected, than disgusted by our bishops as a body (while always reverencing good men among them like Bishop Strickland of Tyler, Texas).
To put my comments in context, let me explain there are three institutions that stand as intermediaries between us and the liberal state intolerant of anything to which the citizen may give allegiance prior to itself. They are family, community, and religion. Because they shield us, the modern state seeks to weaken them and is abetted in this wittingly and unwittingly by others, including (too often) the bishops.
The first institution, consisting of a married couple (a male father and female mother) and children is close to being on its last legs in this country with only 17.5 percent of Americans now living in one. The advent of easy divorce, if it was not the primary cause of the institution’s breakdown, certainly played a leading role. The prohibition of it is still on the Church’s books, but has anybody at any time in the past 60 years heard a priest of the mainstream Church preach on the indissolubility of marriage (or, as far as that goes, against the anti-family, anti-life practice of contraception)?
As for community, identity politics has all but destroyed it. In its place we now have the “Black community,” the “trans community,” the “gay community,” and sundry others portraying themselves as the “victims” of “oppression”.
When it comes to religion, all that concerns us here is the Catholic Church, which is hierarchically ordered by Providence so that, in matters proper to it, lay adherents are subject to the bishops. Our subordination to them immediately raises a difficulty. That is insofar as the bishops of the U.S., ever since the consecration of the first one, the Jesuit-trained John Carroll in 1789, have methodically ignored Our Lord’s last commandment to his followers: to make disciples of all the nations. Instead of trying to evangelize the country – instead of trying to make it Catholic – the most they have done is beseech politicians and social elites to give Catholics a slice of the great American pluralistic pie. (Maybe we should say, in p.c. liberal fashion, “equal slice,” but that would raise the question of equal to whose. The Baptists? The Presbyterians? The Episcopalians?)
How much fealty is owed to hierarchs who have shirked a duty enjoined on all Catholics by Our Lord?
Also, it is tangential to our point but important to observe that with the bishops eschewing a unique position for the Church and her teachings, let alone a commanding one, it has been impossible for any U.S. political leader to assert, in the language of Pope Pius XI’s encyclical Quas primas, that “the state should take account of the commandments of God and of Christian principles, both in making laws and in administering justice.” If one did, wouldn’t it look like he was being more Catholic than the bishops? Is it right for a politician or other laymen to be more Catholic than the bishops?
No, but on occasion it is necessary. Let us remember that 500 years ago scores of bishops and thousands of priests led millions of Catholics out of the Church into Protestantism. There is no material difference between then and our own day when countless of the faithful are being led into the Modernism that has steadily been expanding its sway these past sixty years. Now the bishops have reached the point that the ordinaries of major sees like Washington, D.C., New York, Boston and Chicago, are on record as believing so little in the Holy Eucharist that they see no compelling reason to refuse it to our militantly pro-abortion supposed president.
Yet the failure of the bishops to execute the duties of their office was still more dramatically manifest at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 when government ordered the de facto house arrest of everyone in the land in order to “flatten the curve” and then kept them cowering there (where many still remain out of fear). Then it was that for the first time in the 2,000-year history of Christianity the bishops, unmindful of Heaven’s demands but quick to obey the world’s diktats, closed all churches so that Mass and the sacraments became unavailable at a moment when their spiritual fortification could hardly be more needed by the faithful. Who would do that except shepherds lacking in the faith of those members of the flock who would worship no matter what? Did the shepherds think such sheep didn’t exist, or didn’t they care? The latter was probably the case. After all, in a hierarchically-ordered Church and in their own eyes, who could be more Catholic than themselves?
It’s been acknowledged here that this time – the moment of history in which we live – is one of trial, but which time is not? Human nature is fallen, meaning that men often choose to do bad things. Of course there are differences between today and other bad times. For instance, at the time of the so-called Reformation apostate clerics at least left the Church. Today’s problem is apostasy within. Similarly, today’s secular-liberal state, drifting toward tyranny, seeks to terrorize citizens not with the prospect of a concentration camp for dissenters but with the threat of a “dark winter of illness and death” if they don’t submit to being injected with an abortion-tainted experimental drug. We haven’t seen this kind of bio-medical tyranny before.
I said a moment ago that men often choose to do bad things. However, there are among them ones who endeavor to do good or at least refrain from doing evil. They include Catholics, abandoned by the bishops and with little left standing between them and the power of the state, who yet make their purpose in life the purpose of life: to praise and serve God and thereby save their souls. They praise Him mainly by prayer and serve Him by obeying His commandments. Obeying His commandments – acting according to His will – is what especially distinguishes them from many others. To put it in a nutshell: they fear God, not Caesar. They must try to stay right with Him lest they fall from His grace. To be sure, they sometimes fail, but when they do the Church provides the sacrament of confession as the remedy. Availing themselves of it, they press on, continuing a journey toward the fulfillment of their life’s purpose, Attained, it will be the fulfillment of their hope.