All around me I see Catholics who seem to be reeling in confusion, fear and despair because of the troubles we are going through right now. One reader wrote to me saying, “Where is hope? I despair because of the terrible troubles we are going through!” Others write complaining about the church leadership, the pope, the bishops and the bad priests. Still others are alarmed and afraid because of the pandemic, the social unrest, the crazy political situation and the economic uncertainty.

More worrying are those who do not know which way to turn in their faith. They see the gay mafia still covering up, still promoting their own to the highest positions. They see the bishops they thought were good bishops kow towing to the gay lobby, the leftists and the braying crowds. They see statues of saints pulled down with silence from the cowardly bishops. They see the sacraments suspended and the churches closed and they despair and fear for the future.

I’d say two things in the midst of the confusion, fear and despair. First of all, read more history. We spoiled and pampered Americans have had it easy for the last fifty or sixty years. With amazing affluence, power and freedom we’ve had it good. So we expect this to last. We expect this to be the status quo, but one of the hardest lessons to learn is that disappointment is based in wrong expectations. If you expected your life to be a comfortable little Disneyland experience your whole life, that was a wrong expectation. In fact, history shows that the poor old human race in most places and in most time periods from the beginning has been subject to plagues, disasters, warfare, strife, revolution, bloodshed, rivalry, revenge, rioting, looting and mayhem. That’s what life has been like for most human beings in most places in most times down through history.

Life was short. Life was brutal. Life was full of unexpected tragedy, sickness, death, disease and sorrow. It was a vale of tears.

It’s only recently that we’ve had it so good, and now the baby has had the lollipop taken away he’s bawling his eyes out.

So buck up. Change your expectations and you won’t be so disappointed. Instead you’ll see each new day as a great challenge. Pray more. Get involved. Make a difference. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”

Here’s the second thing. Do you want to know why so many Christians–Catholics included–are dithering, despairing, discouraged and confused? Do you want to know why so many are trembling, disoriented and blaming their priests and bishops for everything that has gone wrong? Do you want to know why so many have departed the faith, shipwrecked their religion and abandoned ship? It’s very simple. For a long time a huge number of Christians – Catholics included- have been following a false religion. They’ve been following a whole long list of false religions.

The false religion I’m talking about is a religion that dresses itself up as Christianity but, in fact, it has very little to do with Jesus Christ the King of Glory at all. It puts on a disguise and pretends to be Christian, but it’s not Christian. It’s faux Christianity–and is just about as real as plastic flowers or a bad face lift.

Here is the false religion: it is the devotion to some worthy cause rather than a devotion to Christ. Jesus has been forgotten and his glorious cross and resurrection have been put in an ecclesiastical museum. So instead of following the Lord Jesus his so called followers will follow just about any ideology other than Jesus Christ crucified, risen, ascended and glorified.

Here’s a list of the ideologies and worthy causes they follow instead of Jesus:

  • justice for LGBTQ people
  • anti-abortion
  • environmentalism
  • the “proper” liturgy
  • feeding the hungry
  • making America Great again
  • feminism
  • capitalism
  • socialism
  • home schooling
  • anti-racism
  • personal liberty
  • justice for immigrants
  • scholasticism
  • spirituality
  • infiltration of the Vatican
  • single payer healthcare
  • evolutionism
  • creationism
  • de-fund the police
  • law and order

Everybody has a cause. Everybody has an agenda. Everybody has their politics. Everybody has their soapbox. Everybody wants to change the world.

In the meantime Jesus is still out on the mountain alone praying to the father. Jesus is still the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Jesus is still the sign of the eternal loneliness of God. Jesus still hangs on the cross abandoned by the very ones he called to be his friends and disciples.

Only when we turn again to the cross, the resurrection and the glorious ascension will we find peace. That pascal mystery and the Mass by which it is commemorated is the still point of the turning world. In the cross of Christ I glory towering o’er the wrecks of time. If you fix your whole life and gaze on the cross and the redemption of the world you will not be disturbed by the tumult in the world. You will not be disturbed by the corruption in the Vatican, the incompetence of bishops, the compromise with immorality, the venality and the foolishness of the prelates. Nor will yo be disturbed by the wholesale sell out of the majority of your fellow believers.

At the cross only John the beloved was there with Mary his mother.

Be John. Be with Christ crucified. Make Mary your mother.

Immortal Combat – Confronting the Heart of Darkness is a meditation on this theme and it was given, I am convinced, for the times in which we live.