In this series, we have seen the pattern that has been the lot of nations that have abandoned God. God is truly the protector of those nations who believe in him, trust in him, and do his will. Even though salvation is of the individual soul, salvation takes place in the context of social units—family, neighborhood, country. God can protect the milieu within which we and our families and our politicians flourish, but he does so because the people want him to. God does not force himself on anyone. If a person or a society generally, by coldness or immorality, tells God that they want him out of their lives, he will get out. But this does not mean he totally abandons them. God is the “Hound of Heaven.” His constant baying never ceases to call us back to the source of all truth and of all love. He raises up saints in all walks of life to be prophets to continue this call. And of course, suffering comes on the society which no longer wants his protection because of his holiness. 

There have been some recent studies showing that the United States’ society suffers from a Narcissistic personality disorder. Those with this disorder focus on themselves—their views, their needs, their ideas. They are supremely confident of their own abilities, and when they fail, they blame others. I have no idea how accurate these diagnoses are, but there is obviously some truth to them. A Narcissistic person would reject any need for God, nor would they care about others. These people tend to think that they are experts in things that others have spent their lives studying, but they have not spent five minutes studying. Hence, they have no need to listen to others; they have no need to pray. They are self-saved. They can defy God’s teachings and remain among the “pure.” 

If this sounds like the behavior of some so-called Catholic universities recently, this is no coincidence. These universities are merely mirroring the Narcissism in the society. They do not need obedience to Church teaching; they do not need humility; they are immune from the Divine guidance that the Church gives. The same with Catholic politicians who openly defy clearly stated Church teachings as well as the public admonition of the bishops and even the Pope. 

One can possibly excuse the non-Catholic and non-Christian for such behavior. The world lives in darkness. But Our Lord told us that we are the “light of the world,” and the “salt of the earth.” If we Catholics do not illumine the world, who will? If we do not flavor the earth, how will it be flavored?

The main way to perceive the will of God is prayer and listening to Church authorities on matters of Faith and morals. I believe from my own experience that many, many Catholics do not know how really to pray. Outside of vocal prayer, few know how to have a personal, interior relationship with God, and the Church in this country has always been remiss in teaching Catholics not only how to do this, but in teaching the very need for it. And if it was bad when I was a kid growing up in Catholic schools in the 1950s, it has been much worse since then. This has contributed to Catholics adopting the Narcissism of the society at large. Forgetting about God creates a vacuum into which we, you, me, are sucked. The vacuum also opens the door to secular saviors like Hitler or Obama (note: I am not saying that Obama is Hitler), and the massive growth of state power and manipulation of the people under the guise of helping others. For instance, most recently, the “Global War on Terror” phrase has been dumbed down to the “Overseas Contingency Operation.” If you have read Orwell’s1984, you may perceive this as “newspeak,” as was President Clinton’s talk of taxing and spending as “investment.” (Take a look at a member of the English Parliament tell-it-like-it-is to the British Prime Minister on this link.)

It appears that the United States, and Europe before us, is now living in a big dream world. Folks, it’s not just bad economics—it is bad on every level, and most of all on the spiritual! Let’s not replay the past.



 
The time—July 13, 1917. The place—Fatima, Portugal. The appearance of the Blessed Mother of God to three little children.
 
The very horrible World War was still going on. You would think that Europe would have learned its lesson by now. You would think that between the many Scriptural lessons, some of which we have discussed in previous numbers of this five-part series, and the frequent pattern of falling away from God, repentance and falling away again followed by horrible political, economic and related situations, Christians, especially, who have a special understanding of these things, would see that unfaithfulness to God brings about chastisement for the sake of His holiness. But no. Our Lady told the children at Fatima:
 
If people do what I ask, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end [which occurred four months later] and there will be peace. But if people do not stop offending God, another, even worse, will begin in the reign of Pius XI [who was not even Pope then].
 
Obviously, people did not stop offending God! I remembering asking a colleague who used to teach in my department, what did Germany ever do to deserve Hitler. I did not realize that he had published a book on the Weimar Republic, which was the German republic set up after World War I, so he was an expert. He told me that the Weimar Republic was completely decadent in every sense of the term. Political corruption was the order of the day; there was no law and order, so that groups, including the Army, did what they wanted; art was totally nihilistic as well as literature. Sexual immorality was rife. Was there ever a time more ready for yet another chastisement?
 
So, Our Lady told the oldest of the Fatima children on that day in 1913, “When you see a night illuminated by an unknown light, know that it is the great sign that God gives you that He is going to punish the world by means of war, hunger and persecution of the Church and the Holy Father.” She predicted that Russia will spread its errors, which no one understood at the time, because Communism had not yet taken over in Russia. Sure enough, on the evening of January 25–26, 1939, the Aurora Borealis shone farther south in Europe than it had ever done before. Lucia, the oldest of the Fatima children and the only one still living, saw this light from her convent in Portugal. St. Lucia wrote to the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon telling him that a war was about to begin. September 1, 1939, Hitler invaded Poland, and the Second World War was under way. It is estimated that 55 million people died worldwide. In addition, Russia did spread its errors; communism at the time took over one-third of the world, resulting in countless other deaths and sufferings of many people.
 
In this more recent case, Our Lady was the prophet who warned the world, and who actually worked a miracle, the Miracle of the Sun, which over 50,000 people witnessed, including atheists and communists, in order to punctuate her message.
 
This situation is so obvious that it is almost ridiculous to recount it. What does God have to do to get people to return to Him? All that was predicted at Fatima came true, including the fact that the Holy Father (Mary did not specify which one) will suffer. All the popes from that time suffered; they suffered from the sorrow of the war, the persecution of the Church, which continues today, and, of course, Pope John Paul II was shot on the instruction of communist leaders. Pius XII still suffers post-mortem from all those who deny that he helped Jews escape the persecution of Hitler.
 
World War II is over, the communist-caused Korean and Vietnam Wars are over, and Communism has retreated. But now new problems arise, and in the next, and last of these installments, I will analyze this recent phase and its spiritual underpinnings.
 
In case the reader was thinking that the events related in Part II were ancient history with no reference to more recent times, let us remind ourselves that God is God. He is unchanging. And while Our Blessed Lord and Savior brought the new Law of Love to earth, this does not mean that God has somehow become a fool.
 
The time—the 1670s AD. The place—the Convent of Paray-le-Monial, France. Jesus has given a nun of the Visitation Order a number of revelations of His Sacred Heart. These revelations were meant to show men the depth of His love for us, and to get us to return this love. These apparitions were capped by a number of promises Our Lord gave to her for the whole world. He said that this was to be his last attempt to appeal to us to come to him. 
 
In a book I read over twenty years ago about these apparitions to St. Margaret Mary, there was a section I have never seen in any other book, but this section is very important for world historical events, and was probably not included in other books because it did not relate to the personal spirituality of the normal reader. Unfortunately, I do not remember the name of the book, nor have I come across it again since then.
 
What was so important in this book? Our Lord told St. Margaret Mary that if the king of France, Louis XIV at the time, would put the emblem of His adorable Sacred Heart on his shields and banners, there would be nothing He would not do for him! The message was relayed to the king, but the king would not do it. This same king gave St. Louis de Montfort a hard time by making him take down a large Calvary he had set up after a mission in a French town. 
 
The time—1789–1799. The place—France. Forces of the so-called Enlightenment were festering for a long time. These forces, mostly intellectual, proclaimed that reason was the only source of truth, that the Church was a blight on French society, and that a new society had to come about. This resulted in the French Revolution, a shameful period in French history where Catholicism was scoured from French society, a prostitute was enthroned in Notre Dame Cathedral as the Goddess of Reason, and many, many clergy, religious, nobles and commoners were put to death. Priests and bishops who refused to sign the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, which essentially gave control of the French Church to the government, were either exiled or hunted down like rabbits as they secretly tried to minister to their flocks. The main resistance came from the western part of France—the exact part of France where St. Louis de Montfort did most of his missionary work one hundred years prior. The armies of the Vendée, as this section of the country was called, put the emblem of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on their shields and banners.
 
Eventually, the king, this time Louis XVI, was executed and the valiant resistance of the Vendée was put down by a general named Napoleon, who, in 1799, staged a coup, became dictator, and forced the pope to crown him Holy Roman Emperor. Napoleon engaged Europe in warfare for the sake of power and territory to satisfy his megalomaniac desires until 1815, bringing endless suffering and death to the continent.
 
France repented for a time, and there was a Catholic restoration, which had its ups and downs until 1870, the time of the Paris Commune, which was an attempt to hold a communist revolution in Paris. In reparation for the Commune and even for the failure of Louis XIV to put the Sacred Heart of Jesus emblems on his shields and his banners, the French approved the building of a beautiful basilica on the spot of a major location of the events of the Paris Commune. Incidentally, it was on the spot where St. Ignatius of Loyola and his early followers used to meet and St. Ignatius used to say Mass for a time after his ordination. This beautiful church is called Sacra Coeur (Sacred Heart). It was finally consecrated just after World War I.
 
The parallels of these French events to those from the Old Testament should be clear to the reader. The paradigm goes like this. The nation enjoys the special favor of God. Israel, the lands of the great judges, kings David and Solomon, and the prophets; France, “the Eldest Daughter of the Church,” where our Catholic Faith flourished despite some flagging at times, the place where countless saints lived, etc. Then the country begins to slip away from the Faith. As was pointed out in the last entry, for the sake of God’s holiness, trouble then befalls the nation. Then there is repentance, and a period of peace returns.
 
Unfortunately for Judah, its rejection of the Savior, and the subsequent martyrdom of St. Stephen and St. James, the bishop of Jerusalem, coupled with a triumph of the zealots, led to the total destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans and the surrounding territories, and the suicide of the remaining Zealot defenders at Massada in 70 AD. Jesus predicted this event, and the Christians remembered his warning and fled to the town of Pella, prior to the real beginning of hostilities. The horrors suffered by Jerusalem are told in Flavius Josephus’ book,The Jewish War, which Josephus actually witnessed, and in St. Eusibius’ Ecclesiastical History.
 
What about France? Well, France, despite everything, suffered a resurgence of secularism and anti-Catholicism. In 1880, the Jesuits were expelled from France and other religious orders suffered persecution. By 1900, radicals, similar in thought to those from the time of the French Revolution, had taken over. Finally, in 1914, World War I broke out, the bloodiest war in history up until that point, and the stupidest. The war took a total of 16 million lives and there were 21 million wounded. France alone suffered 1.7 million dead and 4.2 million wounded—all for nothing.
 
Here the sad truth displays itself again. When people fall away from God en mass, evil befalls them, for the sake of God’s holiness. So often we get lost in the historical details of events that we lose the spiritual dimension. God is the Lord of History. He is active not only in our personal lives, which so many people deny today, but the rejection of God in our personal lives is reflected in larger events. The Church is like St. John the Baptist—a voice crying in the wilderness—“Make straight of the way of the Lord.” Open your heart to him; do not see him as an enemy cramping your style; see him as a loving God who only wants what is truly best for you! This “best” will lead to eternal beatitude, and peace in your country.
 
Next time, we are going to look at events in 1917 and thereafter. The pattern repeats itself all too soon.
 
Psalm 1
 
Blessed is the man
   who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
   or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight in is in the law of the Lord,
   and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
   which yields its fruit in due season
and whose leaf does not wither.
   Whatever he does prospers.
 
Not so the wicked!
   They are like chaff
   that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in judgment,
   nor the sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
 
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
   but the way of the wicked will perish.