In the Gospel of St. Matthew, Our Lord says the following:
"When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times."
Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes asks us to try to interpret the signs of the times in the light of the Gospel. Obviously, interpreting the signs of the times is very important, but not easy.
Today, as in other times, the United States is confronted with many serious problems. A failing economy, the imposition of many socialist measures which purport to deal with the failing economy, the growth of statism here and in Russia, and declining morality, which seems to be picking up some speed lately. Our young people have profligates and libertines in the entertainment industry as heroes. We have a society loaded with cheaters: cheaters on taxes in the President’s cabinet; cheaters on spouses so common that almost no one is shocked by it; liars as governors of states and senators; clerics living double lives; and an epidemic of cheating on examinations. Islamic fascism still threatens us, but so many politicians, lawyers and media personnel act as if this is all in our heads.
Now, economics and political science are real sciences and successfully attempt to explain many of these phenomena. The problem is that at times another science needs to be brought in to help us to understand the reality behind these distressing things. That science is sacred theology.
What does theology tell us? It tells us that there is a whole sub- and super-strata surrounding the visible world. As for the sub-strata, St. Paul tells us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph 6:12). In other words, behind the visible life we see is a struggle going on between Satan and his minions and God and his angels, with us the living as the battlefield. We Catholics cannot afford the luxury of working on our personal salvation only. The whole cultural and unseen spiritual milieu affects the spiritual life of everyone. To ignore this, as most of us do, is to let the forces of Satan triumph.
In his famous book The Apostleship of Prayer, Father Ramière, S.J., writes that just as God will not save us without our cooperation, neither will he save our brothers and sisters without our cooperation. The world lives in darkness (see 1 Jn). In order to dispel the darkness, Jesus Christ must be brought into the world. God has entrusted his Church—all of it—clergy, religious and especially laity, to bring the light of Christ into the world. (See John Paul II’s encyclicalChristifidelis laici.) But the signs of the times demonstrate clearly that this is not being done.
This will be a five-part series that will examine the signs of the times and hopefully will evoke severe soul-searching among us Catholics who tend to look on the natural side of current affairs. We will look at events in the Scriptures and in history, and then at spirituality to provide food for thought and prayer, so that we can do all in our power to turn things around toward the Truth.