Every now and again in times like these, I think of the prophet Elijah, anxious and fretting in a cave, so depressed he could barely eat. He was fleeing from Queen Jezebel, who sought his life. As Elijah looked to his beloved Israel, he saw a rather discouraging portrait of fellow Jews who were either too confused or too fearful to resist the religion of the Baals required by Jezebel. He seems to have felt quite alone. Perhaps he was the last of those who held the true religion, or so he thought and felt. In the cave, Elijah pours out his lament:
And there he came to a cave, and lodged there; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away” (1 Ki 19:9–10).
But God will have none of this despair or complaining, and says to Elijah:
And the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria; and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. And him who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay; and him who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. Yet I have seven thousand in Israel, that have never bent the knee to nor bowed to Baal, nor kissed him with the mouth” (1 Ki 19:15–18).
So there ARE others—a small remnant to be sure—but Elijah is not alone. A small remnant remains faithful and God will rebuild, working with them.
Thus Elijah is commanded not to give way to his discouragement, but rather to keep preaching and anoint leaders and a prophet who will keep preaching after him.
And here, then, is a lesson for all of us.
In times like these, it is hard not to feel like Elijah: deeply disappointed, even discouraged in our current cultural decline. How many of our countrymen and even fellow Catholics have bowed the knee to the Baals of our time and accepted the doctrines of demons? How many have been led astray by the Jezebels and the false religion of the Baals of our time, and have set aside the Cross and substituted the pillow of comfort and selfish desire? And thus now, like then, many are told to immolate their children, to kill the innocent through abortion (and call it choice or “women’s healthcare” or “reproductive freedom”). There is also widespread misunderstanding about marriage, widespread divorce, cohabitation, and fornication, children being born outside of holy matrimony, and wide approval for same-sex unions—even the open celebration of homosexual activity. All of this harms children immensely by shredding the family, the very institution that needs to be strong so as to raise them well.
Euthanasia is also back in the news, as a young woman (whose name will NOT be mentioned here) euthanized herself. Many lionize such actions as “heroic,” etc. But such actions are better seen as a cowardly refusal to embrace the Cross, and as an action that diminishes the dignity of all those who are suffering and dying. Such an action threatens the lives of the sick and dying by introducing expectations that they should follow the course of euthanasia.
So here we are today in a culture of death. We are marked, too, by widespread sexual confusion and promiscuity and an incapacity to see these problems for what they are: sin and rebellion. And, sadly, too many in the Church are bewitched, even among the clergy and Church hierarchy, who succumb to false compassion.
But lest we become like Elijah in the cave, discouraged and edging toward despair, we ought to hear again the words of God to Elijah: I have seven thousand in Israel, that have never bent the knee to nor bowed to Baal.
God has a way of working with remnants in order to rebuild his Kingdom. Mysteriously, He allows a kind of pruning, a falling away of what He calls the cowards (e.g., Judges 7:3; Rev 21:8). But with those who are left, He can effect a great victory.
Consider that, at the foot of the cross, only one bishop, (i.e., one priest, one man) had the courage to be there. Only four or five women had such courage. But Jesus was there. And with a remnant, a mere fraction of followers, He won thorough to the end.
Are you praying with me? Stay firm; stay confident; do not despair. There are 7000 who have not bent the knee to the Baals of this age. And with a small group, the Lord can win through to the end. Are you among the 7000? Or do the Baals hold some of your allegiance? Where do you stand?
Elijah was reminded that he was not alone. As I hear of the faith of many of you readers, I remember, too, that I am not alone. As I hear the “Amens” in my congregation as I preach the Old Time Religion, I remember that I am not alone. There are many good souls still to be found. Seek them out; build alliances and stand ready to resist, to fight the coming and already-present onslaughts.
I am not sure of the ultimate fate of Western Culture (frankly, it doesn’t look good). I am not sure if these are the end times or just the end of an era. But of this I am sure: Jesus wins and so do all who will stand with Him and persevere to the end. Get up, Elijah. Go prophesy even if you get killed for it. Keep preaching till the last soul’s converted.