Last week in the Office of Readings we read of the struggles of Elijah the Prophet, who spent his life fighting the influence of the Canaanite god Baal in Israel.
Every now and again in times like these, times of cultural confusion, times when so many Catholics have fallen away from the practice of the faith or are so breezily dissenting, I think of the prophet Elijah at his lowest moment. He was in a cave, anxious and fretting, so depressed he could barely eat.
Those were very dark times, when huge numbers of Jews fell away from the exclusive worship of the LORD and bent the knee to Baal. Jezebel, the foreign wife of the Jewish King Ahab, was instrumental in this widespread and growing apostasy. Elijah fought and fought against it, and at times felt quite alone.
So there he was, fleeing from Queen Jezebel (who sought his life) and deeply discouraged by his fellow Jews, who were either too confused or too fearful to resist the religion of the Baals required by Jezebel. Elijah seems to have felt quite alone. Perhaps he thought he was the last of those who held the true religion. 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?” 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,
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! It is a small remnant to be sure, but Elijah is not alone. A small remnant remains faithful and God will rebuild, working with them.
Elijah is commanded not to give way to discouragement, but rather to keep preaching and to 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 and even discouraged in the face of our current cultural decline. How many of our countrymen and even fellow Catholics have bowed the knee to the Baals of our time, accepting the doctrines of demons? How many have been led astray by the Jezebels and the false religion of the Baals of our time, setting aside the Cross and substituting 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 widespread misunderstanding about marriage; rampant 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 grievously, 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, and polygamy seems to be on the horizon.
So here we are today in a culture of rebellion. And, sadly, too many in the Church (even among the clergy and Church hierarchy) are bewitched, succumbing 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 His followers, He won thorough to the end.
Are you praying with me? Stay firm; stay confident; do not despair. There are seven thousand who have not bent the knee to the Baals of this age. With a small group, the Lord can win through to the end. Are you among the seven thousand? 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 so many of you readers, I remember, too, that I am not alone. When 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 stand with Him and persevere to the end. Get up, Elijah. Go prophesy, even if you are killed for it. Keep preaching until the last soul is converted.
29 Replies to “God Still Has His Seven Thousand – A Meditation for Those Who Feel Alone and Discouraged”
Thanks for the words of wisdom. Your strong faith is reflected in your words. Once again, thanks. Thomas V Yanoti MTS
Yes frCharles Pope, i am among the seven thousand. And i thank God for the strength through you to persevere.
I love you, Fr. Pope. Every time I read your articles I am strengthened; it seems you say exactly what I’m feeling and need to hear. Thank you so very much.
Thank you for the encouragement.
Thank you, Father, for reminding us that God works even with very little, like in the miracle of the loaves and fish…
I think for many the anguish is more personal than simply directed at our society or civilization: it’s about people we know choosing the wrong side, sometimes even within our families – this is very painful, and scary too.
I agree with you, Mrs. B. It’s hard enough looking at what’s happening in society, but it’s harder still when it gets personal, and who is immune to it among family, friends. So many going along with society, so many going astray.
Coming here each day strengthens me, through your words, Msgr. Pope, and also knowing, as you said, we’re not alone. I cannot say how many people I have sent here to your blog to find help and encouragement. I hope they’re coming, because we need each other. Again, I thank you, and pray for you each day.
I’m thankful to be reminded that we are not alone but that God can work wonders even through few beleivers. I like this passage from the Bible and I intend to read it many times, it lifts up our spirit and we keep going by faith in the Lord.
Once again you express so clearly what is wrong among the laity and the clergy. We are all called to conversion and to spread the gospel. The question is how do we do that? It seems in some circles, some prefer gimmicks rather than the proclamation of the Gospel.
Thank you for an inspiring message for these terribly difficult times. This is not the world I was born into and not a world I’d ever dreamt I’d see the like of. May the Sacred Heart of Jesus have mercy on us.
Thank you, Monsignor, for your words. At times, I am frightened by what I am seeing in our country, and in the world. But you’re right! I am not alone, and God will watch over His own.
Another one hit out of the ballpark, monsignor! Thank you, and may our Good Lord continue to richly bless your priesthood.
In my business (media) it is especially challenging to remain hopeful. It’s no wonder to me why so many of my peers end up in despair and go over to the dark side (glorifying sin and scandal, demagoguery of the Church and noble institutions such as traditional marriage, publishing click bait, etc.) Your work inspires me to stay the course.
I’m also grateful to have encountered a priest who loves old time religion and Gospel music!
Thank you, Mnsr Pope! A very encouraging reflection!
Dear Monsignor Pope,
Are you familiar with the writings of Mark Mallett? He often quotes Pope Benedict such as Pope Benedict’s comments regarding a remnant church. I want to be part of the remnant!
Thank you for this.
Thanks for the terrific pep talk(blog). Keep on fighting the good fight.
Elijah’s despair was in part due to his spiritual narcissism. He believed he was more holy than every other Jew. In his pride, he lied to the Lord about his holiness – once in the cave, then again after the four miracles – and so the Lord told him Elisa would succeed him, for he lost his prophetic office for lying to God.
So we shouldn’t think we are more holy than others, and thus shouldn’t despair, but ought to know there more holy souls than us in the world – to say nothing of the Church Suffering and Church Triumphant, who are with us at every Mass.
I’m sorry, but I do not see this about the prophet. In his moment of despair, he prayed; “Enough, LORD! Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then God strengthened Elijah, summoning him to Horeb where he experienced a Theophany and received from Him a commission that was brought to fruition, over time, by God through Elisha’s disciple. It passed to Elisha only when Elijah was taken up. (cf. 2 Kgs 2)
A beautiful article.
But what is so depressing now is that countless Catholics are abandoning ship on both the right and the left. I am used to “Catholics” succumbing to the demon-worship that is modern secular culture. But now there are so many souls who have always seen themselves as orthodox Catholics essentially abandoning the Barque of Peter on the other extreme — throwing venom at the Vicar of Christ, refusing to be submissive to him, and trashing the Novus Ordo.
The Devil is sifting the Church like wheat right now.
Let the Love of GOD remain in us in these days of confusion. Let GOD’s holy people cry in anguish over the souls being led into perdition by these secular, indifferent and obtuse media and academe. LORD, we know YOU are in control. Come, how long must we wait for YOU to bring about YOUR rule upon this wayward world? Confront us now for we long for YOUR Goodness to dwell in those who do not know neither acknowledge YOU. Have mercy on us, Oh LORD.
Very inspiring article. I am not as familiar with the Old Testament as I should be so thank you also for a good Scripture lesson.
@Daniel – constructive criticism of some of the Pope’s decisions and the liturgical reforms does not mean someone has taken a stance against the Faith. The most orthodox leaders in the Church have been critical of the Novus Ordo.
Elijah and Israel, a powerful voice that comes out of the covenant, a warrior who finds himself back in battle time after time with heavenly and earthly support. Elijah alone would be defeated, many prophets were slaughter, many faithful were persecuted, the blood, the suffering, the
witness unleashes the power of God to act on behalf of his people, his remnant. Baal or the Lord, a terrible slaughter indeed, we can face the sword of Baal or face the sword of the Lord, one kills the other destroys.****** To be killed by Baal is literal for some in this world but for many its a form of persecution for being a witness to the Most High and his Covenant.
There really is no other option but God. Like Peter says to Jesus, “Where would we go Lord?” The other side has nothing but death, despair, and destruction to offer. There is nowhere else to go to find the truth.
I have found it is far better to suffer a little for the truth, than to live in shame and desolation for the lie. Those who deny God laugh in our presence, but what we don’t see is the tears shed in private, or the woe in their hearts. We should pity them, and pray for them, but never envy their apparent success and apparent happiness. Because it is a show and a sham.
That God uses a remnant to show His power, to show He is Creator and Lord, is awe inspiring. He also tends to pick the weak and inadequate of the remnant to be leaders, also to demonstrate it is His work and action being done, because the instrument doesn’t have the capability to do such incredible works.
Thank you for this pep talk Msgr. You are right. In times like these, we do need to be reminded of all you have said. It really helps.
“Once more unto the breach!” God bless you, Msgr. Pope and the faithful “seven thousand.”
Thank you once again, Mgr Charles, for your words of wisdom and encouragement. We all need it – especially right now.
Daniel O’Connor above, wrote:
“The Devil is sifting the Church like wheat right now.”
How right I believe you are, Daniel.
I recall being mysteriously moved to write, over thirty years ago, in the book of Prayer Intentions at Our Lady’s Chapel in my local Cathedral here in Portsmouth, “I strongly feel that the Devil’s last and most furious up-front battle will be with and within the church and his attempts at the destruction of the family. Please pray for God’s intervention and grace to help us go on trusting.”
I recall that the Priest Administrator at the time laughed at me and told me not to be melodramatic! “In any case,” he continued, “What do you think ‘you’ know about it?”
I shall, of course, not comment further, since I think this very arrogant rejoinder speaks for itself – and the rest is history, as they say!
From that moment, I decided to rest in the wonderful words of our dear Lord who assured even we few that we do not have to worry:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Thank you Lord Jesus.
God bless all
I am praying with you. You are not alone. And now I realize I am not alone. Thank you, Monsignor for this powerful reflection. I come to this blogspot every day to learn. You have opened up the scriptures for me not only with this post but with your many other teachings. I feel that you are guiding me and your other readers through the darkness of these times like a good shepherd. Never doubt that you have reached and touched many souls.
Thanks Mons Pope, your advice is very helpful. Like Elijah, I know I can become very discouraged seeing so many of our loved ones not practicing their faith and feeling so helpless to do anything about it. We wonder what on earth we can do, but then we must remember to trust in our God completely, as God’s mercy is infinite – and the power of our prayers is far beyond our understanding.
God bless you Mons.
AMEN , Msgr. Pope !!!
and thanks to Ray for the John 16:33 reminder…
Comments are closed.