It is, on occasion, discouraging to live in times like these. This appears to be the end of an era, at least in the West. Our culture used to be called Christian or Judeo-Christian. It was not sin-free by any means—there was still greed and there were various forms of oppressive justice—but Christ and the Scriptures were the basis for a consensus on fundamental moral norms. It is hard to argue that our sense of justice enshrined in law over the centuries does not have Christianity in large part to thank for this. Further, our vision that God created the world and imbued it with logic and laws that reason could discern opened the way to the natural sciences and elevated philosophy, the arts, and literature. The establishment by the Catholic Church of the great monasteries and universities helped advance and institutionalize all of this.
Ancient Europe was like a young bride with her Husband, Christ. The Modern West is more like an angry divorcée with little memory of what her Groom has done for her and a raw contempt for His vision. Preferring the darkness, many see the light of the true Christ as harsh and intrusive.
Yes, these are difficult days, and true Christians are often discouraged. Just when it seems our culture cannot become more confused and rebellious, we seem to stoop to a new low.
A reminder of the resilience of truth comes to us in the Office of Readings during this 6th Week of Easter. Evil and error have their day, or even their era, but the Word of the Lord remains forever. In Tuesday’s Office we read this passage:
I have seen the wicked triumphant,
towering like a cedar of Lebanon.
I passed by again; he was gone.
I searched; he was nowhere to be found.
See the just man, mark the upright,
for the peaceful man a future lies in store,
but sinners shall all be destroyed.
No future lies in store for the wicked.
Then wait for the Lord; keep to his way.
It is he who will free you from the wicked,
raise you up to possess the land
and see the wicked destroyed (Psalm 37:35-40).
This truth of the passing of error and the perdurance of truth is verified by history. In the age of the Church, empires and nations, fashions and fads, errors and heresies—all have come and gone—and yet here we are, still, preaching the gospel. The Church has outlasted all her enemies; we have read the funeral rites over many who swore they would destroy us. Psalm 37 says it plainly: “No future lies in store for the wicked.” We are told simply to “wait for the Lord; keep to his way.”
In the Book of Hebrews, we read,
When God subjected all things to Christ, He left nothing outside of his control. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him (Heb 2:8).
Even though we do not see it, the truth is that nothing is outside of the Lord’s control. How could it be? Even the darkest day of Christianity we call Good Friday. Why? Because even on that day of seeming disaster, when the assembled Church shrank to one apostle and four women, Jesus worked His greatest work. He made a way out of no way and in dying destroyed the power of death. He conquered pride by humility and disobedience by obedience. Satan fell right into the Lord’s trap; while he was running victory laps around the cross, Jesus entered his trophy room in Sheol and turned the place out.
Thus, although we do not always see all things subject to Christ, be assured that they are. He is Lord. Satan rages, but mostly because he knows his time is short. He is the “prince of this world,” but this world is passing away.
In the same Office of Readings for Tuesday of this week, we are admonished in this way:
Have no love for the world, nor the things that the world affords. If anyone loves the world, the Father’s love has no place in him, for nothing that the world affords comes from the Father. Carnal allurements, enticements for the eye, the life of empty show—all these are from the world. And the world with its seductions is passing away, but the man who does God’s will endures forever (1 John 2:14-17).
That’s right, “trouble don’t last always.” We may not live to see the passing of these current evils, but they will. The truth will out. Neither be fearful of the world nor fawning over its passing powers and glory, for it is passing. Whoever does the will of the Lord endures forever.
The world and those enamored of its evils laugh at and scorn us now, but if they do not repent, they are going to be very surprised. We must pray and work for the conversion of all, including ourselves, but do not be discouraged. God’s Word is clear: evil and error are passing, but the Word of the Lord endures forever.
Cross-posted at the Catholic Standard: A Word of Encouragement for Discouraged Cultural Warriors