12 August 2014

By the Church or by the Gate?: "They do not seem to be your friends out there."

"You have given us a great deal of labour," he said, "and to no purpose. We shall have to report it all to my Lord Cromwell. I understand that you were the two who refused to sign the surrender. It was the act of fools, like this last. I have no authority to take you, so you had best be gone."

Dom Anthony answered him with an equally steady voice.

"We are ready to go now," he said. "You understand we have yielded to nothing but force."

Ralph's lips writhed in a smile.

"Oh! if that pleases you," he said. "Well, then--"

He took a step aside, and made a movement towards the gate where there sounded out still an angry hum beneath the shouting voice that was addressing them.

Chris turned to his father behind, and the voice died in his throat, so dreadful was that face that was looking at Ralph. He was standing as before, rigid it seemed with grief or anger; and his grey eyes were bright with a tense emotion; his lips too were as firm as his son's. But he spoke no word. Sir Nicholas was at his side, with one foot advanced, and in an attitude as if to spring; and Morris's face looked like a mask over his shoulder.

"Well, then--" said Ralph once more.

"Ah! you damned hound!" roared the young squire's voice; and his hand went up with the whip in it.

Ralph did not move a muscle. He seemed cut in steel.

"Let us go," said Dom Anthony again, to Chris, almost tenderly; "it is enough that we are turned out by force."

"You can go by the church, if you will," said Ralph composedly. "In fact--" He stopped as the murmur howled up again from the gate-- "In fact you had better go that way. They do not seem to be your friends out there."

"We will go whichever way you wish," remarked the elder monk.

-- Robert Hugh Benson, The King's Achievement

It is impossible to contemplate the events in St. Louis during the last 72 hours without reflecting on how thin the veneer of society-- of law, of peace-- really is. Perhaps as every good Catholic should meditate on the Four Last Things, we should also meditate on the prospect of mob rule in our communities as a real possibility. And as the meditation on the Four Last Things ought not to paralyze us with fear, but instead spur us to holy preparedness, so too here.

Our Lord warned us of persecution for the faith, in the Last Days and also at other times not so dramatic. Sometimes persecution is robed with the appearance of law and process, as when our ancestors were killed by Roman emperors or English monarchs. Sometimes the mob will have its way with us, as the crowds that sought to stone Our Lord and St. Paul, or the Masonic revolutionary mobs of France with their guillotine.

Other times, as Grampa Simpson would say, it's a little bit of column A, a little bit of column B.

If you have seen old black and white photos of Americans during the Great Depression, you can picture the scene: almost quaint-- lines of patient job seekers calmly lined up around the block, as well-dressed as their circumstances allowed, seeking the dignity of work, respecting each other. These people had a common Christian outlook, a common set of societal principles. Despite economic collapse, society held.

If you think that scenario would be repeated today, you are delusional. If you haven't marked Ferguson as a preview coming attractions, you probably ought to wake up soon.

Society is on edge, the economy teeters. Catholics are about the only group safe to blame for our problems. If the Nero of antiquity did it, wouldn't today's Nero do the same? And Catholics themselves seemingly are without firm leadership on the ground. It can be easy to feel alone.

Pray. Hope. Love. We will go by the Church, to safety; or by the gate, where the mob awaits. One will be taken, one will be left. It is in God's hands; we must ready, awaiting Him as a servant expects his Master's return. Blessed is that servant whom His Lord finds ready at His return.

Back to work.

1 comment:

beegee said...

Great article! Well said.