July 13th, 2012It’s Hardly Prophecy Any Moreby Kevin O'Brien | http://www.thewordinc.org

Not long ago James V. Schall SJ wrote a piece that began, "Catholics have little legal future in this country except as a narrow, strictly defined sect."  He went on to suggest that there would come a time in the U.S.A. where we will have an officially tolerated faux-church, and an actual, but underground and persecuted, church-of-the-catacombs, as in China. 

I said at the time, "The true Church will be persecuted and shuttered because of 'hate speech' - which means pointing out the sins of sodomy, fornication, contraception, abortion, the abuse of children, the abuse of the poor, de facto slavery to the state and to corporations, and all the things we're not only tolerating but celebrating in our culture today. The 'official church', the false church, will join in celebrating all these horrors and will make it all go down smoothly by offering services with gay guitar music and self-esteem workshops over coffee and donuts."

Today, in a stunning bit of writing that takes your breath away, Fr. George Rutler brings the prophecy closer to home, as he notes, "The national election in November, 2012 will either give Christians one last chance to rally, or it will be the last free election in our nation.  This can only sound like hyperbole to those who are unaware of what happened to the Slavic lands after World War I and to Western Europe in the 1930’s."

Mere rhetorical panic?  No, for Fr. Rutler explains himself ...

Unless there is a dramatic reversal in the present course of our nation, those who measured their Catholicism by the Catholic schools they attended, will soon find most of those institutions officially pinching incense to the ephemeral genius of their secular leaders, and universities once called Catholic will be no more Catholic than Brown is Baptist or Princeton is Presbyterian. The surrender will not come by a sudden loss of faith in Transubstantiation or doubts about Papal Infallibility. It will happen smoothly and quietly, as the raptures of the Netherworld always hum victims into somnolence, by the cost factor of buying out of government health insurance.

And this will produce, Fr. Rutler predicts, a shake out - or, in his words, "the majority of Catholics with tenuous commitments to the Faith will evaporate, as did the lapsed baptized in North Africa during the oppression of the emperor Diocletian."

He also hits two other home runs in this article - he brings the spirit of St. Paul to bear on the issue, and he deconstructs a phrase that has long irked me, "Post-Christian".

This new period is not “Post-Christian” because nothing comes after Christ.   We can, however, call it “Post-Comfortable Christian.”

Not all bad, you know, for Comfort has not been good for us.


Let us thank God for the prophets among us, like Fr. Schall and Fr. Rutler, who are preparing us for this era of Post-Comfortable Christianity - even though it's less prophecy than mere description.

Indeed, when Isaiah pointed out famously, "Behold a virgin shall conceive", his point at the time was not the coming Messiah; his point at the time was, "Before this kid, conceived now, is old enough to know right from wrong, all hell will break loose and we'll be in an era of Post-Comfortable Judaism, to say the least."

In other words, it's right around the corner.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

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  • July 13 2012 | by Kevin O'Brien

    My son Colin writes ...


    Very interesting article.

    I think the basic mistake being made here, though, is confusion towards what the HHS mandate really is. This article interprets the mandate has an offensive attack against Catholicism, which it may be in effect but it does not seem to be in purpose. I don't think the president or the congressmen behind this intend to see Catholic institutions shut down and the church destroyed in America, I think their motives are much more selfish than that.

    This portion of the health care bill just seems like pandering to their voting bases and now that it's a front and center issue they can't back down without looking like fools.There isn't a plan in place to slowly start feeding Catholics to lions. I don't think many of the people behind this bill are capable of fighting for anything, good or bad, which might be bigger than the next election cycle. This mandate doesn't really look like the first shot in a war against Catholicism, it looks like pretty standard politics. Politicians who are under educated in law and religion and over educated in their party's talking points.

    I think there is a little bit of paranoia in the devoted Catholic circles in this country. People are hearing fireworks outside and instead of thinking "Oh, fireworks" they're thinking "this must be a team of Navy Seals around my house just waiting for me to unlock my door."

    Also, this election doesn't have very much importance in the HHS realm or in the will-freedom-for-Catholics-still-exist-in-2016 realm. Best case scenario you get a flip flopping Mormon who essentially wrote most of Obama's health care bill and has hardly been committed to a single party, let alone life issues. "Worst" case scenario you get Obama who will be a lame duck by the time I graduate college (2014) and has already clearly exhibited he's not capable of the Tyranny republicans thought he would be, or the change making the democrats thought he would be. The best bet for the HHS mandate to be struck down is the courts.

    And I guess those are my two cents. Short version: Life will go on.


    I will add that my friend Tom Leith, local Chestertonian and regular reader of this blog, has observed ...

    1. The administration fears that if they make concessions on contraception, they'll be folding on everything, as everyone will demand various concessions.

    2. Universal health care is not a Federal matter, if subsidiarity is to be taken into account. A random group of 10,000 people have health risks equal to the population as a whole. Thus, each individual diocese or city or county could provide health insurance, and this never would have become a Federal issue.
  • July 14 2012 | by Joseph Pearce

    Kevin, It seems that you and I have taken radically different positions with regard to this article. That's one of things I like about this site: the engagement of like-minded Catholics about the issues of the day. We do not always have to agree. All that is needed is Chestertonian charity in the midst of rigorous debate. As Chesterton said of his relationship with his brother, they were always arguing but never quarrelled. Let's not let a quarrel get in the way of a good argument!
  • July 15 2012 | by Peter Gallaher

    Many years ago, when turning on, tuning in and dropping out was all the rage, when free speech was championed on campuses, and free love in public parks; when Kumbaya was enjoying top ten status as a Communion hymn and rainbows and clowns decorated priestly vestments, churchs rang with applause and home baked bread was all the rage at the "Supper of the Lord" Father Eugene O'Sullivan (R.I.P.) spoke to me outside of Visitation Church in The Bronx, NY.

    "The time is coming, Peter," he said with the grim smile of someone who know a battle is brewing, "when the church will be a mere remnant and this country will be mission territory." Then he reached down and tousled the hair of my little girl whom he had baptized. She looked up at him and smiled her own innocence.

    Twenty or so years later another priest held up her daughter, my first grandchild, after he had christened her; held her above his head in a dramatic gesture. "What I have just done," he said to us all, "could well be a death sentence for her."

    The other night I thought of these two incidents as I watched some You Tube videos of the recent Japanese Tsunami.

    "Yeah, " I said to myself, remembering the old song, " house built on a rock foundation..."

    Then I prayed, and tried not to be too "ascared".