I put aside the day’s news with one thought: the end times are always with us. We do not have to wait for their approach—not tomorrow, not next year, not some distant century. They abide with us. We are forever in them. And every morning we awaken one day closer to the solitary Apocalypse that waits for each of us.
It is easy to forget that the peace we are promised is eschatological, not historical. We have no guarantee of salvation in or through history. To pretend otherwise is to soothe our disquiet with magical thinking. News broadcasts are a potent corrective. They turn our eyes toward a blood red moon that rises nightly in defiance of our beseechings and our hopes. It can climb the skies elsewhere—away from you and me—for only so long.
All our prayers for peace in the here and now are futile if we lack faith in the decency of our own side, or surrender the will to assert our own cause. No Virgin of the Rosary, no icon held aloft, will fortify a people too timorous, complacent or polite to act to preserve themselves. If we cannot bring ourselves to believe that our nation—our civilization—deserves a commanding place in this fractured world, we have no business imploring heaven to grant us peace. It will not descend like the dew fall. It has to be won.
At Mass, the boilerplate wording of petitionary prayers lulls us into thinking that if we lift our hands high enough—recite another rosary, another chaplet of mercy—the vaporous invocations of the USCCB will be realized:
For leaders around world, that they might find ways to bring an end to war and violence, and promote peace and development for all nations, we pray to the Lord. . . .
The passivity implicit in those words is indecent. Those airy, unspecified ways are not waiting to be sniffed out like truffles under a hazelwood tree. The feeble high-mindedness of the USCCB’s online sampler of suggested intercessions is a case study in sanctimonious detachment from serious engagement with critical issues on any level but the rhetorical.
• • • •
Looking at the map of wars and violence across the world, we see Islam staining the bulk of it. It is in ascendance after a century of quiescence. Islam Rising is a consequence of our own hesitancies, those self-flagellating guilts and delusions that permit it.
Hilaire Belloc was prescient. In 1938, not long after the formal dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, he predicted the return of Islam. He grasped what others continue to miss: that Islam, with its militant vitality, had never gone away:
It has always seemed to me possible, and even probable, that there would be a resurrection of Islam and that our sons and our grandsons would see the renewal of that tremendous struggle between the Christian culture and what has been for more than a thousand years its greatest opponent.
• • • •
Here on my desk is a prayer from Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Archdiocese of the Military Services, USA. It begins:
Almighty God and Father, look with love upon our men and women in uniform and protect them in their time of need. Give them health and stability and allow them to return to their loved ones whole and unshaken. Be with their families and sustain them in these uncertain times.
The prayer is somehow off key, peaceable and tender to a fault. In their time of need. We could say the same thing about anyone at any time, and in the grip of any of life’s difficulties or sorrows. Health and stability. How does that translate on the battlefield? It is a nebulous pairing that veils the agonies, terrors, and deformations of war. Unshaken. In regard to what?
There is not a word here about victory, about defeating an enemy, or gaining dominion over the forces that threaten soldiers’ lives and ours. The prayer displays no gratitude for the heroic generosity and idealism that prompts young men and women to gamble their lives and the future of their families on the missions assigned to them.
What does it mean to be sustained in uncertain times? Uncertainty bedevils all times. There can be no sustenance without confidence that there exists something worth sustaining, worth the dreaded risk of death or disfigurement. Worth confronting the unspeakable. That fragile and perishable something is not hard to name: our Constitutional freedoms, the concept of human rights, the rule of law. The tragedy of our volunteer military is that their own leaders—and pastors—exhibit uncertainty themselves. They exhibit a kind of morose embarrassment at the reality that Western democracies have to be vigorously and effectively armed against the forces of tyranny.
• • • •
One visiting priest to my local parish still waves the same anti-war banner he carried in the Sixties. His pastoral prayer always includes a plea that there be “no boots on the ground” in Iraq or Afghanistan. Since the petition is offered as a corporate prayer, the early morning congregation is captive to the man’s personal faith in tattered phantoms of dialogue and non-violence against Christianity’s ancient destroyer.
• • • •
Belloc emphasized that Islam remained “intensely alive” on a moral plane even while it was paralyzed politically. He understood the dormancy of Islam as a temporary phenomenon: “We are in the presence of an unstable equilibrium which cannot remain permanently unstable.”
• • • •
Mary Beard’s history of ancient Rome, SPQR, contains a photograph of a remnant of the First Punic War being raised from the bottom of the sea. It is one of the rams used by ancient war ships against enemy vessels. Many were inscribed in much the same way World War II fighter pilots decorated the nose of their planes. Beard cites the inscription on a surviving Carthaginian ram: “We pray to Baal that this ram will go into this enemy ship and make a big hole.”
That, friends, is a prayer for peace.
Originally published at StudioMatters.com
Maureen Mullarkey is a painter who writes on art and culture. Her essays have appeared in various publications, among them: The Nation, Crisis, Commonweal, Hudson Review, Arts, The New Criterion, First Things, The Weekly Standard, and The Magazine Antiques. She was a columnist for The New York Sun. She also keeps the weblog Studio Matters [www.studiomatters.com] She can be reached at [email protected] or via Twitter @mmletters.
Maureen Mullarkey is a painter who writes on art and culture. Her essays have appeared in various publications, among them: The Nation, Crisis, Commonweal, Hudson Review, Arts, The New Criterion, First Things, The Weekly Standard, and The Magazine Antiques. She was a columnist for The New York Sun.
She also keeps the weblog Studio Matters [www.studiomatters.com] She can be reached at [email protected] or via Twitter @mmletters.
Beautifully expressed! This piece reminds me that Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in Mexico and converted an entire pagan civilization – but only after that civilization was conquered by a handful of Catholic Spanish soldiers. The Lord bought our salvation with His blood, sweat, and tears. We can offer nothing less to save our Christian civilization and restore His kingship.
…”off key, peaceable and tender to a fault…” describes more than that one prayer.
Thanks for this piece, Miss Mullarkey and 1P5.
“The End Time is Ever With Us”…yes… and… Our Lady has instructed us, on many occasions, that we must take steps (“pray, fast and do penance”) to delay the final End.
Perhaps the reason for this attitude is our Bishops
no longer believe in the concept of evil and it’s source with the devil. And if
they no longer believe in evil, probably they no longer believe in good and it’s
source, God. Our’s is an age of lost faith in God which leads to a loss of
self sacrifice and an accommodating and defeatist attitude.
Islam has a twisted faith in a false God, a real
sense of sacrifice and a will to win. We must pray that more folks realize this
especially our Pope and our Bishops. I’m sure God gives them the grace to see
the reality of our situation but they lack the faith and courage to do anything
You fall hook line and sinker for the lie that says that Muslems took down the world trade centre and don’t see that it is the other pillars of evil afflicting your country: Protestantism and Zionism. Your evil government used that lie as a pretext to bomb the bejesus out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria in the name of Freedom. Before that it was Kosovo and Serbia, before that…it is said that the mighty USA has been at peace only 17 years since independence. And you wonder why your country is hated throughout the world. You have allowed Zionism to so infect the world and carry out wars on their behalf. You turn a blind eye to the evil Wahabism sect of your satellite and oh so wealthy Saudi Arabia as she has spread her poison and killing throughout Asia and into Russia. Take the moat out of your own eye. To paraphrase the Bard: There is something rotten in the USA.
Indeed! While Islam is indeed a real threat, Islam was not responsible for the 3 WTC towers coming down and several other false flags. That was solely in the hands of a cabal of Globalists who had much to gain, and are long used to committing such horrific false flags in order to set events in motion to their benefit.
These same men/women are also the ones arming and funding and supplying and training ISIS and the Al Nusra Front and Al Qaeda buddies (You know? Those supposed enemies of U.S.A.?) whose goal is to reorganize the Middle East so that the USA and its cronies Saudi Arabia, Israel, all NATO states, keep OPEC in control, get rid of the usury-free non-globalist controlled local banks, maintain the Federal Reserve Currency, open up pipelines and transit routes to Europe to head off Russian/Chinese silk roads, and maintain a strategic military edge over Russia to prevent the “emergence of a new economic and military rival” in Russia and China. This is what the situation in the Middle East is all about alongside the ‘pivot to Asia.’
Only Russia and Syria are actually fighting terrorists. Otherwise the U.S. would still be happily escorting ISIS oil into Turkey had not the Russians embarrassed them into taking some action, and even then they were nice enough to let the Jihadis know ahead of time so as not to get caught up in the bombing runs.
9/11 was a terrible farce. These men will not hesitate to kill their own innocent citizens and others to start a war to kill more people who had nothing to do with it. Given that Russia and Syria are currently wiping out their little proxy Jihadi-rebel army and more news reports and wikileaks expose these facts, don’t expect these evildoers to just sit back and admit defeat. If they can commit an atrocity, a new convenient Pearl harbor, like 9/11; then they are capable of setting off a nuke in an American city and framing Russia for it. And wouldn’t you know it? There are reports of nukes gone missing back in 2015 during a transfer from South Carolina. Not to mention they could use any number of re-painted ‘Russian’ aircraft used on US bases for training purposes to do so. You think mainstream news is going to bother digging any deeper than they did over claims about the USS Liberty, Gulf of Tonkin, Assad’s gas or Saddam’s WMD? Don’t bet on it.
The majority of Muslims are not militant terrorists, though every time we bomb or shoot up another wedding party we create more of them strictly for revenge with Jihad as an additional bonus. However it is true that a sizable minority of them who are indeed backwards, violent, misogynistic and contemptible. But! But! But! The majority of Muslims, however, do want Shariah law for you, and they’ll be happy enough to get it by immigration, procreation, social intimidation, religious freedom and voting.
And all 3 of those groups are friends of the Globalist criminals who will use any one of them at their convenience. Allies one day and Scapegoats the next. But the terrorist narrative has worn itself out, especially when you are relying on those terrorists to do your dirty work in Syria. Thankfully for us, Russia has decided to stand up to this, though that also gives the globalists a new Emmanuel Goldstein in Vladimir Putin.
Spot on in everything you say.
islam’s military victories (and therefore its advance) ended when technology began to dominate manpower – let’s say C17th. I think islam’s last invention was the scimitar.
Apart from pakistan’s nuclear bombs islam has nothing to counter a committed Western offensive. All it has is manpower which is next to useless these days without technological support. All islamic arms (from saudi to isis) are provided by the West’s MIC.
islam is only a threat because the West is controlled top-down by another supremacist ideology that is using jihad in all its forms to raze post-Christendom. And we are far down that track.
If Westerners woke up and took back control, islam would again be a desert novelty within 2-3 generations.
The Great Monarch will take care of Islam. You are certainly correct about the corrupt western leadership using Islam to further their goals.
” For leaders around world, that they might find ways to bring an end to war and violence, and promote peace and development for all nations, we pray to the Lord. . ”
We pray this knowing full well the ” Leaders around the world” wish for nothing but our destruction, encourage war, and utilize violence to their own ends.
I pray for Americans, Frenchmen, and other Europeans to grow a backbone and take back their countries from the clutches of Muslim jihadists. The placard on my desk is a quote from John Stuart Mill: “War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares about more than his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself”.
“And every morning we awaken one day closer to the solitary Apocalypse that waits for each of us.”
So very true
Beautiful post, and absolutely true. The great enemy of Christianity is Islam, because it is entirely opposed to Christianity in every way but both of them make truth claims. The problem is that Christianity (or the Catholic Church, at any rate) used to make a truth claim and no longer does so. This leaves only one “religion” – put in quotes because it’s actually an Arab superiorty cult clothed in syncretism garments by Mohammad. This was to make his rapaciousness and political domination more palatable to a divided Middle East, which after the fall of Rome, the division of the Church, and the ravages of Arianism and its various daughter heresies, had nothing to defend it. And so darkness dropped down upon them.
Unless we go back to the source, believe that Truth actually exists and God has revealed it to us, first through the Jews and then through Our Lord, Islamic darkness will dominate the West within most of our lifetimes.
So very true. As I listen and pray with the congregation the daily petitions, it makes me queasy. It’s inevitably about praying the “world leaders” will make good decisions so all people have opportunities. I want to scream right there and then WAKE UP PEOPLE!
“Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.” [Patton’s Prayer at Bastogne]
How I long to hear such clarity from our spiritual Fathers.
Excellent points well-made. Thank you to the author for identifying the “vaporous” General Intentions at Mass for what they are. The Church must stop faltering to the insipid meter of freeze-dried milquetoast supplications. Empty words and cowardice disguised as “mercy” are not of Christ. Consecrate Russia now, bishops, and hold the Cross high before the infidel charlatans of Mecca!
The same extollers of God’s favor on the Christian fleet at Lepanto with much surprise fall silent about the Spanish Armada against England soon after…