Sunday, November 15, 2015

Anti-Christ has a Pleasing Appearance

Our pastor mentioned the coming of the anti-Christ today. It sort of channeled my thinking in a certain direction.

Surely, when he appears, he will satisfy certain of our longings. He will seem to fulfill a long-awaited good. Just like Hitler and Lenin, he will appear to secure for us something we dearly desire, something we value. But these will only be partial goods disguised as the highest goods.
Too handsome to be evil.

I think about Pope Francis, who people love because of what he tells us about loving the poor. That's good, but it's not the highest good. That's the good that Lenin promised. But when it comes from the pope, what more could you want? He unifies the religious and the secular sense of right, and that's what makes him both so welcome and yet so dangerous.

Turn your thoughts now to Soloviev's "A Short Tale of the Anti-Christ." The Anti-Christ of his tale promised everything, but just not one thing: the name of Christ. A small price to pay for comfort, meaning, and sustenance, just a name, the name of Christ. There were a few people who could see through this - but not many - not enough so as to overturn his triumph.

When hospitals, military chaplains, schools and soup kitchens can do everything we need them to in order to fulfill the love of neighbour, and only ask that we set aside the name of Christ so as not to alienate anyone, that is, they say, a very small price to pay for doing all this good.

Just think how much we will gain if we just give up that little, niggling detail about being in a state of grace - what a pharisaical category anyway! Sure, Christ said all He did about adultery, but look at all the good we can do if we just bend the rule a little in the name of mercy.

As in the military, chaplains can comfort so many with the love of Christ, just as long as they don't use the name of Christ.

As in schools, teachers can influence young people in Christ, just as long as they don't overtly mention Him.

As in hospitals.

Why people love Pope Francis is not why he should be loved. He should be loved as Christ's ambassador, not as the ambassador of an easy-universalism that ridicules nit-pickers about the state of grace as though they were Pharisees.

Christ brings a division, and 50% of us don't want it. Anyone that popular is not Christ, but Anti-Christ. He promises more than is possible in the world. Seventeen years before the Communist Revolution in Russia, Soloviev knew someone like Lenin was coming. In his story, the cardinals jumped on board too.

What's in a name?

As Napoleon said, if you would be a success in the world, promise everything, deliver nothing. So did Lenin. There are those would promise a Church, a world, full of love and mercy, but all this path will lead to is indifference, confusion and less glory for Christ. When you stand for nothing, nothing clear, nothing decisive, nothing divisive, no one will hate you, and if that's what you call success, then have at it.

Forty years ago the Canadian bishops promised everything: you can have Christ and you can have carefree sex. Today, no one cares about the Church because Christ could be had with no sacrifice, like an old rug being given away at the side of the road. Therefore, Christ is meaningless, just like a cup of water is during a monsoon. Those bishops thought that easy grace would make people loyal to the Church. The opposite happened. Now Rome wants to buy loyalty with a bribe of that order. But isn't it evident that the people who chose adulterous marriages over the Church will not come back because you are now telling them what they want to hear. Do you really want people who put the Church last, anyway? What kind of Catholics do the German bishops think they will get with this?

Did bread and circuses buy the loyalty of the poor of Rome? And, if so, how did that pan out against the Vandals?

When he appears, he will look a little like St. Francis, a little like Morgan Freeman, a little like John Kennedy. He will look like everything we want him to, unfortunately for us.

Pope Francis is welcomed by us because he looks like St Francis: he rides in the subway and has a smaller bedroom. And for that we are willing to give up Christ's teaching on marriage. That's awfully generous of us.

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