Foxtail in my pasture
I received an email from a distraught reader over an article that appeared recently in Teen Vogue magazine titled: “Anal Sex: What You Need to Know”. The article went on to encourage young people to explore sodomy as if it were as physically harmless and morally benign as clipping one’s toenails. As I pondered that article—and the thousands of headlines I’ve read over the past decade or so since this writing apostolate began, articles which essentially narrate the collapse of Western civilization—a parable came to mind. The parable of my pastures…
THE FOX TALE
When we moved to our little farm here on the plains of Western Canada some nine years ago, I thought we had some lovely pastures for a few cows. But when summer came, I realized how wrong I was. Foxtail was growing everywhere.
It’s a weed that starts out appearing like grass, but in July, it forms a head that looks a bit like wheat. However, the problem with Foxtail is that the head forms barbs like a fish hook. When you rub your fingers down the side of the head, it feels smooth, but in the opposite direction, those barbs are sharp. If Foxtail gets into your animals feed, and they eat it, those heads can get stuck in their throats and cause infections, which can lead to death.
So, every year, I have been doing everything I can to get rid of this weed, short of using harmful chemicals. As one soil agronomist told me, “Foxtail is a sign that your soil is in poor condition. It’s the last weed to grow before nothing will grow.” But every natural means I’ve used has done nothing to stop the proliferation of this weed throughout our entire farm. This Fall, I’m going to have to take drastic measures.
The world today is like my pastures. For millennia, there has been a general consensus on what is morally right and what is wrong across nearly all cultures. It’s what we call the “natural moral law.” But in the past four centuries since the onset of the “Enlightenment” period, weeds were being sown among the wheat, so to speak: little lies that said man alone, without God, is the one to determine his own destiny. These weeds have manifested in a multitude of “isms” put forth by deceived men: deism, rationalism, scientism, Marxism, socialism, communism, radical feminism, atheism, moral relativism, individualism, and so forth. Just as the weeds in my pasture are out of control, so too, humanity has entered into The Hour of Lawlessness.
Now, those weeds are coming to a head. And we are shocked. Suddenly, the entire “field of the world” looks different. In my pastures, in just a matter of days, they have turned into a literal sea of white Foxtail heads waving in the wind. By all appearances, one would think that I had sown Foxtail, not pasture grass there! So too, the world appears as if sin and aberration are the new norm. Everywhere we look, we see politicians and lobby groups waving in the winds of moral relativism, telling us that those things which only a generation ago were considered immoral, harmful, and contrary to the natural law are now a “good.” cf. Dream of the Lawless One Like Foxtail, these lies are smooth down the one side, but barbed down the other. If swallowed by our youth today as a good (and they are), the future will most certainly be at grave risk.
THE COLLAPSE IN REAL TIME
In a speech that Pope Benedict gave seven years ago, which compared our times to the collapse of the Roman Empire, he spoke of a seeming “experience of [God’s] apparent absence”—as if the weeds have overtaken the wheat…
The disintegration of the key principles of law and of the fundamental moral attitudes underpinning them burst open the dams which until that time had protected peaceful coexistence among peoples. The sun was setting over an entire world. Frequent natural disasters further increased this sense of insecurity. There was no power in sight that could put a stop to this decline. All the more insistent, then, was the invocation of the power of God: the plea that he might come and protect his people from all these threats. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, December 20th, 2010
Indeed, as my reader cried out to me in his letter: “We have to bubble wrap our children/grandchildren to protect them! When is Jesus going to break Satan’s stronghold? Bring on the Warning LORD!” cf. The Eye of the Storm
For all its new hopes and possibilities, our world is at the same time troubled by the sense that moral consensus is collapsing, consensus without which juridical and political structures cannot function… In reality, this makes reason blind to what is essential. To resist this eclipse of reason and to preserve its capacity for seeing the essential, for seeing God and man, for seeing what is good and what is true, is the common interest that must unite all people of good will. The very future of the world is at stake —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, December 20th, 2010
There is a great uneasiness at this time in the world and in the Church, and that which is in question is the faith. It so happens now that I repeat to myself the obscure phrase of Jesus in the Gospel of St. Luke: ‘When the Son of Man returns, will He still find faith on the earth?’…I sometimes read the Gospel passage of the end times and I attest that, at this time, some signs of this end are emerging. —POPE PAUL VI, The Secret Paul VI, Jean Guitton, p. 152-153, Reference (7), p. ix.
THE WEEDS AT THE END OF THE AGE
But what “end” is emerging? According to the popes, it is not the end of the world, but the end of the age. see The Popes, and the Dawning Era
After purification through trial and suffering, the dawn of a new era is about to break. —POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II, General Audience, September 10, 2003
As I outlined in The Popes, and the Dawning Era, many of the pontiffs have prophesied a coming “pacification” of the nations, a “new beginning”, a “new dawn”; a time when there will be “restored authority”, the “splendours of peace” and a “new civilization” where “in every city and village the law of the Lord is faithfully observed.” They say that “weapons will be dismantled”, “undue social inequalities will be overcome,” and “in individuals, Christ must destroy the night of mortal sin with the dawn of grace regained.” Or, summarized in St. John Paul II’s words, God will “re-establish the original harmony of creation.” All of this will be accomplished through what the popes have been praying for: “a New Pentecost.”
The end-time in which we live is the age of the outpouring of the Spirit. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2819
…the Spirit of Pentecost will flood the earth with his power… People will believe and will create a new world… The face of the earth will be renewed because something like this has not happened since the Word became flesh. —Jesus in the approved messages to Elizabeth Kindelmann, The Flame of Love, p. 61
St. Paul likewise spoke of the Father’s plan “that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” cf. Eph 2:7
But first, the weeds must be separated from the wheat.
The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well….His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matt 13:24-30)
Jesus later explained to His Apostles that the one who sowed the weeds was Satan, “the father of lies.” cf. John 8:44
…the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age…
And so it is. The weeds are coming to a head all over the world. But far from trumpeting a victory for Satan, it is actually signalling the demise of his satanic kingdom. When? We don’t know. But when it comes, the purification will be “drastic.” That is why God has been using all means He can to heal the health of the “soil” in this “time of mercy,” but all appearances suggest that a Cosmic Surgery will be necessary, and that this time of mercy may also be coming to a head. As Paul VI said, the “signs of the times” are all around us. The weeds are heading out as evil no longer hides itself, and thus, the harvest is nearing.
The world at the approach of a new millennium, for which the whole Church is preparing, is like a field ready for the harvest. —ST. POPE JOHN PAUL II, World Youth Day, homily, August 15th, 1993
Indeed, recall the words of my agronomist: “Foxtail is the last weed to grow before nothing will grow.” If the “field is the world,” as Jesus said, then we are seeing the death and corruption of our soil, spiritually and physically. “Foxtail” is everywhere, and if God does not intervene, nothing good will be able to grow.
…when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand… Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. (Luke 21:28; Matt 13:43)
Our response in all of this cannot be passive—we are not bystanders but participants in the work of redemption.
We cannot calmly accept the rest of humanity falling back again into paganism. —Cardinal Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI), The New Evangelization, Building the Civilization of Love; Address to Catechists and Religion Teachers, December 12, 2000
We are God’s wheat, destined for God’s barn, that is, His Kingdom. But while it is only “at the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness,” CCC, n. 1060 the Catechism also teaches that:
The Church “is the Reign of Christ already present in mystery.” —CCC, n. 763
The Catholic Church, which is the kingdom of Christ on earth, [is] destined to be spread among all men and all nations… —POPE PIUS XI, Quas Primas, Encyclical, n. 12, Dec. 11th, 1925; cf. Matt 24:14
So, when any farmer gathers his wheat into his barns, it is often so that those seeds can be spread and be multiplied once again in a “new springtime.” So too, according to the popes, Our Lady, and the approved mystics of this past century, God is gathering a remnant who will “re-seed” the earth with righteousness. That is, they will live “in the Divine Will,” which is the “restoration of all things in Christ” and the reestablishment of “the original harmony of creation.”
Is the threat the last word? No! There is a promise, and this is the last, the essential word… “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who lives in me and I in him will produce abundantly” (Jn 15: 5) …God does not fail. In the end he wins, love wins. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Homily, Synod of Bishops, October 2nd, 2005, Rome
Yes, a miracle was promised at Fatima, the greatest miracle in the history of the world, second only to the Resurrection. And that miracle will be an era of peace which has never really been granted before to the world. —Cardinal Mario Luigi Ciappi, papal theologian for Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II, October 9th, 1994; Family Catechism, (Sept. 9th, 1993); page 35
And so raise your heads high, brothers and sisters. Let the “head of wheat” soar above the weeds such that the truth can cut through the winds of relativism and the voice of the Creator be heard… for those who will listen in this time of mercy. You are His prophets. You are His voice. You are the light for which the darkness awaits. cf. Hope is Dawning Do not be afraid. The Lord of the harvest is coming. And He says, simply, “Be faithful.”
Because you have kept my message of endurance, I will keep you safe in the time of trial that is going to come to the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am coming quickly. Hold fast to what you have, so that no one may take your crown. (Rev 3:10-11)
I AM… This is my name forever; this my title for all generations. (Today’s first Mass reading)
Be open to Christ, welcome the Spirit, so that a new Pentecost may take place in every community! A new humanity, a joyful one, will arise from your midst; you will experience again the saving power of the Lord. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, in Latin America, 1992
What If…? (there is no “new dawn” or “era of peace”)
You are loved.
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