WHAT is truth? That was the question Pontius Pilate posed after Jesus said to him:
For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice. (John 18:37)
Pilate’s question is the turning point, the hinge on which the door to Christ’s final passion was to be opened. Until that point, Pilate resisted handing Jesus over to death. But after Jesus identified Himself as the source of truth, Pilate caves into the pressure—to the alternate "truths" about the Lord—and decides to leave Christ’s fate to the people. Pilate washed his hands of Truth itself.
If the body of Christ is to follow its Head in its own passion, what the Catechism calls "a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers" (CCC 675), then we too will see a time when our persecutors will ask "What is truth?" When the world will also wash its hands of the "sacrament of truth," the Church itself.
Tell me brothers and sisters, has this not already begun to be the case in our day?
TRUTH… UP FOR GRABS
The past four hundred years has seen the development of humanist philosophical structures and satanic ideologies that have laid a foundation for a new world without God (see Living the Book of Revelation). If the Church has laid the foundations of truth, then the dragon’s aim has been a long process of laying a foundation of "anti-truth." This is precisely the danger pointed out by the modern popes, that a human society not firmly rooted in truth risks becoming inhuman:
… ideological rejection of God and an atheism of indifference, oblivious to the Creator and at risk of becoming equally oblivious to human values, constitute some of the chief obstacles to development today. A humanism which excludes God is an inhuman humanism. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, n. 78
This is no doubt the result of a massive "confusion" in our times:
This struggle parallels the apocalyptic combat described in [Rev 11:19-12:1-6, 10 on the battle between" the woman clothed with the sun" and the "dragon"]. Death battles against Life: a “culture of death” seeks to impose itself on our desire to live, and live to the full… Vast sectors of society are confused about what is right and what is wrong, and are at the mercy of those with the power to "create" opinion and impose it on others. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Cherry Creek State Park Homily, Denver, Colorado, 1993
The sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin. —POPE PIUS XII, Radio Address to the United States Catechetical Congress held in Boston; 26 Oct., 1946: AAS Discorsi e Radiomessaggi, VIII (1946), 288
This loss of the sense of sin has further cultivated a moral relativism that, while appearing to "free" a soul, actually leads to an internal, if not external, slavery to sin. This in turn can leave a soul incapable of hearing of the voice of the Shepherd, leading one to despair.
There is also something sinister which stems from the fact that freedom and tolerance are so often separated from truth. This is fuelled by the notion, widely held today, that there are no absolute truths to guide our lives. Relativism, by indiscriminately giving value to practically everything, has made “experience” all-important. Yet, experiences, detached from any consideration of what is good or true, can lead, not to genuine freedom, but to moral or intellectual confusion, to a lowering of standards, to a loss of self-respect, and even to despair. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, opening address at World Youth Day, 2008, Sydney, Australia
Ultimately, moral relativism leads to a rejection of anyone or any institution that would impose moral absolutes. That is, it leads to a "dictatorship of relativism" as Benedict XVI put it—a dictatorship that will likely dictate the terms on which the Church can or cannot exist.
REACHING CRITICAL MASS
Yet, it is hidden from many eyes. Others refuse to see it. And still others simply deny it: the Church is entering a universal phase of persecution. It is being propelled in part by a Deluge of False Prophets who are casting doubt not only on the Catholic faith, but in the very existence of God. In his new book, The Godless Delusion-A Catholic Challenge to Modern Atheism, Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid and co-author Kenneth Hensley point out the real danger facing our generation as it pursues a path without the light of truth:
…the West has, for some time now, been sliding steadily down the escarpment of the Culture of Doubt toward the precipice of atheism, beyond which lies only the abyss of godlessness and all the horrors contained within it. Just consider notable modern mass-murdering atheists such as Stalin, Mao, Planned Parenthood, and Pol Pot (and some heavily influenced by atheism, such as Hitler). Worse yet, there are fewer and fewer "speed bumps" in our culture formidable enough to slow this descent into darkness. —The Godless Delusion-A Catholic Challenge to Modern Atheism, p. 14
Perhaps Cardinal Ratzinger hinted at what the very last "speed bump" would be before the wholesale acceptance of a godless culture—or at least, a wholesale enforcement of one:
Abraham, the father of faith, is by his faith the rock that holds back chaos, the onrushing primordial flood of destruction, and thus sustains creation. Simon, the first to confess Jesus as the Christ… now becomes by virtue of his Abrahamic faith, which is renewed in Christ, the rock that stands against the impure tide of unbelief and its destruction of man. —Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, (POPE BENEDICT XVI), Called to Communion, Understanding the Church Today, Adrian Walker, Tr., p. 55-56
It wasn’t until Jesus, the Good Shepherd, was struck, that the sheep were scattered and the passion of Our Lord began. It was Jesus who told Judas to go do what he must, resulting in the Lord’s arrest. So too, the Holy Father will likely draw a final line in the sand that will ultimately result in the terrestrial shepherd of the Church being struck, and the persecution of the faithful taken to the next level.
I saw one of my successors taking to flight over the bodies of his brethren. He will take refuge in disguise somewhere; after a short retirement [exile] he will die a cruel death. The present wickedness of the world is only the beginning of the sorrows which must take place before the end of the world. —POPE PIUS X, Catholic Prophecy, p. 22
In a talk given by Fr. Joseph Esper, he outlines the stages of persecution:
Experts agree that five stages of a coming persecution can be identified:
- The targeted group is stigmatized; its reputation is attacked, possibly by mocking it and rejecting its values.
- Then the group is marginalized, or pushed out of the mainstream of society, with deliberate efforts to limit and undo its influence.
- The third stage is to vilify the group, viciously attacking it and blaming it for many of society’s problems.
- Next, the group is criminalized, with increasing restrictions placed on its activities and eventually even its existence.
- The final stage is one of outright persecution.
Many commentators believe the United States is now in stage three, and moving into stage four. —www.stedwardonthelake.com
In our current state of affairs, an outright persecution of the Church is unlikely. But a collapse of the global economy, a war in the East coupled perhaps with a pandemic, food shortage, or some other crisis, would be enough to throw much of the Western World into a revolution that would profoundly affect every nation on the globe. Interesting it is that after Pontius Pilate posed that infamous question, the people chose not to embrace the Truth that would set them free, but a revolutionary:
They cried out again, "Not this one but Barabbas!" Now Barabbas was a revolutionary. (John 18:40)
The warning from the Holy Fathers is absolutely clear. Unless we embrace Jesus Christ, the author of creation and redeemer of mankind who came to "testify to the truth", we risk falling into a godless revolution that will result not only in the Passion of the Church, but in the vast destruction of the planet by a godless "global force":
…without the guidance of charity in truth, this global force could cause unprecedented damage and create new divisions within the human family… humanity runs new risks of enslavement and manipulation… —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, n.33, 26
If this all sounds too incredible, too much of an exaggeration, we need only turn on the news and watch what is unfolding daily. That, and above all, turn to the voice of the Good Shepherd who continues to speak through his vicars on earth:
We must be prepared to undergo great trials in the not-too-distant future; trials that will require us to be ready to give up even our lives, and a total gift of self to Christ and for Christ. Through your prayers and mine, it is possible to alleviate this tribulation, but it is no longer possible to avert it, because it is only in this way that the Church can be effectively renewed. How many times, indeed, has the renewal of the Church been effected in blood? This time, again, it will not be otherwise. We must be strong, we must prepare ourselves, we must entrust ourselves to Christ and to His Mother, and we must be attentive, very attentive, to the prayer of the Rosary. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, interview with Catholics at Fulda, Germany, Nov. 1980; www.ewtn.com
Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test. (Luke 22:46)
Can an atheist be "good"? The Good Atheist
Atheism and science: A Painful Irony
Atheists attempt to prove God’s existence: Measuring God
God in creation: In All of Creation