Whether folks were directly affected by the great tragedies of year 2017 or not, this year was unsettling. It is as if the whole world is addled by new anxieties, uncertainties, fears about the future, which continue to accelerate. Whether we know and understand all the etiologies of this phenomena or not, we might at least pause to survey and consider where we are and where we are going.
From a spiritual vantage, there was the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions, the miraculous appearances of Our Lady in Portugal. We may have expected a bit more from this, perhaps even a sort of a symmetry of completion of those warnings as well as the purpose behind the Virgin’s messages. To the disappointment of some, that did not occur.
What remains is that many people seem to be suffering, losing sight of spiritual realities, occluded by the effects of sin, falling deeper into the pit. Catholicism isn’t exactly dying the way the Protestantism is, but the Church isn’t exactly at the peak of health either.
Intersecting the spiritual were the celestial occurrences: the total solar eclipse that crossed the North American continent; the succession of “blood moons” that punctuated the lunar calendar; the uptick of asteroids and solar flares. Even — I don’t know if I was the only one who noticed it — what seemed to be an increase of news items about UFOs and the like.
Then there was the natural. We heard about a quickening of the melting of polar ice. An enormous ice shelf broke off of Antarctica, the ultimate effects of which are not known. Coral reefs are declining, the reasons are far from fully understood. Honey bees and pollinators appear threatened. There were more earthquakes and hurricanes and other strange weather patterns than before.
Culturally, the West is in decline. Even the empty promises of the Enlightenment and all the strife driven by class warfare have been laid bare with catastrophic effect. No more is art meant to be edifying. No more is virtue part of the social fabric.
People are not merely titillated by sin — especially sex and violence — they are immersed in it and fascinated by it. Many are no longer frightened by Satan and the occult, rather, they are near-autonomic moths to these flames of destruction.
Geopolitics are the obverse side of the cultural coin. As the West no longer stands for much besides its own libertinism, it defends Western “values” not because they are good, but because of the gaping chasm beyond which there are other ideologies the West does not share and cannot integrate properly. That is, even as it gasps for breath the West does not want to be something else, never mind why not.
All of this sounds terribly unhopeful, such that there is little promise for anyone to survive the upcoming year, much less to grow and flourish. But I hope you haven’t come to this point with me expecting that I might conclude that surrender is the only option…
As the prophet Isaiah says, those who were in darkness have seen a great light, and it is this wonderful light that shines on the path and guides us to Him. To be faithful in this moment is to resolve to “double down” on our reliance in the promise that has been given — that the weight of a sinful condition does not triumph in the end, that redemption is possible, that we are indeed free to experience great joy and peace which surpasses all understanding.
To know Jesus Christ is to be serene in a tumultuous world, and to be moved to share ourselves with others in the same way that Jesus shares Himself with us, so that all the world might have and know His love.
So, above all your other worthy resolutions, I encourage you to resolve to cultivate your relationship with Jesus this year. Join Him on the altar at Mass. Seek Him out behind the screen in the Sacrament of Penance. Invite Him into your home and the hearts of your family at prayer time. Visit His Mother along the rosary.
Please keep me in your prayers, and I will keep you in mine. And may you have a blessed New Year.