Our Help Is in the Name of the Lord
Early Christians in the Roman Empire
Last week, I published an article that received immediate reaction from some friends of ours. “The first paragraph said it all.”
The first paragraph of This Is What Will Happen reads:
What I have to say will not sit well with you. It will not sit well because you have already felt it yourself. You hope that feeling is wrong, that you are misinterpreting it.
People are naturally optimistic. In bad times, we believe “this, too, shall pass.” Without such optimism, we would fall into despair. That would be bad for us as people, but mass despair would also demolish our species. Optimism is why we reproduce. We believe can give the world a better breed of humans than our parents did. (In this way, reproduction is an act of humility.)
But now is not the time for optimism. Instead, it’s a time for hope. Understanding the difference between optimism and hope is the key to your survival and mine. Please pay close attention.
Optimism is the belief that things will get better. It is the opposite of pessimism, which believes that things will get worse
Both optimism and pessimism are sins. In theology, we call optimism “presumption” and pessimism “despair.” They are sins against the Holy Ghost, which Christ warned us about in stark terms:
Therefore I say to you: Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but the blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come. (Matthew 12:31-32)
I don’t now about you, but, if I can avoid only one sin, blasphemy of the Holy Ghost is the one to stay away from.
G.K. Chesterton wrote:
The heresies that have attacked human happiness in my time, have all been variations either of presumption or of despair; which, in the controversies of modern culture, are called optimism and pessimism.1
Optimism presumes that “this, too, shall pass.” Or that we creatures will find a way. That we can work our way through the troubles, even if the troubles come straight from the evil one.
Pessimism despairs that nothing can be done. Our fates are sealed. It leads us to say, “We might as well eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow is another day.” Or, “we might as well curl up in the fetal position and wait to die, for the end is near.”
Those are optimism and pessimism. Then, there is hope.
Hope is a theological virtue. It comes from God through the Holy Ghost. We cannot manufacture it ourselves no matter how hard we try. (But do not despair: good news is coming to those who keep reading.) Again, looking to Chesterton for wisdom, we find this:
Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all.2
When we recognize that things will get worse, that the American Experiment ended in failure on November 4, 2020, that Trump will not be triumphantly returned to the White House by the Army and the Supreme Court, that conservative Christians will be banned from holding jobs in most companies, that Caucasians will be denied healthcare, our only response can be hope.
V. Adiutórium nóstrum ☩ in nómine Dómini.
R. Qui fecit cælum et terram.
Hope in God’s judgment and mercy, not that humans will rise up and throw off their oppressors. (They won’t. Comfort and optimism prevents them.)
Our hope is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth, not in a political movement or a politician, or the instant conversion of those who want to impose a new world order with a socialist world government. Those who seek world domination have decided their time is now, Coronavirus is their compelling crisis, the threat of Trump is their justification, and noting on earth is their deterrent. (The billionaires have built vast, luxurious underground fallout shelters, not “in case of” massive nuclear war or an actual, man-made pandemic, but in preparation for it. Forewarned is forearmed.)
Even Jorge Bergoglio (aka, “Pope Francis”) has officially called for a global government with mandatory vaccinations in a letter to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund dated April 4, 2021:
There remains an urgent need for a global plan that can create new or regenerate existing institutions, particularly those of global governance."
Our hope is in God, and God alone. And our hope comes from God alone. Without God, there is no hope.
And how do we pray for this hope? Perhaps we look to the prayers of our Christian ancestors. Our ancestors who spread the Word in the first centuries after Christ. Our ancestors who lived and died under cruel, pagan persecution from Roman emperors determined to smash Christianity like a bug on a chariot windshield.
Remember, that our Church was born in, effectively, one world government, a government of pagans who worshipped gods of nature (“The gods of the gentiles are demons.” Psalm 95:5). And, yet, Christianity prevailed. God prevailed.
As author Mike Aquilina writes in *The Church and the Roman Empire (301-490):
God’s people were regularly defeated, enslaved, oppressed, occupied, and exiled. Yet they told their story honestly, because they held themselves—and their historians—to a higher judgment, higher even than the king or the forces of the market. They looked at history in terms of God’s judgment, blessings, curses, and mercy. This became their principle of selection and interpretation of events. It didn’t matter so much whether the story flattered the king or victorious armies.3
If there’s anything we need right now, it’s an honest assessment of where we are and where this world (of which Satan is the prince) is headed.
Such an honest assessment leads us to despair unless God gives us hope. And He will, if we cooperate.
How do we cooperate? Well, let’s look at how our Christian ancestors of the first four centuries cooperated. Let’s find a prayer designed for people of faith living and dying under a brutal, pagan (demonic) world government that hated them.
There we find a simple prayer of St. Irenaeus of Lyons who lived from 130 to 202 AD.
I appeal to you, Lord, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob and Israel, You the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Infinitely merciful as You are, it is Your will that we should learn to know You. You made heaven and earth, You rule supreme over all that is. You are the true, the only God; there is no other god above You.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ…and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, grant that all who read what I have written here may know You, because You alone are God; let them draw strength from You; keep them from all teaching that is heretical, irreligious or godless. (St Irenaeus of Lyons, 130-202 AD)
God bless. Our hope is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.