SATURDAY OF THE SECOND WEEK OF EASTER
A couple weeks ago while praying the psalms in the Liturgy of the Hours, I don’t know what I read that made me think of Charles Dickens’s famous first lines of A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens described the turbulent times in London and Paris at the time of the French Revolution. Those words seem to be most applicable to our own times. I’ll read you the quote and then tell you why, although I think you can easily guess.
The quote: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
In our first reading we see a vignette of how good things and bad things coexist. One group of Christians were dutifully feeding and caring for their own widows while forgetting the widows of another group. To their credit, some of the disciples spoke up and both groups together came up with the solution which we now know as the diaconates.
So many of the best things are happening in our time right along with some of the worst things. A President who has been rightly vilified in so many ways and wrongfully vilified in so many others is the most pro-life president in history. The depth of scandal in the clergy of the church has reached another historic low. The height of holiness in the laity is reaching another historic high. The most horrendous laws permitting abortion are being passed in some states while in the midst of all that, the most hopeful pro-life laws are being passed in others. The startling gut wrenching expose of the abortion industry in the movie “”Unplanned” continues its success in the midst of the despicable efforts of the media to censor its success.
I forget where I read, however, that podcast pro-life news is getting more views than Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper, CNN and Hannity combined!
Alabama House has voted to criminalize nearly all abortions in defiance of Roe v. Wade. Internationally, there is a conscious rejection of libertine sexual values by a several Eastern European countries as a response to the so-called sexual liberty in the West. This so-called liberty has ravaged families, spawned a rarely-reported epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, and gutted the institution of marriage. They have seen the fruits of the sexual revolution and have begun a revolution of rejection of these fruits.
Russia has decided to block the smut monopolies PornHub and YouPorn, the world’s largest providers of free pornography while a noted Catholic University can’t seem to make up its mind what to do on this issue.
Hungary is a nation to watch. It has refused to join the European Union and is welcoming an enormous number of economic migrants. It is working to rejuvenate its flagging birthrates by implementing a raft of state policies aimed at incentivizing and strengthening the family. Since 2010, Hungary has seen marriage rates skyrocket by 43%, with divorce rates plunging 22%. Children are more welcome. The abortion rate has dropped by 33%. In the works are laws taking effect on July 1 including a mortgage reduction for those who have a second child and a much larger reduction for a third child. In 2020, Hungarian mothers of more than four children will receive a lifetime personal tax exemption.
They are clearing a path through the rubble left by socialism and communism while the West seems to be falling once again for socialism.
In his book, Charles Dickens, describes not only the playing out of these contrasts in the governments involved, the cultures involved, but also in the personal lives of those involved. In the midst of “the times” he shows that it is in personal lives that virtue has triumphed. It is therefore well to remember that no matter what is going on outside of our own lives, we can first of all maintain within ourselves, with the help of God’s grace, his victory over death proclaimed in his resurrection. It is also well to remember that it is your personal involvement in the pro-life issues of today that is bringing an end to the worst of times and ushering in the best of times when the voiceless unborn are once again being protected.
And this seems to be in line with some of my recent reading. If I understand correctly what I have read, historically in the ages during which the church most needed deep purification and renewal, it was on the level of the laity much more so than the institutional church where renewal reached its highest level.
Our church actually began in a time frame that could be described as the “best of times” and the “worst of times.” The worst evil ever perpetrated by man against our God and most loving Savior Jesus Christ, was used by Jesus our Savior for the greatest good ever bestowed upon mankind, our salvation.
And what you are doing today is carrying on that seminal tradition. Charles Dickens leads us into his novel with his classic contrasts which, it should be noted, start out placing the good first. I don’t think this was accidental. And it is well for us to remember the good the Lord has done for us lest evil besmirch the image of the empty tomb and Christ’s triumph over the “worst of times.” St. Paul said, “For those who love God, all things work out for the good.”
In this season of Easter resurrection, therefore, let us pray to be freed from anything that clouds our vision of the triumph of Christ over this present worst of all evils, the slaughter of the unborn.
Rev. Fr. H. James Hutchins