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Catholics Rising: Why Catholicism cannot be stopped
Perhaps it is time to state the obvious. The Catholic Faith, and the Church that announces and nourishes this Faith throughout history, cannot be stopped. This is a matter of Divine guarantee. Speaking of the Church built on Peter the rock, Our Lord promised: “The powers of death shall not prevail against it” (or “the gates of hell” in some older translations) (Mt 16:18). He also commissioned the apostles and their descendants in these words:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age. [Mt 28:19-20]
But when you consider that Our Lord also promised us a share of His cross, there is a very human side to these promises: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you…. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (Jn 15:18,20).
This mixture of trials with the presence of the Lord—this combination of suffering and grace—forges a uniquely Christian disposition in the face of the apparently overwhelming power of the world. I have never seen this expressed better than by G. K. Chesterton in The Ballad of the White Horse. This epic poem recounts the Christian King Alfred’s struggle against the pagan Danes in the late ninth century.
Not for the first time, I will quote a portion of it here. In the Danish camp, a great Earl has just finished a song of power and despair in which he scorns the weakness of the followers of Christ. Alfred, disguised as a minstrel in the camp, rises to reply:
“Sirs, I am but a nameless man,
A rhymester without home,
Yet since I come of the Wessex clay
And carry the cross of Rome,
“I will even answer the mighty earl
That asked of Wessex men
Why they be meek and monkish folk,
And bow to the White Lord's broken yoke;
What sign have we save blood and smoke?
Here is my answer then.
“That on you is fallen the shadow,
And not upon the Name;
That though we scatter and though we fly,
And you hang over us like the sky,
You are more tired of victory,
Than we are tired of shame.
“That though you hunt the Christian man
Like a hare on the hill-side,
The hare has still more heart to run
Than you have heart to ride.
“That though all lances split on you,
All swords be heaved in vain,
We have more lust again to lose
Than you to win again.
“Your lord sits high in the saddle,
A broken-hearted king,
But our king Alfred, lost from fame,
Fallen among foes or bonds of shame,
In I know not what mean trade or name,
Has still some song to sing;
“Our monks go robed in rain and snow,
But the heart of flame therein,
But you go clothed in feasts and flames,
When all is ice within;
“Nor shall all iron dooms make dumb
Men wondering ceaselessly,
If it be not better to fast for joy
Than feast for misery.
“Nor monkish order only
Slides down, as field to fen,
All things achieved and chosen pass,
As the White Horse fades in the grass,
No work of Christian men.
“Ere the sad gods that made your gods
Saw their sad sunrise pass,
The White Horse of the White Horse Vale,
That you have left to darken and fail,
Was cut out of the grass.
“Therefore your end is on you,
Is on you and your kings,
Not for a fire in Ely fen,
Not that your gods are nine or ten,
But because it is only Christian men
Guard even heathen things.
“For our God hath blessed creation,
Calling it good. I know
What spirit with whom you blindly band
Hath blessed destruction with his hand;
Yet by God's death the stars shall stand
And the small apples grow.”
And the King, with harp on shoulder,
Stood up and ceased his song;
And the owls moaned from the mighty trees,
And the Danes laughed loud and long.
Looked at from the human side, from this splendid Faith incarnated in men and woman around the world, these lines explain why Catholicism simply cannot be stopped. It is this reality, at once human and Divine, which inspired the expression “Catholics Rising”. It captures the spirit of CatholicCulture.org, of all our readers and supporters, especially as we enter upon our Spring Campaign.
Obstacles and Opportunities
For the past four years, we have had a few special donors provide a Challenge Grant for our Spring Campaign. We lost that this year, and it forced me to think more deeply about our whole approach to funding our mission. While we have always emphasized the importance of ordinary Catholics over extraordinarily wealthy individuals and foundations, it seems to me that the way forward is to place even greater reliance on the fundamental charity and solidarity of the deeply-faithful men and women who form the backbone of the Church.
I’m talking about unpretentious followers of Christ who suffer one disappointment after another as they come up against the dispositions of worldly powers, but who always maintain the deep joy and tremendous generosity necessary to make a difference in the lives of their families, their friends, their parishes, their communities. These are also the people who benefit most from CatholicCulture.org, which seeks always to provide the news, analysis, resources and inspiration we all need to stay our Catholic course, all the way to Heaven.
If you are reading this, you are almost certainly one of these special Catholics, the Catholics on whom CatholicCulture.org must—and ought to—rely for support. Our top priority this year will be to strengthen our foundation among Catholics like you. To avoid swinging wildly through boom-or-bust fundraising, we need steady ongoing monthly commitments from those, just like you, who are on fire with the love of Christ.
Essential Monthly Support
That’s why I am calling for monthly pledges, and why I am classifying each person with an ongoing pledge as a Sustaining Member of CatholicCulture.org. It does not matter whether the pledge is $5 or $500 per month. Different people have different resources; it is the consistent commitment that makes a Sustaining Member, just as it is consistent conformity with Christ that makes all the difference in the Catholic life.
Naturally we welcome every sort of gift, and to undertake the monthly pledge which creates a Sustaining Membership, you will use the regular donation form. After filling in the desired amount you will come to this question: “Make this an automatic monthly contribution?” Simply answer this by clicking the radio button for “Yes, please charge this amount each month to make me a Sustaining Member.”
As a Sustaining Member, you will always be in complete control of your pledge. You can change or cancel your pledge at any time by logging into your Account on CatholicCulture.org, or by sending me an email. Keep things going while you can, increase when an opportunity presents itself, and reduce or cancel when prudence demands that you cut back.
Are you wondering whether you can do this? Let us think not only of Chesterton but of St. Paul:
For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. [2 Cor 4:6-12]
We need to raise about $60,000 more in our Spring Campaign through the end of May.
But I am really talking about a way of life. CatholicCulture.org stands for Catholics Rising. We hope to help every good Catholic rise—and to rise with them—both now and forever.