The General and the Cardinal

Solomon as the wisest man who ever lived said, “Nothing new is under the sun.” The more things change, the more things stay the same. The only guarantee for all of time is that change is inevitable. Places, names, and circumstances may change over centuries and millennia, but events today are eerily similar to our past whether we know it, or like to admit it.

The French Revolution of 1789 and its ramifications of change and beyond, is arguably the single greatest event to cause a sea change of philosophical, political, and economic disruption since the formation of tribal lands and fiefdoms under the strong domineering leadership of Charlemagne in the beginning of ninth century. As a result, Charlemagne is known today as the Father of Europe.

As things change in politics, economies, culture, technology, borders, nation states, the human condition, medicine and in every social index imaginable, the people of God need to be reminded they were given a promise by Jesus Himself for the governance and endurance of His Church. Jesus specifically said, “The gates of hell would not prevail against it.” This statement has stood the test of time in light of all the things that have changed in our midst over two thousand years.

As we look around today, we see a world on the cusp of the annihilation of nations, something the Blessed Mother said would happen at Fatima in 1917, if Her requests were not carried out. Mechanical engineering tells us the more the moving parts, the greater the complexity.   We are now a world of enormous change and complexity with an unknown future. We see it all around us. We feel it, and we see it on the faces of our neighbors, friends, and colleagues if we look hard enough. Confusion, anger, uncertainty, and fear is apparent on hearts and minds. For some, it is anxiety and despondency bordering on despair.

After The French Revolution ushered in the power and supremacy of Napoleon Bonaparte, the General said to Cardinal Ercole Consalvi, “I will destroy your church.” The Cardinal as the leading architect of Rome adapting to a new world said, “If in 1,800 years we clergy have failed to destroy the Church, do you really think you will be able to do it?”

No matter the change, we have the promise of Jesus that the Church, and thus our faith, will endure. It may get tough as it has countless times in civilizations that have preceded us, but the Church will come out whole and healthy in the end. A tree needs to be pruned on occasion for its continued health. It is nature’s way. We have had little wars, and big wars, and the Church is still here. Although, Mother Church is presently severely wounded with internal anarchy, it will come out a bright shining star no matter the circumstances. That is its history.

As in generations before us, the Church has its ebbs and flows–good days, bad days, bright days and dark days. A surfeit of grace even when man turns his back on God. Times of an abundance of heroic virtue, and other times of corruption and vice as we look at the dissolution of the past morphing into a new structure. What the future is remains to be seen. We have seen it endure the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago, the Aztec human sacrifice that Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531 turned on its head with millions shortly embracing the faith, and the fortune of the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 due to a Rosary campaign that saved modern day Europe and the western world from being overtaken by Islam.

As Solomon said, “Nothing is new under the sun,” and Jesus who said, “Nothing will prevail against the Church,” — that is our promise.

Jesus, I Trust in You.

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