dystopian or reality?

“Friendliness took the place of charity, contentment the place of hope,
and knowledge the place of faith.”

Robert Hugh Benson, Lord of the World


(Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson)

First, read the following intro to a new book I’ve recently learned about, along
with a few of the following reviews—and then we’ll talk…

Oh, but keep this in mind, the book was written in 1907.

What would you do if you were living
at a time when the entire world regarded
Christianity as a dangerous superstition…

When governments ridiculed religion
and exalted the progress of humanity…

And materialism and psychology seemed
to provide for man’s every need?
Can you imagine a world where
faith is replaced by “information,”
hope with “contentment,” and
charity with “friendliness”?

Where politicians are lauded as prophets,
and the greatest politician of them all
is worshipped by the masses as the
Messiah, they’ve been waiting for?

A world where Humanitarianism is the
new “Kingdom of God,” and madness
descends like a fog on the nations?
What would you do if you saw priests, bishops,
and Catholic laity falling under this great delusion
and apostatizing from the Faith in masses?

What would it be like to see everything
and everyone rapidly coalescing into
two distinct yet unequal camps:

…the World and its massive secular power—
and the small flock of Christ’s true Church?
And all the while God
seems distant and silent.

His Church appears to be defeated,
with all hope lost; Rome seems
as vulnerable as a sandcastle
before the crashing tide.

The Church has no men who are
strong enough for the decisive
fight that is approaching.

Except one.

Father Percy Franklin.

On the surface, he is a young, unassuming priest,
but deep down he is a man-made for the times—
like a brilliant general who sees with strategic
and intuitive eyes the powers that are at play.

He rises in the ranks to lead the
Church in its darkest hour.

How will he endure the impending
assault of the world’s combined powers?

All this is the apocalyptic scene
placed before you by novelist
Fr. Robert Hugh Benson.

In this dystopian novel, we can
see prophetic elements of our
present real-world crisis.

“Classic and prophetic work.”
—Joseph Pearce

You will find yourself in a world
that feels hauntingly familiar…

…a world in which there is a magnetic
temptation to apostasy, and even the strong
struggle to keep their faith in Christ.

Author Robert Hugh Benson
will make you ask yourself:

Would my faith in Christ and His Church
remain unshaken if I lived in a world like this?

Robert Hugh Benson was a famous Anglican priest.
His father was the Archbishop of Canterbury.

But he stunned the world when he left the Church
of England and became a devout Catholic priest.

A brilliant author, he was also an astute
observer of the great world powers
that were at work in his day.

He predicted that a modern rise in mass communication
and weapons of mass destruction would culminate in a
future clash of the world against God and His Church.

‘Lord of the World’ is his apocalyptic novel,
written in the years leading up to the Great War—
the war that would bring Our Lady to Fatima—and
he places the reader into a prophetic re-telling
of the Book of Revelation.

“[Robert Hugh Benson] was a magnetic preacher,
an excellent story-teller, a ready writer; he had
enthusiasm and unremitting energy, a rich
imagination… but he knew that there was
only one relationship of absolute
value, that of the soul to God.”

Evelyn Waugh
Author & Convert

“Lord of the World is the right book for Christians
in the modern world—and there may be no
message more critical for our time.”
Most Reverend James D. Conley
Bishop of Lincoln

“A relevant and readable edition
of a harrowing 1907 novel that,
in places, seems all too
familiar and timely.”
Elizabeth Scalia
Acclaimed Catholic Writer

Ok, so let’s chat a minute.

Firstly, I’m not a big fan of fiction or novels.
I’ve always just preferred more actual, realistic, biographical or historical works.
But that’s not to say that I’ve not read my fair share of both good and bad fictional
tales over the years.

So I’ll admit that my interest was certainly piqued when reading this particular intro–
especially when I read the line
“Would my faith in Christ and His Church
remain unshaken if I lived in a world like this?”

For starters… because you and I need to understand that we are indeed living in such a world
as outlined in this intro of a 1907 dystopian novel.

The troubling thing is that we don’t exactly see or “get” that we are living in such a world.

And secondly, the question asked is a very relevant question for both you and me…
the question being, ‘would, or more likely will, our individual faith in both Christ and the
Christian Chruch remain in such an anti-Christian, anti Chruch, anti-Christ culture?
…Not simply be unshaken, but more correctly, will it actually remain??

Because the reality of this particular fictional tale is not whether or not we are actually
living in the world of this 1907 prelate’s fantasy—bur rather are we living one man’s
fantasy which has in actuality become our very own reality??

And thus the looming question that you and I need to be asking ourselves
is whether or not our faith is holding–
is it fast, firmed and fixed…
or is it simply slipping too quickly through our oh so slippery fingers of doubt?

I ordered the book.

security

The horror of these times would be unendurable unless we kept being cheered and set
upright again by the promises that are spoken.
The angels of annunciation speaking their message of blessing into the midst of anguish,
scattering their seed of blessing that will one day spring up amid the night,
call us to hope.

Alfred Delp

2569817-2569815-charlie_brown_and_linus-jpg

Security.

Picture Linus and his blanket.

Or better yet…

Picture your computer, your phone, your car or even your home…
They are all the sorts of things in your life that are most likely well protected
with some sort of security system in place.

Even your very self…
you protect, or so you try, yourself from harm, crime or even accident.

Yet we are currently living in a time when security is at a constant risk.
Many individuals are feeling that even their very
security of self has been threatened…
as in it has or will be somehow taken, hacked or even stolen.
Much like identify theft, but not.

It’s not because our country has been invaded…
despite the cries of
“the Russians are coming,
the Russians are coming…”

It’s not because we have each been kidnapped or abducted by aliens.

It’s not because we have all lost or out grown our blankets or our teddy bears…

However it could be because those very things into which we have poured our feelings…
those places, things or persons into which we have assigned our sense of security…
has turned out not to be what we thought…

With many still foolishly reeling from post election trauma,
to those who are merely finding themselves lost in the midst of
“this time of year” overload,
the sense of safe, secure, content is anything but…

It is at such times when we find ourselves reaching for those things that provide us with
a sense of comfort, a sense of well being, that long sought sense of contentment…
most often with those hoped for things, places and people fading and fleeting
or simply falling flat.

Enter Advent.

The Jesuit priest Alfred Delp reminds us form his Nazi prison cell that…
For all its earnestness, Advent is a time of inner security,
because it has received a message.
Oh, if it ever happens that we forget the message and the promises;
if all we know is the four walls and the prison windows of our grey days;
if we can no longer hear the gentle step of the announcing angels;
if our soul no longer is at once shaken and exalted by
their whispered word—
then it will be all over with us.
We are living wasted time and are dead before they do us any harm.

So might this heightened sense of loss and fretfulness be rooted in something
greater and deeper than mere misplaced security?

Have we forgotten the message, as well as the promise, of long ago
as we languish in the emptiness of the grey days of our lives?

Have we forgotten that single announcement, proclamation, revelation?

That there is One, and only one, who was to come,
nay, has come,
to offer us everlasting security…
Security that will neither waiver nor fail…
as He offers the dearest thing He has…in order that we may finally
feel secure…

notbad

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

Psalm 91:1-2

Shaken not deterred

“The fact that the Son of man shall come again is more than a historic prophecy;
it is also a decree that God’s coming and the shaking up of humanity are somehow connected”

Alfred Delp

dscn1589
(broken bits within Sligo Abbey / Sligo, Co Sligo, Ireland/ Julie Cook / 2015)

Granted it seems a bit early yet to be looking toward the coming season of Advent…
but let’s try telling that to the giants of Sales and Marketing.

It certainly doesn’t seem to be too early for the department stores,
and all things merchandising, to giddily jump on the early bandwagon of Christmas.
as the mass marketing of Christmas frustratingly now precedes Halloween.

Yet we should remind ourselves that it’s really not Christmas,
not the Christmas that Christians know,
of which the Mass Marketing giants are now greedily rubbing their hands over.

And we must, year after year, work harder and harder to be mindful of such as it
becomes far too easy to get sucked into the maddening holiday hype which is currently
underway in earnest.
So much so that I find myself getting nervous just running in to pick up whatever from say
Target or the grocery store as Christmas is staring me in the face….

With the current state of my life being in a constant state of flux…
so unpredictable, so up in the air and so utterly chaotic these days,
I’m finding that I’ve got to grab at things when I can.
Hence why I jumped in a bit early to the Advent Book I received for Plough Publishing House

When the Time Was Fulfilled
Christmas Mediations by
Eberhard Arnold
Christoph Blumhardt
Alfred Delp.

And it was the entry by Delp, The Shaking Reality of Advent that has resonated so
deeply in my soul.

Maybe it’s because his words, written 72 years ago, seem as if they were penned last night.
Written by anyone with Christian conscious who is observing the tumultuous times of our world.

Maybe it’s because I know that he wrote these words while he was being held by the Nazis
as a presumed traitor of the state.
He had been tortured and beaten while awaiting his trial.
As a state prisoner in Tegel Prison in Berlin, Delp had been arrested on the grounds of a
connection with the final assassination plot against Hitler,
of which he was not involved,
it was customary for those prisoner’s hands to chained and handcuffed at all times,
yet Delp manages to secretly write spiritual reflections of Advent and Christmas while
secretly saying mass for his fellow prisoners.
We have his works to this day because they had been smuggled out of the prison and
shared with his fellow prisoners.

Delp was offered his freedom if he would denounce being a priest…
Yet he refused.
He was hung February 2, 1945 just a few months prior to the fall of Nazi Germany.
He was only 38 years old.

Maybe I am so drawn to Delp’s words because despite his position and his suffering,
he could joyfully look forward to Christ’s re-coming to a very darkened world…
because that’s what Advent translates to… ‘coming’…

So whereas, throughout these trying times of this nation of ours,
the family of Believers may be shaken, but we are not deterred…
Come what may…..

“Many of the things that are happening today would never have happened if we had been
living in that longing, that disquiet of heart which comes when we are faced with God,
and when we look clearly at things as they really are.
If we had done this, God would have withheld his hand from many of the things that now
shake and crush our lives.
We would have come to terms with and judged the limits of our own competence.
But we have lived in a false confidence, in a delusional security;
in our spiritual insanity we really believe we can bring the stars down from heaven
and kindle flames of eternity in the world.
We believe that with our own forces we can avert the dangers and banish the night,
switch off and halt the internal quaking of the universe.
We believe we can harness everything and fit it into an ultimate scheme that will last…

If we want Advent to transform us–our homes and hearts,
and even nations–then the great question for us is whether we will come out
of the convulsions of our time to awaken from sleep.
A waking up must begin somewhere.
It is time to put things back where God intended them.
It is time for each of us to go to work–certain that the Lord will come–
to set our life in God’s order wherever we can.
Where God’s word is heard, he will not cheat us of the truth;
where our life rebels he will reprimand it.
We need people who are moved by the horrific calamities and emerge from them with
the knowledge that those who look to the Lord will be preserved by him,
even if they are hounded from earth”

Father Alfred Delp’s writings on Advent smuggled out of
Tegel Prison, Berlin 1944
Delp was hanged by the Nazi’s in 1945
Excerpt taken from When the Time was Fulfilled

God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him,
though he is not far from any one of us.

Acts 17:27