The Flame: March-April 2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In January I received an email to a YouTube video audio clip
of the late Paul Harvey, an American news commentator.
heard some of Paul Harvey’s news commentary over the years
so I listened to his three-minute clip entitled If I were the Devil.
In my investigation of this clip I read that this audio clip first
aired in April of 1965.
It was somewhat prophetic. Paul Harvey
saw seeds being sown that would come to fruition in the
dominant culture we have today. Though tweaked and re-aired
over the years, it has remained substantially the same. Here
are some of the lines of If I were the Devil.
So I (the Devil) should set about however necessary, to take
over the United States.
I would begin with a campaign of
whispers. The minds of many people are filled with suspicion.
They distrust the news, politicians and their neighbors. Since
the beginning of the year, a number of people have called me
saying that their loved ones have gone off the deep end. The
isolation of the pandemic and the constant barrage of news
media has left people mistrustful of all institutions and
I would caution them not to be “extreme” in religion, in
patriotism, in moral conduct.
And yet, it is our lack of being
extreme that has made the faith of many people lukewarm. In
his book A Church in Crisis: Pathways Forward, Ralph Martin
commented, “There has been a tendency in the Catholic Church
for the Christian truths to be intellectually held and perhaps
accurately expressed, but not adequately incarnated in life or
action. Often this has been due to what Spanish bishop, Juan
Hervas, one of the founders of the Cursillo Movement, called
the “minimalist corruption of the Gospel.” By this, Bishop Hervas
meant the tendency in practice to ask less of Catholics than
what the Gospel asks and to offer less than what the Gospel
offers.” (page 299.)
And the old I would teach to pray — to say after me — “Our
father which are in Washington.”
Instead of asking, “What can
I do for my country?”, many people are looking for the
government to solve all their problems. Have we forgotten that
we already have a Savior in Jesus Christ? Are we so occupied
with earthly things that we have forgotten that we are first
citizens of heaven awaiting the return of the Lord (Philippians
3:19-20)? Though we make use of all the freedoms we have as
earthly citizens, in truth we are aliens and sojourners (I Peter
2:11) on our way to our heavenly homeland.
The problems that I mentioned in the preceding paragraphs
will not go away when the pandemic ends.
They were there
before the pandemic. Like an earthquake, the pandemic shook
our lives and showed us where we have some foundational
What is the solution to this mess that we are in?
we need more of God! Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Russian
dissident who spent time in the Gulag (Russian prison for
dissidents), once said this regarding those in the free world:
Men have forgotten God. For sure, God still lurks in the
memories of people. However, the impact that God has on the
values, choices and behavior of people has been minimized.
I see that the way forward begins with deepening our
relationship with the Lord.
He must be our first trust. Only by
being deeply rooted in Christ can we resist the worldly
influences of our time. If we find ourselves on the bandwagon
of political extremism (liberal or conservative) and being
suspicious of all institutions and authorities, perhaps we have
been taking in too much media (social and otherwise) and not
enough of the truth of our faith.
We tend to think that we are impervious to propaganda.
truth is that if we are not renewing our minds (Romans 12:2)
by soaking our souls in Sacred Scripture and the Catechism of
the Catholic Church, we are probably being highly influenced
by a worldly ideology. I must admit that I find many people
who fancy themselves as experts in the coronavirus, vaccines,
politics, the election and many other things and few people
who are on fire with the love of God and neighbor.
Our liturgical seasons of Lent and Easter summon us to die
and rise with Jesus Christ.
It is time to give alms, pray and fast.
Besides fasting from food, we can abstain from those media
influences that get us worked up about worldly things and
quench our desire from God. We can turn our eyes on Jesus
Christ, especially as He comes to us in the “distressing disguise
of the poor” (St. Mother Teresa’s phrase) and find ways to show
them compassion and service. We can pray, baring our souls to
the light of God’s grace in order to be set aflame with God’s
love. In these ways, we ready ourselves to celebrate our Risen
Lord and the coming of the Holy Spirit. In doing these things
we find our true and certain hope.
Fr. Bob Franco