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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Father Rutler: The Spiritual Contest of Our Time

A weekly column by Father George Rutler.

Winston Churchill said that history would treat him well since he intended to write it. Events are generally seen through the lens of the victors. That has long been the case with the French Revolution. Bastille Day, celebrated today with the elegance typical of France (I enjoyed those celebrations three times in Paris), does not mark the liberation of maltreated prisoners living in fetid conditions. The Bastille was a comfortable place, with tapestries and fine food. The psychopathic degenerate Marquis de Sade had been moved from it just ten days earlier. The Parisian rabble “liberated” an English lunatic who thought he was Julius Caesar, an equally mad Irishman, four forgers, and the Comte de Solages, an incestuous libertine incarcerated at the request of his own family. These were the “victims” freed by “The People” who went on to celebrate with orgies that included cannibalism.

While even the most biased historians have not been able to ignore the ensuing Reign of Terror, it is still deemed politically incorrect to mention the massacres of the Catholics in the Vendée who rose up against the revolutionaries. After 170,000 of them were slaughtered in the first modern genocide, the revolutionary general François-Joseph Westermann wrote to the Committee of Public Safety stating: “There is no more Vendée. . . . According to the orders that you gave me, I crushed the children under the feet of the horses, massacred the women who, at least for these, will not give birth to any more brigands.”

Consider that Orwellian term, “Committee of Public Safety.” Tyrannies tend to excuse themselves in the name of liberty, and governments justify the taking of innocent lives in the name of human rights. A cynic himself, Edward Gibbon saw such cynicism as an engine of the decline and fall of Rome. The ordinary people thought all religions were true because they did not understand truth; the philosophers thought all religions were false because they did not fit into their philosophies; and the government of Caesar and the Senate treated religions as commodities to be exploited, or to be eliminated when they could not be.

On June 5, Pope Francis, in the rare company of Benedict XVI, dedicated a statue of St. Michael the Archangel in the Vatican Gardens. The Pope knows that the only victor who gets to write history at the end of time is the Lord of History, and so he invoked St. Michael because the crisis of our time, as in all ages that have defied God, is a spiritual contest:
“Michael struggles to restore divine justice and defends the People of God from his enemies, above all from his enemy par excellence, the devil. . . . Though the devil always tries to disfigure the face of the Archangel and that of humanity, God is stronger; it is His victory and His salvation that is offered to all men.”

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