The importance of the priest’s mission cannot be overestimated: wherever a priest acts as a true Alter Christus sanctifying, leading and teaching, he gives birth to new life with new patterns of thought and action springing from sanctifying grace.
In time, with the cumulative strength of generous souls working as creative minorities, his efforts may bring about a Christian civilization with a Culture of Life worthy of every man and woman (although we always have to reckon with the counter-forces of evil).
In our days, mighty is the urgency due to the magnitude of the danger– comparable to those years in the 1930s when the encroaching darkness of Nazi Germany was met only by the policy of appeasement that led to the terrible night of World War II.
One man dared to relentlessly raise his voice in warning even though he paid for it in scorn and isolation: Winston Churchill.
His words, published on April 3, 1936 – within quotation marks in what follows – are relevant to us today confronted as we are with the growing shadow of a new dictatorship:
Unless action is taken immediately “such civilization as we have been able to achieve” will become “pulp and squalor”. For people who are “chattering, busy, sporting, toiling, amused from day to day by headlines and from night to night by cinemas,” are nevertheless in a society that is “slipping, sinking, rolling backward to the age when ‘the earth was void and darkness moved upon the face of the waters.’ Surely, “it is worth a supreme effort – the laying aside of every impediment, the clear-eyed facing of fundamental facts, the noble acceptance of risks inseparable from heroic endeavor – to control the hideous drift of events and arrest calamity on the threshold. Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!!! NOW is the appointed time.”
Everything is at stake because the subjectivism at the root of the “Dictatorship of Relativism” “will damn our souls and destroy our species” (C.S.Lewis) – as the beginning of the demographic winter in Europe, Canada and Japan already shows.
It is a clash that recalls the scene in The Lord of the Rings when Aragorn sought to rally the outnumbered army of Gondor against the forces of Mordor emerging from the Black Gate: “Hold your ground!… Hold your ground! By all that you hold dear on this good earth I bid you: ‘Stand! Men of the West!’”
A moment similar to the stirring events seventy years ago from July to September 1940 during the crucial “Battle for Britain”. Hitler, having conquered France, prepared to attack England, Western Europe’s most important bastion of freedom.
Resisting the Nazi onslaught in the “Battle for Britain” was the RAF (Royal Air Force), men mostly in their twenties who fought valiantly in their Hurricanes and Spitfires against a numerically superior enemy.
The words spoken by Winston Churchill on August 20, 1940 about those men of courage I have adapted and applied to the Catholic priests of the coming decades because if civilization is going to be saved, it will be because of equivalent heroism against similarly overwhelming odds with priests leading the way for lay Catholics:
“The gratitude of every home, in every land, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abode of the guilty, will go out to the Catholic priests, who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, will turn the tide of the war for civilization by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict will so much be owed by so many to so few.”