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On Pentecost Sunday morning, as report after report of rioting and looting flashed across the TV from a night of bedlam, the absence of God, the absence of the Church or any of its prelates was conspicuous. Where were the TV Evangelicals weighing in on how looting and burning people out of their homes and businesses is evil? Where were any Roman Catholic bishops preaching about how the wanton destruction and theft of peoples' property are sinful? I scanned the channels for over two hours and the only individual I came across who condemned the rioting and wanton violence was the president.
What an upside-down world in which we live, that bedlam explodes throughout our country and our religious leaders are stone-cold silent about it all — where the only one talking about how all the rioting and looting that is playing out is evil and is not part of God's plan is Trump!
Trump is known for many things, but not for attending any seminary, nor for being a particularly religious man. May God bless him for his recognition of the Almighty and his courage to call evil, evil! The only evil — and it is evil — that the rest were speaking about, if they were speaking or issuing "heartfelt" statements at all, was racism.
Just a generation ago, I doubt that the anarchy we see playing out in our cities across the country would have been met by such milquetoast prelates.
When I was a young man, I remember vividly Cdl. John Cody of Chicago going out to O'Hare airport and making it his business to bless each victim of American Airlines Flight 191, which crashed that spring day in May 1979. He as an archbishop was many things, but one thing he was not was a coward!
Where are our religious leaders today, decrying the evil playing out across our country, instigated by Antifa and other anarchists? These Marxists have no love for the Church. Why even have bishops if they are going to be missing in action when needed? Thank God for President Trump stepping up to the plate and calling for all these riots to stop! And for calling the behavior of the rioters for what it is — evil.
Over the last two months, since all our churches were closed and the sacramental life of the Church brought to a grinding halt, the graces lost upon the faithful have been immeasurable — the baptisms never celebrated, the youths never confirmed, the untold millions who never received the Blessed Sacrament this Eastertide, the millions of sins committed left unrepented of and unshriven!
The spiritual void left by the shutdown of the Church for the last two months, for the sake of saving people from the Wuhan virus, is now visible. The thousands of young adults of all races and colors running wild, setting fire to police cars and pelting the National Guard with rocks, all the while chanting, "Black lives matter!" and "Stop the hate!" The sheer lunacy and irony of it all — as if what they are taking part in is not taking hatred to its destructive end!
And by the by, those thousands of businesses destroyed by rioters? Do not be surprised when they are never rebuilt. Who in their right mind would want to invest in a community proven to be written off as lost by its duly elected politicians? Mayor Richard Daley let the West Side of Chicago burn during the riots of 1968 and — wake up, folks — all these years later, not much has been rebuilt. What bank or what insurance company is going to want to invest in the city of Minneapolis after what has played out there this past week?
The good news is that this spiritual void, this vacuum created by the shutdown of the Church and the loss of blessings and graces upon our nation and families, can all be turned around! It's a simple matter of repentance. And yes, I do mean putting on sackcloth and ashes here, folks — not just the formulaic.
This involves people getting down on their knees and asking the Almighty for forgiveness for the sins that we have committed, for the times we have broken one of the Ten Commandments, for the times we as individuals have lied, stolen and cheated, and so forth.
In the time of Jonah, the great but evil city of Nineveh repented of its sin and the Almighty relented of destroying it. Perhaps if we begin now with some contrition for our personal and corporate sins, our nation and our cities will not be destroyed!
If God has written his law on the hearts of man as we believe He has, then somewhere inside even those who seem to have no conscience when it comes to stealing and causing mayhem, there might be found a seed of remorse that can be nurtured into true repentance.
The more we have allowed God to be removed from public discourse, the more diluted and skewed has become a sense of right and wrong. This needs to be restored if we are ever to get past the current evil. We need to lead the way!
My prayer this Pentecost week is that Americans wake up to what is currently playing out across this fair country of ours and rededicate it to God. An America without God, as evidenced by this past week, will consist of nothing more than burnt-out shells of buildings and people. But I believe there is still hope! As St. Paul wrote so many centuries ago: "In the praise of God the devil will flee!"
In the renewed and sincere praise of God, our communities and our economy can be restored. On our money, we have inscribed the little prayer: "In God We Trust." By our communal repentance of all sin, including abortion and sodomy, by the restoration of weekly communal worship of God, we can demonstrate how truly we trust in God's providence and once again our country may flourish with God's blessing and protection.
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