As a rule, I don't gamble. I have visited Vegas a couple of times with friends and enjoyed some of the shows put on by the casinos. But never once did I place money on one of their bets, stick it in a slot machine or toss it onto a card table! I'm not a betting man because I've never, ever won a bet. Back in the day, when we used to have casino nights at the Chicago parishes to add funds to the school budgets, I would play blackjack, but I knew for my $300 I would get no return other than the thought that it was a contribution to the school.
On the other hand, I am a big fan of Bible roulette, and with my friends, I like to play that game — "Here Fred, close your eyes, and after a Hail Mary, open up the Bible and lay your finger on a passage."
In most cases, aficionados of the game place their finger on one of the Psalms, the Bible's biggest book, placed in its middle. But, every once in a while, players with a stray finger would select an odd passage of peculiar importance.
If you think it strange of me to be talking about Bible roulette, put it out of your head! Great saints in our tradition have played the game religiously. Saint Francis of Assisi is said to have used this strategy to clarify what vows he and his friars should take.
The story goes that St. Francis, early on, when pondering how his ragged group of beggars should live as religious, went into the sanctuary of St. Mary of the Angels and ventured to the ambo only to close his eyes and open the book of the gospels. The finger of St. Francis landed upon the passage where Our Lord said:
Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave. As you enter a house, wish it peace" (Matthew 10: 9–12).
After happening upon this passage in this fashion, the saint came to understand that God wanted him and his friars to wholeheartedly embrace evangelical poverty. From that day forth, Francis and his companions became known as the religious who took a special vow of evangelical poverty.
When as a young man I studied with the Franciscans and learned about their way of life, I became a big fan of the game of Bible roulette. I can honestly say that God the Holy Spirit has never let me down in this game of chance, which I can't say for roulette or blackjack.
What sparked today's article on this biblical game of chance was one of my Irish friends, Ronan, who, when stopping by, ventured to play the game.
Ronan's finger happened upon this passage from Ezekiel 38:16: "You shall rise up over my people Israel like a cloud covering the land. In those last days, I will let you invade my land so that the nations acknowledge me, when in their sight I show my holiness through you, Gog."
Scary, apocalyptic stuff, as my young friend acknowledged, but, apropos for the times when so many are going in for the new paganism — as if it were something novel — or just walking away from the Church altogether.
The book of Ezekiel, like the book of Revelation, which concludes the New Testament, is considered apocalyptic — containing prophecies about the end times.
For myself, I don't get worked up over doomsday scenarios, which abound on the internet. Our Lord said repeatedly in the course of His active ministry that this fallen world would eventually come to a close, and He would usher in the new creation. So, all those out there who are all worked up over the world coming to its end need to get over it. It's going to happen, and if you're in the fold, keeping close to Our Lord, then you have nothing to worry about. For those disciples who are keeping the commandments and directives of Our Lord, you'll be part of the new creation. So, be at peace.
My friend Ronan's find from Ezekiel in Bible roulette is a clear reference to the Last Days. It tells of how God will reveal Himself despite the world being totally overrun by the demonic Gog and his forces.
The Britannica sums it up: "The defeat of Gog will demonstrate the greatness and holiness of God and restore good relations between God and his people."
During these dark days, when the world is being overrun by pro-abortionists, demonic LGBTQ forces and communists, it's not hard to see Ezekiel's prophecy being fulfilled. Moreover, the faithful remnant, those fighting these dark powers controlling the nations, has been reduced to a ragtag group of individuals. In recent years, the Roman Catholic Church has seen a great apostasy play out, with thousands, if not millions, simply walking away from the Church. Gog's dark cloud covering our earth is certainly black.
Part of remaining steadfast in this herculean fight against evil powers is keeping clear in your head who — or what — the enemy is. Brush aside the thought that Gog and Magog are people. When presumably having his vision of the last days, Ezekiel most likely gave the name to demonic forces he saw overwhelming the world toward its end. It's perhaps a mistake to understand these powers as mere human beings. Ezekiel might be surprised to know some actually believe Gog to be an evil politician or king with hordes of minions rather than nefarious spiritual forces inspiring and stirring up anti-Christian activity.
If it were only earthly powers we have to deal with, winning this fight would be much easier. But what we're up against are many human beings, who, because of their rejection of God, have welcomed various demons into their hearts. And their demonic actions draw attention to their superior intellects. A perk of possession is getting a little added intelligence, but the downside is you end up going to Hell for all eternity.
Spend a moment considering how, in the passage of just one generation, we have hordes of people preoccupied with fulfilling their animal lusts and even raising the LGBTQ flag in praise of their new god: queerness! The new faith of millennials is seemingly the cult of all things queer.
I find it strange how states and even entire countries can raise this cult's banner as if it's now the world's greatest religion. It certainly wins the prize of being the trendiest.
No country flies the Vatican's papal flag, yet almost every nation on earth now raises the LGBTQ flag. Although given lip service, there appears to be no longer any separation between Church and State when it comes down to the new religion of LGBTQ.
Another dark layer of Gog's storm that now covers the earth consists of the black clouds manufactured worldwide by the pro-aborts. Reflect on how pro-abortionists have, in just a matter of 50 years, greatly succeeded in presuming the killing of children as part of our country's Bill of Rights. This presumption comes without any philosophic, theological or even scientific rationale.
As kids sitting on the fence of the farm's pigpen one spring, I and other horrified witnesses watched a sow of ours eat her own piglets. The sow made a meal out of her own offspring. By the time we, with much screaming and shouting, got my grandfather out of the field, off his tractor and into the farmyard, it was all over. There was not much evidence left of the litter the sow had birthed.
My grandfather, upon viewing the bloody carnage, fetched his rifle from the house and immediately dispatched the "off" sow. Big Bessy the piglet eater, despite the warm spring weather, was butchered that day. This was highly unusual because on our farm, with limited refrigeration, hogs were generally butchered outside in the cold in the late fall or early winter — never during warm weather when flies were abundant.
My grandfather, while butchering this sow, used an assortment of French and English deprecations to make it clear to us that any sick animal that cannibalizes its own offspring had to be dealt with immediately lest it infect the rest of the herd.
This farmyard incident from my youth always reminds me of Psalm 49:20, which ends with "like the beasts that are destroyed." It's one thing to be an animal that cannibalizes its own young. As animals, they can easily be eliminated. On the other hand, the millions of women worldwide who are killing their own offspring and seemingly cannibalizing them for their own purposes is a completely different story.
How do we possibly turn this death cult around? A society that only gives the right to life and liberty to its adults is sick and will self-destruct in a short period of time.
Over many years of priesthood, I've counseled in consort with Project Rachel numerous women who aborted their children. A large part of the healing process for these post-abortive women stems from seeking God's forgiveness while coming to fully understand what they've done. When you witness firsthand a post-abortive woman coming to this realization, it's truly horrific to behold. The priest alongside the woman also sheds copious tears of grief.
There is little consolation that can be offered to a woman when she realizes that her own child is dead — not the neighbor's child, not a relative's, but her very own flesh and blood containing her and her partner's DNA. When the woman who comes to this realization is past menopause and no longer able to have another child, her anguish upon coming to this truth is even more horrible to witness.
The Scripture passage from Jeremiah 31:15 comes to mind: "Rachel mourns for her children; she refuses to be consoled for her children — they are no more."
Human beings who kill their own offspring and then rationalize it as some kind of a human or natural right are truly deranged. And in the space of just 50 years, there are now millions of these pro-abortionists, many of whom help control entire branches of government and even entire nations. When Ezekiel prophesied about the Last Days, with Gog and other dark powers covering the land, I doubt he could have imagined a time when women would be killing their own offspring and celebrating mass murder as a right.
Perhaps even more perfidious than the pro-LGBTQ nuts and pro-abort whack jobs are those progressives who, in the name of progress, are in the process of eradicating absolutely everything that made our civilization great or civil. Case in point, Chicago can no longer boast of being a civil city these days by any stretch of the imagination. Let me explain.
As a man in my 60s now, the Chicago of my youth — from my home parish to the schools I attended to even the stores at which we shopped — is all gone. And it's not as if these were replaced by anything good. My Catholic grade school, which had more than 1,000 students from 1965 to 1975, has sat empty now for decades. The lie progressives get away telling is they have something new that's better — it's "out with the old and in with the new." But my lived experience is that progressives have nothing better to replace what they have so vehemently disparaged as old, outworn or inefficient.
The numerous public schools built to replace all the Catholic parochial schools that once educated the youth of Chicago's West Side are all just pits. They may be modern schools with beautiful gyms and all the latest technology, but sadly, they teach relatively little reading, writing or arithmetic. In 2022, Chicago's West Side has no Catholic grade school, where previously there had been at least a dozen.
Holy Name Cathedral is the prime example of progressives running amok with their false promises of modernizing things for the better. This once beautiful church, resplendent with statues of the saints and glorious stained glass windows, was gutted only to be adorned with extruded bronze monstrosities that are said to depict the Blessed Mother and Our Lord. But no sane man can recognize these statues as being anything other than plain old ugly. Michael Rose, in his great book Ugly as Sin hit the nail on the head when describing the travesty that played out in America and elsewhere in the aftermath of the progressive wreckovation that laid waste much of the Church's physical patrimony.
Following its debasement, many of us Chicagoans found the updated cathedral's artwork downright repulsive. It was the former rector under then-cardinal John Cody who did this and should have been hauled out and horsewhipped by Chicagoans at the time. But my father and others just sucked it up and remained silent, to the detriment of us all.
Ronan, my young friend who happened upon this obscure passage from Ezekiel, in our game of Bible roulette, concurred with me as we discussed what the passage could possibly mean, that our days certainly seem like the Last Days Ezekiel prophesied.
Evidence abounds that the proverbial finish line is near: Gas prices are through the roof; inflation is destroying the savings folks have in their bank accounts or in investment portfolios; crops are rotting in the fields because farmers have no money to pay for diesel to harvest them; war in Ukraine has no end in sight; European families have no way to heat their homes this coming winter; new viruses are threatening everyone's health — and now monkeypox! I could go on and on here ad nauseam. Everyone seems to know, except perhaps Joe Biden, that our nation and the world are in dire straits.
What Ronan and I could not wrap our minds around in our game of Bible roulette was how God was going to show His holiness through confrontation with Gog, except perhaps by ultimately destroying it through divine intervention. But after much discussion, we decided that, despite all these evils now rampant and loose throughout the world, the faithful remnant will thrive.
Evidence of this also abounds. The TLM community is growing throughout the world by leaps and bounds despite Church officials vehemently trying to suppress it. Regular eucharistic adoration has returned to many parishes. Praying the Rosary and other devotions have become regular fixtures in many traditional families. And despite all the evil powers trying to totally obliterate the Faith, it continues to shine gloriously in some sectors.
Be at peace! God's story on earth is not done. And all those who follow Our Lord will one day be part of His splendid new creation.