When British and Allied forces defeated the Nazis under the command of General Erwin Rommel in Egypt and North Africa in November 1942, Winston Churchill declared, "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is perhaps, the end of the beginning."
The war would drag on for more than two long years with many more millions of casualties. But a bridge had been crossed, and all sides knew it. It was only a matter of time.
The same could be said of what happened this Election Day in America. President-Elect Donald Trump's destruction of the Party of Death sent out a clarion call: Things have changed. The war has taken a definitive turn. What must clearly be understood, however, is that there is only one war being played out, but in two theaters: temporal and spiritual.
On a temporal level, the names and faces and philosophies are all familiar — Democrats vs. Republicans, Hillary vs. Trump, conservatives vs. liberals, capitalism vs. socialism, nationalism vs. globalism, limited government vs. the Nanny State and so forth. And the various sides are rather well defined, even if there are some points of murkiness when one digs into the details.
Where there are no points of murkiness, however, is in the larger war: the spiritual one. In this war the boundaries are extremely clear and the lines very bright. Good vs. Evil is the only demarcation. But since we are humans and live in a temporal world as well, these spiritual dimensions must be played out in concrete circumstances, without ever losing sight of the spiritual reality of Good vs. Evil. The temporal realities will end; the spiritual realities are forever. So we need to fight the war correctly in the temporal realm so we achieve final victory in the spiritual.
What happened Tuesday night and Wednesday morning was a revelation of the battle between Good vs. Evil, a brief peeling back of the temporal to reveal the even more frightening conflict in the spiritual. After what was undoubtedly millions of Rosaries and fasts and penances — all spiritual weapons (and why our newest book on the Rosary is titled "The Weapon") — the depth of the spiritual battle was revealed. The faithful Catholic always recognizes the hand of God in temporal affairs by the degree of awe inspired in the observer. The Lord of the universe is also the Lord of history, and nothing happens in time and the great currents of history without His divine consent.
What President-Elect Trump and his top brass may not realize is that they are being used by Heaven for a divine "course correction." We have ample evidence of this tactic of divine intervention from the annals of history. Think Karol Wojtyla emerging onto the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica on October 16, 1978 and the collapse of the Soviet Union a mere decade later. Of course, God uses people and circumstances and events and things of the temporal order to accomplish His will, but it is His will being accomplished. Man remains a free agent to cooperate with or work against Heaven, but Heaven holds the "Trump" card — which is foreknowledge.
We can retreat further back into the pages of history to the beginning of the fourth century and follow the exploits of a much-deserving aspirant to the throne of Roman emperor: a man named Constantine, whose mother was a Catholic. In a direct and visible intervention from Heaven, the young general was witness to a direct revelation, a visible penetration into time by the spiritual, when God illuminated the night sky with a sign that read "in hoc signo vinces" ("in this sign shall you conquer"). The words were accompanied by the Chi-Rho. Constantine went on to achieve a stunning upset victory the next day over much better-equipped and trained forces, but whose leader had made a fatal military miscalculation.
Heaven used the freely chosen mistake by Constantine's opponent, Maxentius, to provide Constantine the opportunity to secure the victory. But Heaven made it clear that the victory would be owing to the Divine and not the human. That battle happened at the Milvian Bridge, a few clicks north of Rome. A short while later, a victorious Constantine rode into Rome as leader of the world to stunned faces and a shocked citizenry. And he recognized the source of his victory in issuing the Edict of Milan, freeing the Catholic Church from centuries of persecution, the most recent being under the pathological emperor Diocletian just a few years earlier.
What we witnessed this week in American politics is the destruction of Diocletian and the ascendancy of Constantine. To be certain, Diocletian always seems to be resurrected somewhere down the road, and God always raises up His new Constantine, but for the moment, in the present temporal order of affairs, the Diocletian apparatus has suffered a severe blow, and Constantine will be shortly assuming the throne.
Constantine would be well-advised to consider that it is Heaven that has orchestrated this moment by providential arrangement and allowance of world affairs. Man operates in time, but Heaven operates in time and outside of it as well. Consider that with very little direct religious appeal to faithful Catholics and other Christians, Trump won the largest number of votes from evangelicals in history and secured a majority of Catholic voters as well.
These voters, Catholic and Protestant, told exit pollsters that the fate of the Supreme Court was a major concern to them. Exit polls revealed that for more than one in five voters who cast their votes for Trump, the fate of the Supreme Court was the single most important factor in their decision. That compares to a meager seven percent for Clinton voters.
For Trump supporters, an additional 48 percent ranked the Court as an important factor, meaning that when they went to vote on Election Day, almost three out of every four Trump supporters had the fate of the Supreme Court at or very near the top of their minds. That overall number compares to just 54 percent of Hillary voters.
The political arithmetic is not hard to calculate. Trump is in office because conservative, religious, pro-life voters were horrified at the prospect of the Supreme Court's future being decided by the anti-religious agenda of Hillary, Planned Parenthood and the Party of Death. This is how a spiritual conflict between good and evil penetrates into human history in the realm of politics. Constantine must now govern the American Empire according to the will of the One who handed it to him.
Constantine's agenda should include the following:
President-Elect Donald J. "Constantine" Trump would do well to use this list as a springboard to bring about much-needed reforms throughout the culture and nation. The real issues facing America are spiritual in nature, moral at their core. Because of the interconnectedness between the temporal and the spiritual, there is of course much bleedover and overlap, but the heart of the matter is spiritual.
An entire generation — the millennials — has been raised without any real reference to the Divine, and they have been betrayed. They see the world in narcissistic terms because no one has been able to summon forth from them the understanding that they are not created for themselves, but for God. Trump has assumed the crown, and it will lie heavy on his head, for such is the price of leadership.
But leadership allows the possibility of bringing lasting change. Morality is always bound up with temporal affairs. Trump should begin a conversation with these voters and explain to them that the crowd that was just defeated pushed an aggressive agenda of using the educational structures to deny them truth, not to mention jobs. There needed to be a Trump victory for the stars to align to begin a restoration of moral order. Tuesday was the easy part. Now comes the heavy lifting.
We are not at the beginning of the end. But we are at the end of the beginning.