First off, allow us to say thank you to each and every one of you — a growing spiritual militia of supporters whose prayers, donations and premium subscriptions (as well as your chatting us up to friends and sympathetic clergy) allow us to keep the doors open. For the entire staff, thank you.
One of the great joys of working here is the likemindedness of the gang. Every one of us is dedicated to the supernatural realities and truths as they are lived out in the natural world. This past weekend, as you probably know, we had our annual Strength and Honor Men's Retreat — by far the most heavily attended to date. It attracted men from all over the country.
The talks were fine and all that — booster shots for the soul we like to think of them as — but most important is the shared experience of the men, some of whom brought their sons. Some (maybe even most) men are refugees from the "Church of Nice" — lied to, deceived and deprived of authentic Catholic beauty, truth and glory for most of their lives, stretching back to their homes and schools as young boys.
It was heartening to see so many brought their sons, to see so many younger faces in the crowd. They get it. Authentic Catholics, men of goodwill, they get it. They just need it laid out for them, which, of course, we do. But in between the daily grind of working, shooting, editing, writing, making calls, talking to sources, praying in chapel first and last thing of the day, there is what I like to call our "our time."
That's the time where the faithful group of men and women who work here get to sit around and speculate on the big picture. Some of the things we ask and ponder and bat around don't really have any official Church teaching one way or the other — but the topics show the chops of this crowd. They freely quote St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, or this encyclical or that, or this or that passage of Scripture — not really to convince, but just to reflect, ponder, wonder really about the glory of God.
And we discuss all sorts of things: What will our relationships with our loved ones here on earth be like in Heaven, for example? As many of you who know my story may know, my mother Anne (whose prayers and offerings of her horrible cancer pains brought me back to the Church and where this apostolate was born), my dear sweet mom, was the victim of a vicious full-on rape when she was a young mother of my brother who was only 3 months old.
My mom was 20. She was barely off the boat from England, no more than a few months. I never knew that horror the entire time I was growing up and into adulthood, until the night my father and I buried my mother in New York's Westchester County. It was a filthy secret my father had kept for the 51 years they were married.
My mom's emotional health was shattered, and it remained that way until the day she died. I never knew her mentally or emotionally stable. Don't get me wrong — she was a beautiful soul, but deeply, deeply hurt and oftentimes lashed out from that pain. Childhood was difficult for me and my older brother, and marriage was a true cross for my dad.
I bring all this up to say, to speculate, to fathom the love of Almighty God — that my mom is now perfect. And I speculate, wonder in awe, what it will be like seeing her again (God willing) where no stain or pain of sin can ever touch her again. Will I recognize her, or fumble around like Mary Magdalene did at the tomb?
We all have questions — meaningful, wondering, ponderings about the next life: How it will be, how we will be. Our Blessed Lord told us to call the Divine Majesty "daddy," and I must admit, that's a little hard for me to get my head around. I believe it, of course; I just have a hard time picturing it. Our Lady being "mommy" seems much easier for some reason.
But what will that say of us, of how we will be? Will we each become physically like little sweet adorable 5-year-olds crawling all over Grandpa God's lap, pulling his beard while he laughs and loves us? And what about our guardian angels? We will see them in all their glory. I joke with mine frequently when I'm having ice cream that he won't ever be able to taste it.
And yeah, I know — probably not good theology to tease your guardian angel, or so I've heard here at the apostolate. Bishop Sheen famously said there are no nursing homes in Heaven, only nurseries. Kind of hard imaging baby Bp. Sheen toddling around in big boy pants, but, we suppose, you don't need them in Heaven, right?
A fun discussion that arises — again, without any definitive conclusion — is will our pets be in Heaven with us? Like Rebel, for example. Hardly a day goes by where I don't look at that beautiful creature and think of the creative explosion of God, the innocence, and thank Our Lady for him. So yeah yeah, we know: We talk about it here all the time — they can't merit Heaven, etc. Their souls are not immortal. Of course not.
But God bringing a creature back to life, restoring him — there's nothing contradictory in that act in the will of God. The innocent animal fell in the sin of Adam when creation was ripped apart. They did nothing to inherit that punishment of death. St. Thomas even ventures that it was something of an act of restorative justice of God that at the birth of Our Lord, it was the animals that were the first witnesses, even as far as one Christmas carol goes — the ox's breath keeping his little, cold body warm.
Who knows? We hope so. Just so long as cockroaches and centipedes can't get in. They can hang out in Hell. We have many, many discussions here. Not everything is about the calamity engulfing the Church and the world. In fact, it is precisely so that Catholics everywhere can learn the Faith and revel in the joys of its beauty, even what we don't understand and won't until we open our eyes in the next life: This is why we do what you see most of the time.
We report on the corruption, discuss the malfeasance, the deceptions, the lies, the filth, the abuse, the cover-up, the theft, the heresy, the dissent — every last bit of it. All that is meant, directly, to rob you of the glory of the Faith — of the ability to be sufficiently trained in the Faith, to swim in the Faith, to cry in awe, to feel like a babe in his mother's arms. The intended aim of all of this is to take that away from you, deprive you of what is, by right, yours.
The same is true in politics. And is why we are so dedicated to covering it. There are evil men (many in fact) who are an inch away from driving the Church and the world into a new dark age. They have cooperators in the Church just as the Pharisees had Judas. Catholics who know must fight this wickedness. If Our Lord permits it to engulf the world, then we will do whatever it takes in those circumstances.
If through the prayers and pleadings of the Queen of Heaven we are granted another short reprieve, then in some ways, the battle will be even more fierce. Since we don't know the future, we must fight and fight to whatever level each of us is called. But each of us must be all in, in our own circumstances, whatever they are.
The next life should be thought about, meditated on, even discussed every day among faithful Catholics, just like members of teams talk every day about winning the championship. Heaven — salvation — is the only lasting goal you have in this life. As one final thought to ponder on a personal note, in our wonderful chapel here, each day we pray morning and evening prayer and livestream it. Please join us.
Many of us in our prayer books have Mass cards — the little holy cards we get when someone close to us dies. My mom's and dad's are obviously in my book, and sometimes with all the page-turning and so forth, they all get jumbled up. The other day, I noticed my dad's prayer card on the same page as the prayer card of the father of a dear friend whose dad had recently died.
I thought to myself, "How wonderful." Their cards are next to each other, and I hope they are near each other (however that happens) in the next life. Do they "talk" about me and my friend and everything going on here? How does that work? Anyway, I hesitantly sent that photo of the cards next to each other to my friend, a little nervous that it might upset her. (Her father died recently, as I said.)
Here was her answer back to me (slightly edited):
Aw no, that's nothing but pure sweetness. First time I've cried in a long while, but it's all good. I just remembered, last night I was thinking about the two of them in Heaven and how much my dad would love that because he always told me how much he liked your dad. I would have never remembered that had you not sent the photo.
This is how faithful Catholics around Church Militant talk with each other all the time because this is how faithful Catholics talk — even about whether their doggies will be in Heaven.