Liberalism and the End of American Christianity


In his essay, “Wanted for Arrest: Followers of Jesus Christ,” Dennis Dillon asks, “Are we at the beginning of de-Christianization, as France was in the 1700s?” No, I reply; rather, we’re nearing the end. Liberalism, the dominant school of European political philosophy for three centuries or more, was born amid a revolution against a centuries-old Christian order and has subconsciously sought to destroy its remnants ever since. Over the same time, Western Christianity has been losing cohesion and coherence, subverted from within as Christians absorbed liberalism’s philosophical commitments. Today has been over 500 years in the making.

You might even say that liberalism is the original “cancel culture.”

What This Essay Isn’t About

First, when I say liberalism, I’m not speaking of the ideology of the center-left, for which I prefer the term progressivism. Rather, I’m thinking of the entire liberal ideological spectrum, which embraces progressivism, conservatism, libertarianism, anarchism, and (with caveats) socialism. They all have points of contact with each other, though their emphases differ. As the name implies, the main principle of liberalism is the belief that people are happiest when choices are maximized and restrictions minimized: “That government is best which governs the least.” (This belief may be false, but the paradox of choice isn’t our concern right now.)

Second, by indicting liberalism, I am not arguing that we should scrap the current American political system, certainly not for a restorationist “throne and altar” government. On the practical side, even if we could all be convinced such a government was desirable, our numbers are now too weak and divided to make it a reality. On the theological-philosophical side, as I hope to make clear, it’s starting from the wrong end of things. It’s designing an elaborate steering wheel for a car that needs extensive drive train, frame, and bodywork before it’s even drivable, let alone showcase-worthy.

So far as the problem expresses itself in our governing system, it does so in the First Amendment’s freedom of religion. On the one hand, it allows us Catholics to not only reside in the U.S. but to be citizens—to vote, to hold public office, even to become President. On the other, the “wall of separation between Church and State” is also a wall between political power and moral/spiritual authority. Religious pluralism ensures that “religion” rarely speaks with a clear, unified voice, let alone authoritatively. And no wonder, for liberalism is the child of the Protestant Reformation.

The Catholic Imagination

To understand this point, we have to begin with what essayist Charles Péguy called the “Catholic mystique” and sociologist Fr. Andrew Greeley identified as the “Catholic imagination.” In the Catholic cosmic view, there is no clear barrier between the spiritual and material worlds. The eternal surrounds, suffuses, and guides the temporal. God can be specially present in certain places and at certain times because He is radically in all places at all times. Such a world can admit choirs of angels and clouds of witnesses or saints; it can allow unbelieving governors to be instruments of divine justice (cf. Romans 13:1-7).

This sacramental view of the world has cognates in many religions, even those that don’t have gods or divine spirits as such. (Think of Taoism, for example.) It’s a much older and, may I say, more humane way of seeing the world, which may partially explain why Catholic and Orthodox Christianity found homes in widely diverse cultures. Greeley’s work demonstrated that such a view persisted among “cradle Catholics,” especially those educated in parochial schools, at least up until the 1990s. Whether it’s as prevalent among Catholics today, I don’t know.

In Péguy’s theory, politique is “the degradation of mystique to merely practical policy and the further corruption of policy to power” (James Matthew Wilson). Arguably, the Latin-rite Church was already far down this path by the 15th century. To philosopher Hannah Arendt, the use of power is a sign that authority has failed. In this sense, the Church’s resort to persecutions and inquisitions was a sign that her authority was waning. Martin Luther’s challenge to the bishops’ authority could never have succeeded had not both temporal rulers and lay scholars long grown restive and resentful under the Church’s suzerainty.

The Reaction and Rout

Mankind has not passed through the Middle Ages. Rather mankind has retreated from the Middle Ages in reaction and rout. (G. K. Chesterton)

Luther’s and Henry VIII’s aims were, in retrospect, fairly straightforward and conservative: to arrogate the Church’s authority to themselves. However, by the end of the 17th century, the Reformation and the Enlightenment had become rejections not only of the Catholic Church but of the entire era she represented. Over time, the Enlightened would create an enduring myth of the Middle Ages as a period of political oppression, cultural barbarity, and intellectual stultification. Medieval, literally meaning “of the Middle Ages,” would take on overtones of harshness, dulling the period’s bright colors to the gray scale, eliminating all its warmth and joie de vivre.

Thus, while the Lutheran and Anglican/Episcopal “high church” traditions tried to preserve as much of the Catholic mystique as possible, the main thrust of the Reformation went to stripping Christianity of its “popish superstitions.” Enter Greeley’s “Protestant imagination”: a world abandoned by God, where miracles had ended with the passing of the Apostles. A world that has no place for guardian angels or patron saints. A world where no human could claim divine authority, whether spiritual or temporal, without question. A world just one step away from questioning whether God exists—a step more and more of the Enlightened took.

The process of irrelevantizing religion began before Luther, with Niccolò Machiavelli. Machiavelli’s book The Prince advised his patron Cesare Borgia not to let moral scruples prevent him from doing what was necessary to preserve his rule. This anticipated by almost 200 years the atheist Thomas Hobbes’ dictum, “Authority, not truth, writes laws,” conflating authority with power. Hobbes’ Leviathan postulated a “counter-Genesis” (Benjamin Wiker) in which man in his natural state is amoral, autonomous, and self-interested, only creating social groups and communities through necessity. John Locke implicitly accepted Hobbes’ origin story, baking it into liberalism with his “social contract” theory.

The impact of Hobbes’ origin story can’t be overstated. That people exist to live in community with other people, and that community life naturally entails relationships with others that carry with them bonds of moral and social obligation, were always implicit assumptions not only in Jewish and Christian thought but in other pre-Christian and non-Christian cultures as well. Hobbes’ “counter-Genesis” has no more basis in anthropological or archaeological fact than the Garden of Eden. Hobbes’ natural man, in fact, is a sociopath. Yet, as Wiker states, Hobbes’ origin story “is becoming, more and more, the myth by which we live.”

Liberalism Takes Shape

On this side of the liberal tradition, Bernard de Mandeville’s Private Vices, Publick Virtues gave birth to the profit motive and the economists’ premise that rational behavior is self-interested. Locke would incorporate economic advancement as one of the necessities from which the social contract arises. On the other side, Jean-Jacques Rousseau created a second “counter-Genesis” echoing Hobbes’, except that in Rousseau’s myth, government and social structures arose to help the greedy institutionalize socioeconomic inequality. Ironically, these premises would eventually spawn the fratricidal triplets capitalism, socialism, and communism. Liberalism slowly gained philosophical commitments at complete odds with Christianity.

On the religious front, Luther’s and Henry VIII’s attempts to set themselves up as rival popes failed. The same forces that rebelled against Rome rebelled against Canterbury as well. The “divine right of kings” died under the axe that took off Charles I’s head. As anti-Christians educated in liberal philosophies became dominant, the sciences ruthlessly de-mystified the universe and stripped the West of the Catholic imagination. In one sense, European liberalism did the Church a favor by disentangling her from the political order. But the cost it imposed was making Europe infertile ground for evangelization.

Liberalism in America

The Founding Fathers, even the deist Thomas Jefferson, acknowledged the moral and spiritual importance of religion in forming the character of a free people. Arguably, they relied on churches to inculcate civic virtues and self-restraint, as well as a sense of social obligation and the dignity of other persons. However, Hobbes’ and Rousseau’s origin stories had given liberalism an emphasis on the sovereign, autonomous self. That emphasis gradually became more antisocial; rebels, outlaws, and rule-breakers became folk heroes. Against this trend, the Reformation had already compromised religion’s resistance by denying human spiritual authority. It had made every person their own pope.

Having foreclosed cultural unification through religious homogeneity, American thought-leaders, particularly in the North and West, turned to nationalism. Education in Western and American history, especially after it became compulsory, meant the unconscious absorption of the philosophical commitments of liberalism, even among Catholics. In the South, the KKK and the fundamentalist movement subordinated Christianity to maintaining the “Jim Crow” social structure. Liberal Christianity was the upper classes’ attempt to find some accommodation with the intellectual forces cutting God out of human life. However, it simply sped up the reduction of mystique to politique, as nihilism and postmodern critique brought dusk to the Enlightenment.

Liberal Christianity is now proving its social irrelevance by jumping onto every progressive-activist bandwagon the intellectual elite rolls out. At the same time, conservative Christians have become more strongly associated with anti-scientists, ethnonationalists, and conspiracy theorists that the majority of the nation rejects. The corruption of American Christianity by politics is by no means complete. Yet it has progressed sufficiently that the secularization of America is within sight, as politicized religion alienates younger generations growing more disillusioned by politics.


Liberalism, then, has been wearing away at the base of religiosity for more than 300 years by walling off the transcendent and the numinous from our quotidian lives, reducing us to clever, selfish monkeys perpetually squabbling over the bananas. Our proper task, then, is not to create a new form of government or resurrect a “throne and altar” past. Our commission is to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20). To do that, we have to re-instill the Catholic imagination in minds grown dull, to open materialistic hearts to a God-saturated world.

In the end, systems, societies, and structures are remote abstractions. The people around us are concrete realities. The concrete precedes the abstract. Political organizations are transient, ephemeral things, as is everything else in this universe. We Christians are called to serve each other and love our neighbors without regard to the social or political context in which we live. So long as there are more than five people gathered in a stable group, there is bound to be at least a vestige of politics. But politics is not where religion starts. If anything, that’s where religion ends.

Confessions of a Catholic Homeschool Mom: Off the Shelf 190 with Karen Salstrom

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Off the Shelf 190 – Karen Salstrom

More and more families are making the tough decision to abandon the public school system and instead choosing to homeschool their children. These can lead to some very stressful times for first-time homeschoolers. What curriculum should they use? How will each school day look? Will they fail or succeed? Was this the right decision? Join Karen Salstrom and I as we discuss the trials and tribulations of being homeschoolers. Check out her book Confessions of a Catholic Homeschool Mom here.

From the Publisher Leonine Publishers 

Confession is good for the soul—and necessary after dealing with an 11-year-old who hates math! Confessions of a Catholic Homeschool Mom is all about finding the strength to get through the challenges of schooling your own brats…brood.

Karen Salstrom, mom of seven children, invites frazzled moms everywhere to join her on a journey into homeschooling.

Here, you can find answers to common questions:

  • What is homeschooling?
  • Is it worthwhile?
  • Can I do it?
  • How can I do it?
  • Where does this fit into family life?
  • And most of all, how do I keep my spirituality… and my sanity?

Though written tongue-in-cheek, chapters unfold around the Sacrament of Reconciliation from “Examination of Conscience” all the way to “Penance and Absolution.”  Full of her own personal stories as well as practical advice, Confessions of a Catholic Homeschool Mom is an accessible tool for moms who now more than ever find themselves swimming in the unfamiliar waters of homeschooling.


Karen Salstrom began her writing career as a songwriter and has several songs listed with CCLI and Hope Publishing. In 2017, she co-authored 95 Questions for Protestants, and apologetics book. Visit her blog

Using Vocal Prayer in Your Spiritual Life


Using Vocal Prayer in Your Spiritual Life

Vocal prayer is prayer in word or action. Since man is composed of soul and body, he must not only use his mind in prayer, but also his body and its senses for the glory of God. You express your interior sentiments and reverence for God in articulated words or in bodily posture, such as kneeling, standing, bowing, or folding your hands.

The great value of a vocal prayer always lies in the fact that it is a means by which you lovingly adore God. Each prayer is useful to the degree that it lifts the mind and will to God.

In vocal prayer, we use a prepared form of words, either a standard prayer from a prayer book or a prayer we have made up ourselves, and we recite this prayer, aloud or silently, from the book or from memory.

Invoking the saints aids vocal prayer

The practice of invoking the saints keeps before your mind the consoling doctrine of the Communion of Saints and of the universal motherhood of Mary. We help one another here on earth by mutual prayer; we pray, too, for our beloved dead and for all the souls in Purgatory; and to the saints in glory we look for assistance, calling on them to intercede for us with God. In this way, we can keep alive the family spirit that binds together the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, under the fatherhood of God and the motherhood of our Blessed Lady.

Devotion to our Lady is a sort of echo of our Lord’s bidding to become like little children if we wish to enter the kingdom of Heaven.Our Blessed Mother enters largely — as in a lesser degree the other saints also enter — into the scheme of salvation.

External worship of God

This article is from The Basic Book of Catholic Prayer.

The Church follows the example of our Savior, who prayed orally and taught His disciples to pray in the same way. She attaches great importance to prayer that is offered by the faithful in groups, such as at public services in churches, at Mass, during novenas, and at Benediction.

Public prayer has a special power with God and is very pleasing to Him, for our Lord said, “If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in Heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Jesus is near them with His grace and will support their prayers by His intercession with the Father.

The Liturgy is the corporate prayer of the Church

The Liturgy of the Church is made up of the prayers said during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Divine Office, and the prayers used in the administration of the sacraments and sacramentals. The Liturgy never represents the prayer of a single individual, praying in his own name for his own purposes, but rather the prayer of the whole Church, praying to God as one body, the Mystical Body of Christ.

Pope Pius XII wrote,

“The Divine Redeemer has so willed it that the priestly life, begun with the supplication and sacrifices of His mortal body, should continue without intermission down the ages in His Mystical Body, which is the Church.

“In obedience. . . to her Founder’s behest, the Church prolongs the priestly mission of Jesus Christ mainly by means of the sacred Liturgy. She does this in the first place at the altar, where constantly the Sacrifice of the Cross is re-presented and, with a single difference in the manner of its offering, renewed. She does it next by means of the sacraments, whose special channels through which men are made partakers in the supernatural life. She does it finally by offering to God, all good and great, the daily tribute of her prayer of praise. ‘What a spectacle for Heaven and earth,’ observes Our Predecessor of happy memory, Pius XI, ‘is not the Church at prayer! For centuries without interruption, from midnight to midnight, the divine psalmody of the inspired canticles is repeated on earth; there is no hour of the day that is not hallowed by its special Liturgy; there is no stage of human life that has not its part in the thanksgiving, praise, supplication, and reparation of this common prayer of the Mystical Body of Christ! . . .’ ”

The Church is called the Mystical Body of Christ because her members — in Heaven, on earth, and in Purgatory — are united by supernatural bonds with one another and with Christ, their Head. Thus, all together they resemble the parts of the living human body. Christ is the Light of the World.

The light of each individual is sanctifying grace, which, like a light in each soul, unites all the members of the Church.

The doctrine of the Communion of Saints — the union of the faithful on earth, the blessed in Heaven, and the souls in Purgatory, with Christ as their Head — assures you that you have millions of friends, bound to you by the supernatural bond of divine grace and charity flowing from Christ.

In his encyclical letter On the Liturgy, Pope Pius XII wrote,

“Along with the Church. . . her divine Founder is present at every liturgical function: Christ is present at the August Sacrifice of the Altar both in the person of His minister and above all under the Eucharistic species. He is present in the sacraments, infusing into them the power which makes them ready instruments of sanctification. He is present finally in the prayer of praise and petition we direct to God, as it is written: ‘Where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.’ The sacred Liturgy is consequently the public worship which our Redeemer as Head of the Church renders to the Father as well as the worship which the community of the faithful renders to its Founder, and through Him to the Heavenly Father. It is, in short, the worship rendered by the Mystical Body of Christ in the entirety of its Head and members.”

Family prayer

Prayer and the sacraments are the ordinary sources of grace for the individual and for the family as well. Happiness reigns in the home insofar as these sources of grace are used, because they are the means of bringing God into the home. Parents who are deeply religious and are convinced that religion is not something just to be believed, but something to be lived, will encourage family prayers in the home.

Back in the third century, St. Cyprianindicated that group or family prayers were in keeping with the spirit of the first Christians: “We do not say my Father, neither do we say give me, but give us; and this because the Teacher of unity did not wish prayer to be made privately, that is, that each should pray for himself alone; for He wished one to pray for all, since He in His single Person had borne all.”

Editor’s note: This article is adapted from Fr. Lovasik’s The Basic Book of Catholic Prayerwhich is available from Sophia Institute Press.

Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik

By Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik

Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik (1913–1986) said that his life’s ideal was to “make God more known and loved through my writings.” Fr. Lovasik did missionary work in America’s coal and steel regions, founded the Sisters of the Divine Spirit, a missionary congregation, and wrote numerous books and pamphlets emphasizing prayer and the Holy Eucharist.

How to Think of the Holy Spirit As a Divine Person


How to Think of the Holy Spirit As a Divine Person

In the creed, the liturgy, and every time we cross ourselves we affirm that the Holy Spirit is one of three divine persons. However, many of us probably struggle to think of the Holy Spirit as a person.

As one Catholic educational site puts it,

Of the three divine Persons, the most mysterious one and the most difficult one for us to think about is the Holy Spirit. We can think about God the Father as the source of all things. We can even imagine him as a kindly and merciful Father. In the case of Jesus, we are dealing with a man like us who lived almost two thousand years ago in Palestine. …

When it comes to the Holy Spirit, however, the matter becomes more difficult. Since the Holy Spirit has not assumed any bodily form, it is impossible for us to imagine him in any concrete way.

The core difficulty, I believe, is in thinking of the Holy Spirit as a person. This is much easier with the other two persons of the Trinity because two of the names that have been revealed to us are very personal: Father and Son. Moreover, the second person assumed a human nature, making Him that much more relatable as a person, as the above author notes.

Moreover, we tend not to associate spirit with person in everyday existence. For us a person is a body and soul. In the Catholic Church we understand the soul to be spiritual in nature. Outside of theology we think of spirit as a part of someone’s soul or personality, as in terms like high-spirited, someone with a great spirit, or someone whose spirits are down. We might say Sally has a joyful spirit or that Johnny has an adventurous spirit, but we wouldn’t say Johnny and Sally are spirits.

Our difficulty in fully recognizing the Holy Spirit as a person is, perhaps, compounded by the many biblical symbols for the third person of the Trinity: water, anointing oil, fire, the cloud, the seal, and the dove (see this list in the catechism). Of course, these symbols all serve to reflect something about the identity of the Holy Spirit but they do not specifically help us see Him as a person.

Again, none of this is to accuse anyone of not believing that the Holy Spirit is a person. The issue the degree to which we are aware of this reality, which I think may not be at the same level as it is for the Father and Son. Needless to say, the deeper we enter into the truths of our faith the better.

So, how can we better appreciate the Holy Spirit as a person?

One approach is to look at two of the formal names the New Testament gives to the Holy Spirit.

The first is the name which is the name that Jesus provides in John 14:26,

The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that told you.

The Greek word translated as Advocate above is rendered many other ways in other versions. (The above is from the New American Bible, Revised Edition.) Variants include HelperComforter, and Counselor, but the most literal one is Paraclete, which simply is a transliteration of the Greek word, paraklētos. In the ancient Greek world, a paraclete was a kind of legal advocate, analogous to defense attorneys in our society.

This metaphor obviously brings us closer to our objective of understanding the Holy Spirit as a person. Still, a defense attorney is a job title and doesn’t carry the same personal intimacy as the names Father and Son. So we have to return to the verse in John, which makes it clear that the Holy Spirit is a very special kind of Paraclete—He will work on our intellects to both teach us and remind of Christ’s words to us. In a way, this is more intimate of a connection than any we could have with any other human person.

The second name for the Holy Spirit occurs in 2 Corinthians 3:17,

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

It might seem strange to us to hear the Holy Spirit described as the ‘Lord’ since we associate that title with Christ. But the creed makes the same move, identifying the Holy Spirit as ‘the Lord, the Giver of Life.’

As this author explains, the name has its roots in the Old Testament where Hebrew scribes would substitute the name Adonai, or Lord, for Yahweh, the sacred personal name for God, which was not said out loud. This practice is still retained in English translations—wherever you see LORD the underlying Hebrew word is Yahweh. This name thus not only reaffirms the divinity of the Holy Spirit but gives us yet one more way to relate to Him personally.

One issue for us is that our initial perception of other persons is so visual (as the author cited earlier suggested). But there are other ways we perceive the presence of someone else and one way is through hearing their voice. In the context of faith, hearing the voice of God is of crucial importance. In Romans 10 and Galatians 3 St. Paul says that faith comes through hearing. In John 10:27, Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

In Romans 8:26, St. Paul attributes a kind of voice to the Holy Spirit:

In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.

Moreover, the Holy Spirit is deeply connected with bringing God’s word to us. One of the fundamental beliefs of the Church is that the Holy Spirit inspired all the writers of Scripture. As the creed itself says, He is the one ‘who spoke by the prophets.’ This fact leads to an extraordinary conclusion: it means that each time we are reading Scripture we are hearing what the Spirit says to us. Between Genesis and the Apocalypse that gives us quite a bit of space in which we can get to know the Holy Spirit.

But there is a point at which we have to face the truth: the difficulties we have in approaching the Holy Spirit as person reminds us of the mystery and absolute otherness of God, as the first quotation in this article stated. Ultimately our task is not to box the Spirit into our human concept of a person, but to recognize that for God to be three persons is radically different than what it means to be a human person. In the end, we should aim to get to know the Holy Spirit as a person on his own terms, not our own.

image: By Jan Kameníček [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

By Stephen Beale

Stephen Beale is a freelance writer based in Providence, Rhode Island. Raised as an evangelical Protestant, he is a convert to Catholicism. He is a former news editor at and was a correspondent for the New Hampshire Union Leader, where he covered the 2008 presidential primary. He has appeared on Fox News, C-SPAN and the Today Show and his writing has been published in the Washington Times, Providence Journal, the National Catholic Register and on and A native of Topsfield, Massachusetts, he graduated from Brown University in 2004 with a degree in classics and history. His areas of interest include Eastern Christianity, Marian and Eucharistic theology, medieval history, and the saints. He welcomes tips, suggestions, and any other feedback at bealenews at gmail dot com. Follow him on Twitter at



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Archaeologists in Israel have unearthed a 1,300-year-old Christian church that is a short distance from the traditional site of Jesus’ transfiguration.

The church, about 118 feet by 39 feet, includes “ornate mosaic floors” and was recently found in an excavation in the Israeli village of Kfar Kama, which is about a two-hour drive north of Jerusalem. Kfar Kama is a few miles from Mount Tabor, which Origen – a third-century theologian – said was the site of Jesus’ Transfiguration.

The archaeological find was announced in a press release by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Catholic Archbishop Youssef Matta of Israel visited the site.

“The new discovery hints at the apparent importance of the Christian village settled in the Byzantine period close to Mount Tabor, a site of primary religious significance for Christianity, identified as the site of the Transfiguration,” the press release said.

The excavation took place prior to the building of a playground. It was directed by archaeologist Nurit Feig on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority in collaboration with Moti Aviam of Kinneret Academic College, according to the press release.

The church includes a large courtyard, a narthex foyer and a central hall, Feig said.

“Particular to this church is the existence of three apses [prayer niches], while most churches were characterized by a single apse,” Feig said. “The nave and the aisles were paved with mosaics which partially survived. Their colorful decoration stands out, incorporating geometric patterns, and blue, black and red floral patterns.”

A “special discovery,” Feig said, was “a stone box used to preserve sacred relics.”

Additional rooms were partially uncovered near the church, and a radar inspection showed there are additional rooms yet to be excavated.

In the early 1960s, a “smaller church with two chapels was excavated” within Kfar Kama and was dated to the first half of the sixth century. Said Aviam, “This was probably the village church, whilst the church now discovered was probably part of a contemporary monastery on the outskirts of the village.”

As told in Matthew 17, Jesus’ transfiguration took place “up a high mountain” as Peter, James and John watched. Jesus’ face “shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” Moses and Elijah also were seen.

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Last weekend, Christians from multiple churches alongside elected officials in Ashland, Ohio partook in an act of corporate repentance and prayer before God in calling for a national and global revival.

Hundreds of people from the community gathered at the special event held on Saturday at Ashland’s Freer Field, a 78-acre park near the city, Frontlines Ohio reports.

The gathering is considered to be the first-ever “Sacred Assembly” in the area, as it featured a time of worship, prayer, and remarks from church leaders and several officials.

“There is a sense that GOD is doing many great things. GOD is re-writing the history of Ashland. I believe with all my heart there will be a great harvest by what has been prayed for here tonight. We are beginning to see the activity and orchestration of GOD,” said Pastor David McNeely of New Life Community Church.

State Rep. Darrell Kick, an assembly speaker, acknowledged the spiritual uniqueness of Ashland as his represented district. He also noted how a Bible study is held by several state lawmakers prior to casting their vote at the Statehouse. 

“There is the perception Ashland is a GOD-fearing county. As an elected official, I have noticed over the past couple of years there has been spiritual renewal in this area. After what I saw today, I am not aware of another district where the Mayor commits the city to Jesus Christ and a County Commissioner asks forgiveness for the sins of the county”, he said.

“I ask on behalf of the Commissioners and all the county officials that you would forgive us for the rebellion of the people of our land. We have all sinned.” County Commissioner Emmitt Justice prayed in repentance.

Then Ashland Mayor Matt Miller spoke and took part in dedicating the city to Jesus Christ.

“As I stand before you tonight, in the bright light of his Son, to the extent I am able, I give this City of Ashland to the LORD Jesus Christ. May this be a land where He rules supreme. May this be a land where His love is genuinely felt by believers and non-believers alike,” Miller declared.

He also thanked God for His protection over Ashland as he believes that the Lord protected the city from the COVID-19 pandemic as cases were minimal.

“The heart of this city (Ashland) is seeking GOD. … I believe with all my heart that is why GOD has protected and blessed the City of Ashland during one of the most tumultuous times in my lifetime and the city’s history,” Miller added.

The idea for Saturday’s Sacred Assembly came through a collaboration of about twenty-five churches associated with the local Ashland County Ministerial Association (ACMA).

Reverend John Bouquet, an ACMA member, told Mayor Miller that he found inspiration for the spiritual gathering when he read the book of Joel in the Old Testament, and the prophet called the southern nation of Judah to “call a solemn assembly” in repentance before God (Joel 1:13).

According to WMFD, Bouquet explained that leaders at the county, city, and state levels of Ohio were “strong in their faith.”

“I believe it’s one of the most unique counties in the 88 counties of Ohio that have strong leadership in all three categories of civic government, and I think that you all look at government as a ministry,” he said.

Bouquet also said that the AMCA want to establish a “Prayer Force” in September, where they plan on visiting a church for each day of the week in praying for revival, followed by more churches in the coming weeks.

“To have a Prayer Force over the City, over the County, can only ask God to do something special,” Bouquet said. “That really is the next step.”

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Royalty Free

Elections in the USA are WWJD Moments…Pjm

You Can’t Be Pro-Life Unless You Oppose Abortion


Former vice president Joe Biden participates in a CNN townhall dedicated to LGBTQ issues in Los Angeles, Calif., October 10, 2019. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

And you don’t have to think Donald Trump is some kind of political savior to face that fact.

Election times in non-pandemic years can bring out some of the best and the worst of America. Both parties, in their convention productions, were maybe a mix of both. The aspirational, inspirational moments are the best, which, of course, may be a bit too much of a promise about what electing one ticket to the White House could ever possibly do. At the same time, they are important reminders that policy isn’t mere ideological adherence — it affects human lives, family lives. It’s important, noble work. In campaign season, it can become harder to remember it isn’t everything, though.Top ArticlesRoads to RuinREAD MOREREAD MOREREAD MOREREAD MOREREAD MOREREAD MORESKIP AD

We don’t get our meaning from politics, politics is a necessary exercise — our vote and our engagement in politics is one way we live out our civic responsibilities. Politics is not a never-ending reality-TV show for our entertainment or distraction. It’s not religion. As Sister Deidre Byrne put it during her Republican Convention segment, there’s such a thing as eternal life, and this life — including politics — should be part of our expressions of gratitude for our very lives and part of how we express hope for something greater. Anything inconsistent with that journey should have no place in politics.

This leads us to abortion. There’s a lot of dismissal of “single-issue voters” these days. Believe me, I see it in my inbox. That makes an assumption that isn’t a given — not everyone who is opposed to abortion is planning on voting for Donald Trump. There are debates about whether voting for someone other than Trump is a cop-out — “blood on your hands” some on the right will argue. But set that debate aside for a moment: In recent weeks I’ve expressed my disappointment in Joe Biden. The Democrats have refused to give an option to people who consider abortion the preeminent human-rights issue. For that, I have been told I am a “so-called” pro-lifer.

I actually agree with all those who insist that pro-life needs to mean more than defending the life of the unborn — we as individuals and as a society must do all that we can to make life plausible, to ensure that single mothers and families have a fighting chance. We can’t look away from the children in foster care who will never have a shot if someone doesn’t give them the love of a family. Absolutely, pro-life should mean more than opposition to abortion. And anyone who has been around the pro-life movement has seen that it so often is people full of love for a mom who just needs some confidence and resources — people walking with her, and, yes, for more than nine months.


The other day, a Catholic priest responded to one of my columns mentioning Joe Biden and abortion. He explained that he considers Biden pro-life and that he’s voting for him. Here’s the problem with that: While I’m with the priest and believe that we absolutely must help vulnerable children in all kinds of situations, you can’t be pro-life and adhere to the extremist abortion policies of the Democratic Party.

There’s a reason that the Democrats didn’t talk much about abortion during their convention — because that’s not the pitch they want to make to people. The vast majority of Americans want to see some restrictions on abortion, they don’t see abortion as a good, but they want women in desperate situations to have options. “There but by the grace of God go I.” But like other words we use in our politics, the word “pro-life” is drained of meaning if it means contrary things — if “pro-life” means that you can claim to be personally opposed to abortion but publicly supportive of it through all nine months of pregnancy, and even to the moments after a baby is born, having survived an abortion attempt. Democrats’ current abortion stance is a radical expansion of abortion. Just look to Andrew Cuomo for an example of that. A supposed leading light of Democratic politics expanded legal abortion in a state that was already considered the abortion capital of the country, and he celebrated it by lighting up the Empire State in pink neon. And he is lauded despite his decision that caused so many COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes in the state.All Our Opinion in Your Inbox

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The Democratic Party has chosen to double down on the death of innocents. That is what abortion is: It is a law that says the unborn can be treated as inconvenient and thrown away. The value of that human life is determined by the mother under the influence of the circumstances and pressures she finds around her. That they have to use euphemisms to make it attractive exposes the underlying rot.


It’s a Battle for the Soul of America — But Joe Biden Is on the Wrong Side

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John Lewis, George W. Bush, the Heart of the Adoptive Mother, and the Call to Compassion

I have hopes that in a non-election year, people who call themselves pro-life and those who choose the pro-choice label can work together on foster care and adoption and paid family leave and other issues that we can agree on that are not the A-word. I’d like to see a day when fewer people consider themselves pro-choice, because they see the pregnancy help centers and communities who truly live the Beatitudes and help women and anyone in need. In the meantime, let’s not lose our heads — or our souls — over an election. There’s more to life, there’s more to do.

Essential to that, too, though, is honesty: The Republicans are far from perfect, to say the least. And the Democrats refuse to stand for the vulnerable unborn. It’s a lie to call them pro-life and an abdication of responsibility not to insist on something better.30

This column is based on one available through Andrews McMeel Universal’s Newspaper Enterprise Association.

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and an editor-at-large of National Review. Sign up for her weekly NRI newsletter HERE. She is the author of A YEAR WITH THE MYSTICS: VISIONARY WISDOM FOR DAILY LIVING@kathrynlopez



52 Percent of Americans Say Jesus Isn’t God but Was a Great Teacher, Survey Says

BY BENJAMIN FEARNOW ON 8/30/20 AT 12:54 PM EDT00:45Jesus’ Alleged Tomb Uncovered By Scientists In Old City Of JerusalemSHAREU.S.EVANGELICALSCHRISTIANSSURVEYAMERICANS

Aslight majority of American adults say Jesus was a great teacher and nothing more during his lifetime, which several Christian leaders say is evidence today’s faithful are “drifting away” from traditional evangelist teachings.

As earlier reported by The Christian Post, the 2020 survey conducted by Ligonier Ministries, a Florida-based Reform Church nonprofit, found 52 percent of U.S. adults say they believe Jesus Christ is not God — a belief that contradicts traditional teachings of the Bible through the Christian church, which state Jesus was both man and God.

Nearly one-third of evangelicals in the survey agreed that Jesus isn’t God, compared to 65 percent who said “Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God.”READ MORE

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The findings of the survey were collected from 3,000 Americans, including 630 self-described evangelicals, and has prompted a call for more arduous modern study of Scripture.

“Statistics like these from the State of Theology survey can give us quite a shock, but they also shed light on the concerns that many American Christians and churches have expressed for decades. As the culture around us increasingly abandons its moral compass, professing evangelicals are sadly drifting away from God’s absolute standard in Scripture,” Stephen Nichols, chief academic officer of Ligonier Ministries and president of Reformation Bible College, said in a statement.

“It’s clear that the church does not have the luxury of idly standing by. This is a time for Christians to study Scripture diligently, engage confidently with people in our culture, and witness fearlessly to the identity and saving work of Jesus Christ in the gospel,” Nichols continued, issuing a warning to today’s evangelical leaders.!/widget/33056701-8f3a-4f21-ae7b-efa90974009a&type=widget&mode=smart3&code=33056701-8f3a-4f21-ae7b-efa90974009a&token=33056701-8f3a-4f21-ae7b-efa90974009a-1&

The debate of whether Jesus is God hones in on differing Christian interpretations of the Bible and from nuances between “Historical Jesus” — the crucified peasant from 1st Century Nazareth — and Jesus Christ as one of three parts of a Holy Trinity. Christian doctrine holds that God is one God, but three coeternal figures — the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit — are all the same divine spirit.

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About 44 percent of respondents in the survey agreed that because Jesus was simultaneously a man and God, he committed sins like any other mortal being — a controversial stance within Christian theological teachings.

New Testament scholar and author Bart Ehrman has highlighted the historical aspect of how Jesus’ perception among Christians affects the faith overall: “If Jesus had not been declared God by his followers, his followers would have remained a sect within Judaism — a small, Jewish sect,” wrote Ehrman, author of How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee.

But Ligonier Ministries, which helped conduct the survey alongside LifeWay Research, sees it different: “If Jesus’ claim to be God is false, then He was either delusional or deceptive, but He could not have been a great teacher,” the nonprofit wrote in a statement last week.

Republican National Convention Features Strong Pro-Life Message

In a striking contrast to last week’s Democratic National Convention, during which the abortion issue was never mentioned at all, numerous RNC speakers, including President Trump, directly referenced it in their remarks.

Sister Deirdre Byrne was among the speakers at the 2020 Republican National Convention. The Catholic religious sister, who is a surgeon as well as a retired Army officer and missionary, spoke Aug. 26 and included references to life and the unborn in her speech.

Sister Deirdre Byrne was among the speakers at the 2020 Republican National Convention. The Catholic religious sister, who is a surgeon as well as a retired Army officer and missionary, spoke Aug. 26 and included references to life and the unborn in her speech. (PBS screenshot)ELECTION 2020 |  AUG. 30, 2020Republican National Convention Features Strong Pro-Life MessageIn a striking contrast to last week’s Democratic National Convention, during which the abortion issue was never mentioned at all, numerous RNC speakers, including President Trump, directly referenced it in their remarks.Lauretta Brown

WASHINGTON — The Republican National Convention this week prominently featured the message that life begins at conception and that abortion is the taking of that innocent human life in the womb.

At an RNC with perhaps the most vocal pro-life message ever, speakers discussed the medical realities of abortion and spoke out against late-term abortion.

And the week culminated in a pro-life message from President Donald Trump, who made the abortion issue a part of his speech on Thursday evening while accepting the Republican nomination for the presidency. “Tonight,” he said, “we proudly declare that all children, born and unborn, have a God-given right to life.”

The president also called out the Democrats’ embrace of late-term, taxpayer-funded abortion. He said Joe Biden “claims he has empathy for the vulnerable — yet the party he leads supports the extreme late-term abortion of defenseless babies right up to the moment of birth. They have no problem with stopping a baby’s beating heart in the ninth month of pregnancy.”

In fact, focusing on the support for late-term abortion from Biden and the Democrats was a theme throughout the convention and was mentioned by Vice President Mike Pence, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and others.

Sister Deirdre Byrne, a surgeon, retired Army officer and missionary who is now a religious sister with the Community of the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, was another speaker who referenced the Democrats’ late-term abortion stance. Sister Deirdre said that President Trump “will stand up against Biden-Harris, who are the most anti-life presidential ticket ever, even supporting the horrors of late-term abortion and infanticide.”

“The truth is the largest marginalized group can be found here in the United States,” Sister Deirdre said. “They are the unborn. As Christians, we first met Jesus as a stirring embryo in the womb of an unwed mother and saw him born nine months later in the poverty of the cave.” She added: “As a physician I can say without hesitation: Life begins at conception.”

Many in the mainstream media targeted Sister Deirdre’s statement about Biden’s stance on late-term abortion. NPR said it was “not true” because “Biden has not explicitly expressed support for late-term abortions. He wants to codify Roe v. Wade and reup federal funding for Planned Parenthood.” The Washington Post made a similar “fact check” of Sister Deirdre’s claim, saying that Biden “does not” support late-term abortion and infanticide.

However, a fact check confirmed that Biden “believes in the standard laid out by Roe and Casey,” which the fact check itself acknowledged permits some late-term abortions, saying that while “most abortions are performed in the earlier stages of pregnancy” about “1% happen after the fetus reaches the point of viability.”

Former Abortion Worker’s Voice

While Sister Deirdre referenced the science of life at conception, Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood business director-turned-pro-life speaker, described Tuesday her conversion to the pro-life movement after witnessing an ultrasound-guided abortion.

Johnson described seeing “an unborn baby fighting back, desperate to move away from the suction. I’ll never forget what the doctor said next: ‘Beam me up, Scottie.’ The next thing I saw was a spine twirling around in the mother’s womb before succumbing to the force of the suction.”

She said that people don’t realize the “barbarity” of abortion and “don’t know about the products-of-conception room in abortion clinics, where infant corpses are pieced back together to ensure nothing remains in the mothers’ wombs; or that we joked and called it ‘the pieces-of-children room.’” For her, she related, “Abortion is real. I know what it sounds like. I know what abortion smells like. Did you know abortion even had a smell?”

Johnson said that President Trump “has done more for the unborn than any other president” and concluded that “life is a core tenet of who we are as Americans, and this election is a choice between two, radical anti-life activists and the most pro-life president we have ever had.”

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, a pro-life physician and policy adviser for The Catholic Association, told the Register of Johnson’s speech that “Abby Johnson spoke as one who has witnessed firsthand the violence and tragedy of abortion. As a radiologist who regularly sees 13-week-old babies via ultrasound, I can say that, although small, he or she has all of his or her perfectly recognizable parts and organs: head, face, limbs, spine, liver, stomach, even sex organs. The destruction of such a tiny human being would leave a deep and lasting impression on anyone involved.”

Just prior to and following her speech, Johnson’s account of abortion was scrutinized by the media. However, even within these articles, details of her description of abortion were confirmed. Washington Post style columnist Monica Hesse acknowledged that Johnson’s claim “that doctors piece together fetal remains to make sure the abortion is complete — that’s true.” But, she added, “it’s not some ghoulish jigsaw puzzle done on a lark. It’s because an incomplete abortion could be dangerous to a patient’s health, and abortion doctors care about women’s lives.”

The New York Times also attempted to label part of Johnson’s speech “misleading” — and ended up confirming another disturbing element of her account.

Regarding her story of an unborn baby “desperate to move away from the suction,” they noted that “medical experts say that a fetus at that stage of gestation could respond reflexively to a foreign object, consistent with what Ms. Johnson described, but that it would not be able to feel pain until much later in the pregnancy.”

However, Johnson had not made any claims about whether or not the 13-week-old unborn baby could feel pain; she simply stated her horror at observing that the baby moved away from the suction that would remove it from its mother’s womb and stop its small heart.

The convention also featured a mother’s perspective. Tera Myers, a school-choice advocate, spoke passionately Wednesday about her son Samuel, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb.

“Before Samuel was even born,” she said, “I was told his life wouldn’t be worth living. When early tests revealed he had Down syndrome, our doctor encouraged me to terminate the pregnancy. He said, ‘If you do not, you will be burdening your life, your family and your community.’ I knew my baby was a human being created by God and that made him worthy of life. I am thankful that President Trump values the life of the unborn.” 

Myers’ comments about the doctor recommending abortion after a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome likely struck home for many. Columns in The Washington Post, The New York Times and NBC News have made the case, similar to the doctor in Myers’ story, that not everyone can handle the emotional and financial cost of parenting a child with disabilities. This is something that parents of these special children, like Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., have found highly offensive.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas warned last year of “eugenic abortions,” stating that “with today’s prenatal screening tests and other technologies, abortion can easily be used to eliminate children with unwanted characteristics.” He referenced the high rates of abortion for babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome, including in the United States, where the estimated abortion rate is 67% after such a diagnosis.

The Second-Term Agenda

Whereas the RNC speakers described abortion, expressed concerns about late-term abortion extremism, and the problem of unborn babies with disabilities being targeted for abortion, the abortion issue was not mentioned by the speakers at the DNC last week. However, the DNC platform prompted protests from pro-lifers due to its backing of taxpayer-funded abortion without restrictions.

For its part, the RNC opted against devising a 2020 platform, instead renewing its 2016 platform that stated “we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed,” opposed “the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion” and called on Congress to “ban sex-selection abortions and abortions based on disabilities — discrimination in its most lethal form.”

In addition to renewing the platform, the RNC backed Trump’s 50-point second-term agenda, which featured “core priorities” for the administration but did not contain any mention of abortion. The Trump campaign did not directly address why abortion was omitted from the agenda.

However, Trump campaign Assistant Press Secretary Sarah Hasse told the Register that “while Joe Biden and Kamala Harris hope to mandate taxpayer-funded abortions, President Trump is standing up for the lives of the unborn. President Trump is the most pro-life president in the history of our great nation, and Catholics across the country need four more years of this president protecting our religious freedoms and staunchly defending those who cannot defend themselves.” 

RNC Deputy Communications Director Cassie Smedile told EWTN Pro-Life Weekly this week that she couldn’t speak to the “policy decisions” regarding the omission of abortion in the agenda, but that “the president was outlining what he thought he could do that was attainable right in the moment with the circumstances that we have because, with House Democrats in the majority, we’re no longer talking about people who are just left of center on an issue; these people are all the way far left … so we’ve got to make sure that we are getting the right people in Congress to help propel the administration’s priorities.”

Response From Pro-Life Leaders

Pro-life leaders had plenty of praise this week for the way the issue was highlighted at the RNC.

Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, who also serves as national co-chair of Pro-Life Voices for Trump, commented that “President Trump’s speech marks the pinnacle of the most explicitly pro-life Republican convention ever. While Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and other leading Democrats downplay their radical and deeply unpopular agenda, President Trump and Vice President Pence continually call out the Democrats for supporting abortion on demand through birth and even infanticide, paid for by taxpayers.”

Dannenfelser said that, in “stark contrast to the Democrats, who were too afraid to even utter the word ‘abortion’ during four days of national television coverage, they are using their platform to promote a multitude of diverse pro-life voices. Thanks to the extraordinary leadership of our pro-life president and vice president, Republicans are unified and energized on this issue like never before and life is truly winning in America.”

Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, said in a statement that “President Trump has supported policies that defend the most vulnerable among us. The administration issued the Protecting Life in Global Health Policy, which prevents our taxes from funding abortions overseas, and also redirected Title X funding away from domestic abortion businesses. In a historic move, President Trump even showed his commitment to the pro-life cause by speaking at the 2020 March for Life Rally.”

“President Trump and Vice President Pence have earned their status as heroes to the pro-life movement,” Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee said in a statement. “We are grateful for their firm belief in the right to life and their courage, stamina, and commitment on behalf of our nation’s most vulnerable.”

She said that the RNC’s pro-life speakers “showed once again that the Democratic Party’s platform of abortion on demand, at anytime, anywhere and for any reason appalls everyday Americans.”

Lauretta Brown is the Register’s Washington-based staff writer.View Comments

“I Was Hit Hard by Covid 19 and am Still Not Afraid”

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Msgr. Charles Pope

It was July 27, a fairly normal Monday at the parish. I was up early for the radio show followed by a private Mass. Strangely, my nerves were shot, and I had no appetite. By early afternoon I had a fever of 102.5 and felt horrible. A parishioner friend offered to drive me to the nearby urgent care center. Both of us masked up, and we made the short drive.

I could barely fill out the multiple forms required but was seen rather quickly. Given my symptoms I was given the rapid test for COVID-19. A grim-faced nurse practitioner reported the results to me: “You are positive for COVID-19.”

My mind raced as I envisioned all the possible repercussions, and sure enough, all of them would later come to pass. Priests do not live an isolated life — we interact with so many people! Consequently, by midweek nearly 300 people with whom I had been in recent contact were informed that they should self-quarantine for 14 days and be tested themselves. I was more concerned for them than for myself. The rectory and church were then shuttered for nearly two weeks, which was particularly painful given that we had just begun to get up and running after nearly four months of closure.

The urgent care center referred me to the emergency room at Georgetown University Hospital because my blood oxygen level was rather low. My condition stabilized in the emergency room, however, and I was sent home and instructed to self-quarantine. I had been told to get a pulse oximeter to monitor the oxygen level in my blood. So, I dutifully stuck my finger into the device several times each day to gauge my oxygen saturation. I learned that numbers in the mid-90s are good, but I was told that if the oxygen level dropped into the 80s, I was to return to the hospital at once.

At first it seemed that my response to COVID-19 would be similar to a flu. I had a light cough and mild fever and improved steadily over the next several days. Another member of the rectory household, who had tested positive just a day before I did, had only minor symptoms for a few days and then recovered. I expected my trajectory to be similar.

It was not to be. Just as the flu-like symptoms were abating I became short of breath and my oxygen levels dropped into the mid-80s. I was taken immediately back to Georgetown University Hospital and admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, where they gave me 100% high-flow oxygen and various treatments and medications to help fight my respiratory failure. Remdesivir, an antiviral, and a number of steroids were used. Thanks be to God, I began to improve. I spent 11 days in the ICU, however, and once I was weaned off the oxygen and my lungs were clear I was sent home with orders to rest. I was indeed quite feeble after 11 days spent in bed or in a hospital chair. Slowly I have recovered my strength. COVID had finally left the building!

I cannot deny that it was an ordeal, and it did not help that the Washington Post published a piece about me that was filled with distortions and lies. Despite the claims they printed, I have never told people not to wear masks or not to socially distance, nor have I suggested that anyone violate civil laws or norms. In addition, I certainly never said that those who have not returned to Mass by now are lukewarm Catholics. There are many people who should not be attending Mass just yet due to vulnerabilities.

Thanks be to God for my staff, who protected me from the hate mail that arrived, electronically and via “snail mail.” They told me that the mail was more awful than they could ever have imagined. Thanks be to God, too, for all of God’s faithful who did not believe the things written about me in the article and repeated on local television news stations. I am sincerely grateful to prominent journalists Claire Chretien and Chris Bedford, each of whom wrote an article to set the record straight.

Lying flat on my back in the ICU I sighed to the Lord. But he reminded me, “I’ve got you close to me right now at the cross. Remember, Carlito, they distorted my words, too. They gave false and conflicting testimony, and I too suffered respiratory failure on the Cross.” An old gospel song says, “God says, ‘I got this, so you let go.’” Okay, Lord, it’s yours.

When my sorrow and anger would occasionally return, I sought refuge in the immense gratitude I had for all who were praying for me. A friend and colleague of mine in the EWTN world told me something astonishing and true. He said, “It’s quite likely that right now a million people have prayed for you.” Wow!

And I cannot speak highly enough of the skilled nurses, doctors and medical staff who were both professional and compassionate. Because I was in isolation, they were my sole visitors. Even if they came only to draw blood, I was grateful for their company and for the simple fact that, with proper protective gear, they were willing to take my hand to reassure me in moments of sorrow and uncertainty.

At the time, I could only return the millions of prayers and beautiful care by praying Rosaries and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Now, I have offered Masses as well. I can never thank them enough! In a dark moment I complained to the Lord that I could not see his face or feel his presence. He said, “Look again and see me in the faces of the doctors and nurses, hear me in the prayers of the million who are praying for you now.” Okay, Lord, I know. I have preached that; now I must live it.

Ongoing concerns: With the death toll in the United States approaching 200,000, COVID-19 is not something to dismiss with a wave of the hand. I have always said that we need to take the virus seriously. However, I have also been among those who believe the effects of the shutdowns should be taken seriously as well. We need to find a proper balance between the effects of the disease and the effects (economically, socially and personally) of the restrictions.

Regarding the Church, I think we are only beginning to discover the toll that the suspension of sacraments and liturgical functions has had. Most parishes report that only 20-40% of communicants have returned. Certainly there are some who should not return yet, but it is beginning to dawn on us that our parishes are going to be a lot smaller and less viable in the near future, even if a vaccine is found or the danger of COVID-19 diminishes.

Some are predicting renewed shutdowns (to include churches) in the fall when seasonal flu is added into the mix. Will we as a Church simply comply the same way we did before? Will we be more creative in getting the sacraments to people outside of large indoor gatherings (e.g., Communion outside of Mass or as part of an outdoor liturgy)? Will we lock our church buildings entirely? Will we keep them open for personal prayer? Will our bishops vigorously advocate for the essential nature of church attendance with public officials, or will liquor stores and protest marches continue be deemed more essential? Will they quietly comply with another call for total shutdown? All this remains to be seen. And this leads to my final point.

Some have asked me, “Have you changed your views on COVID-19 now that you have been so sick with it?” No. I am a survivor. COVID-19 brought me to the precipice. Respiratory failure is extremely serious — even deadly. Thanks be to God, the medical staff went right to work and, thanks to recent advances made in treating the most serious forms of the disease, they knew exactly what to do so that my immune system would be able to fight back. COVID-19 is not an automatic death sentence. I survived, and so do most people who get it.

So, my call to all of us continues to be that we place our fears in perspective. Despite my own struggle with COVID-19, I was in the rarefied category of the 5% who require the ICU. Hence, my concern remains that our fears are out of proportion to the actual risks. Prudence directs that we should take reasonable measures to hold down its spread. Wearing a mask, social distancing and washing our hands frequently are part of what we have been asked to do, and observing these reasonable requirements is both just and prudent.

But in a secular world where suffering and death have lost all meaning, we must not succumb to meaninglessness. Each of us is called to be a beacon of hope who reassures others that even when the worst comes, God is still at work and can draw great goodness from suffering; He can instill humility in us and produce a future glory that far outweighs the suffering (see 2 Corinthians 4:17). We have been too silent about this, fearing that people will say we “do not care” that people are suffering and dying. We do care, and we do not want their suffering and even possible death to be meaningless!

A life courageously lived accepts the risks of this world and prudently avoids unnecessary ones, trusting that God has a plan that is meant to perfect us and prepare us for the glory that awaits. Jesus says, “In this world you shall have tribulation. But have confidence, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Lord, help us to know the way. We are summoned to find that delicate balance between cowering fear and reckless foolishness. Help us also to find the proper balance between necessary protections and heavier measures that may deprive people of their livelihoods and the precious human interactions that make for life. We are seized by many fears today. Some of them are appropriate; others are excessive. Help us to distinguish and to find our way to that balanced place we call prudence. Help us also to be patient with one another. Some have more reason to remain secluded. Others have an urgency to get back to work, to provide for their families, to interact with others. Each of us has decisions to make, and all of us need your grace to decide well and to trust you. Help us, Lord. Save us, have mercy on us, and keep us by your grace. Amen!