And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
There are tough times ahead. Things are likely to get a lot worse before they get any better. Not that famine or plague threaten us, or even incipient war; for the time being, we are still coddled, yes and swaddled too, into a comfortable immobility, by our continued prosperity and remaining might. But for conservatives, for traditionalists and reactionaries in particular, and in general for anyone who holds normal moral convictions, a time of persecution – political, social, economic – appears to have dawned, especially if they happen to be Christian. There is reason to expect that, even in this time of burgeoning prosperity, the sword of the state might descend upon the necks of such as we.
And of course, there are good reasons to worry about global war and pandemic, and so famine. Things could go badly off the rails at any moment. This is always so, to be sure. But our condition along these dimensions seems now particularly delicate. One feels that we are poised at the verge of an abyssal precipice.
But there is no reason to fear. Indeed, there is one insurmountable, unstoppable reason to share with each other this holy day good cheer and happiness, and indeed contentment at our parlous circumstances: namely, that the total, complete victory of the Good, the Right, the True, and the Beautiful is absolutely ensured by the mere existence of God. If God exists, nothing whatsoever can prevent his eventual victory – and ours, so long as we make clear to him (and, what is perhaps more important, to ourselves) our utter commitment to his side in the battle against evil.
If God exists, the battle is won already. All we need to do is choose which side to fight on: the losing side, or the winning. Which side will win is a foregone conclusion.
See, this is one of the great things about metaphysics. Once you understand what “God” must properly mean, you understand that he must necessarily exist, that he is perfectly good and omnipotent, and therefore that he’s already got this horrible mess covered. It’s a done deal, signed, sealed and delivered, the price already paid. The way home is now completely open to us. There’s nothing we need to do, other than to stop fighting for the losing side, to pledge ourselves to the winner, and to follow his orders.
Such times as these call for a fair bit of moral and physical courage, just to get through the day. We the heterodox among the moderns are ever under threat of detection and ostracism, and so of financial and social ruin. Fortunately, our heterodoxy in the eyes of the modern world is our orthodoxy under the implacable gaze of the real world. We cannot therefore ever lose, as things are truly accounted in the real world – i.e., in the Book of Life.
Be then of good cheer. Wassail! Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.
PS: Our faithless or metaphysically challenged adversaries cannot share our basic confidence or sanguinity. They can hope for no more than a temporary delay of their inevitable doom. They cannot but fear. This is why they are so angry.
PPS: I should emphasize also that the courage required of us is not mostly in respect to our status in society at large, or to the broad stream of history, but in relation to those homely little things close to us: those whom we love, and with whom we live and work; most of all, perhaps, must we leave behind fear in respect to ourselves. That near relative or friend from whom you find yourself estranged; that business contact with whom you feel reluctant to deal, for some reason; that onerous task or work of self-discipline, of penance or of askesis, that you would rather not face: such as these constitute the theatre of our first, most important, and most consequential efforts on behalf of our Lord. Put on then the whole armor of Christ, gird your loins, and tackle these things. In no other way might you so effectually work to the winning of some great world historical war of cultures. And know this: even if such efforts end in frustration or failure, you simply cannot in the end go down to permanent defeat, provided you put yourself on the side of the necessary ultimate victor, who is Lord of all, God of all, Source and End of all, Solace of all, healing and perfection of all.
If you put yourself on the side of Infinity, and stay there come what may, your personal defeat is an ontological impossibility.