The Worst Good Friday of This Age – So, the Best

The present global corona virus lock down, however well-meant or effective or warranted it may be, is unquestionably the greatest assault on human society since WWII. It’s nothing near as bad as that titanic war, of course, but it’s bad. It attacks man on all fronts: biological, financial, economic, social, psychological, cultural – and, of course, and at root, and so most importantly, spiritual.

Almost no one is going to be able to worship in Church today, or what is far worse, the day after tomorrow. The churches will be almost completely empty this Easter.

This means that the lock down is a gigantic tactical victory for the Enemy. The whole Church is in abeyance, for a time; and this is massively hard on morale in our ranks. It means then that this Lent, and especially this Triduum, is bound to be a time of unusually intense demonic oppression. At this time, more than at any other in recent memory, our Enemy is likely to press his attack with utmost vigor. And indeed, priests and deacons all over the world have reported a huge surge in demonic activity, ranging from spiritual lassitude, dryness, heaviness or despair, to possession.

It is not unlikely that this demonic attack will reach a maximum between noon and 3 PM today: the hours in which Christians celebrate, worship, pray, and mourn as they remember the hours that God hung on the Cross in agony. It is the darkest moment of the Christian calendar.

Beware then, during those hours. Be on your guard against spiritual ambush. You may not be able to get to church this afternoon, but you certainly can spend it in especially focused prayer. For this purpose, allow me to recommend two particularly apt prayers, adapted for lay use by a sapient Catholic mystic I am fortunate to know: the Prayer Against Satan & the Rebellious Angels, and the Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

God be with us, all, on this, the anniversary of the planting of the glorious trophy of our cosmic battle, at that point in the field where the tide decisively turned in favor of our winning side: Golgotha.

Remember in your terror as the earth trembles and the skies shake at the reverberation of that victory – we call that shaking the motion of the spheres, and by them are we given our Earth and our Sky in the first place (for, that shaking perdures from Alpha to Omega; the whole of cosmic history orbits Calvary) – that the Veil of the Temple is by it torn in two, from top to bottom; so that, thenceforth forevermore, we can all if we would look from here directly into the Holy of Holies, and see Eternity himself, face to face.

Look, then, as hard as you can, from our present darkness, and into that terrible Light. The demons are powerless before him. He is then your protection, and your sure defense; there is no other.

5 thoughts on “The Worst Good Friday of This Age – So, the Best

  1. Pingback: The Worst Good Friday of This Age – So, the Best | Reaction Times

  2. I wish all the contributors and readers on the Western calendar a blessed Easter.

    I agree with Mr. Charlton — that this lent of discontent has shown how hollow modern man’s faith is — and where his priorities lie (liquors stores busy, confessionals not so much). I’m appalled at how “shepherds” and their sheep have reacted to the closing of the churches (not to mention being the main force behind those closings) — and I find it even more troubling to witness how rare my attitude (of dissent) seems to be. Idiot sheep, if you ask me — not the rational flock that John Chrysostom frequently mentions. Or perhaps our “virtual” life has so distorted our awareness that we think “streaming” liturgies are just as good as real ones . . . modern communication technologies have warped the human soul. With a zombie apocalypse, an alien invasion, or something like the Ebola virus, OK, I would understand extraordinary measures — but the almost universal closing of church doors during the holiest season on the calendar — including Pascha itself — for something like COVID-19 . . . it’s astounding. But, then again, I’m stupified that almost all civil life has pretty much gone dormant over it. How can one continue to form any cogent thoughts about social matters?

    If there is a silver lining — a eucatastrophe of sorts — maybe it’s that more people will wake from the current mind-numbing spell. I hope!

    • I strongly disagree Joseph A. COVID-19 is an extraordinary event that will have significant societal and political reverberations for decades to come. There is substantial evidence this virus is some kind of bioweapon deliberately or accidentally released. Under these circumstances, our shepherds and political leaders are prudent to cease ordinary operations. The closing of churches and offering of “remote Masses” is not unprecedented, as a recent article in First Things by Fr. Joseph White points out. St. Charles Borromeo suspended Masses for nearly two years during a plague. Was he a man of hollow faith? Why is Charlton the arbiter of faithfulness here, passing judgment on Catholic bishops? His “theology” reads like a knockoff of a Dan Brown novel.

      St. Charles Borromeo ora pro nobis.

      • From what I’ve read, CB moved masses outdoors rather than suspended them — would that the hierarchs in our own time think so responsibly of their people’s souls! Moreover, it seems that 15% of Milan’s population died during those two years. If 50 million Americans croaked owing to COVID-19, I’d be more sympathetic to what now comes across as hysterical madness. If we can trust the stats., we have 17,000 Americans dead, many of whom died for other reasons but happened to have the virus at the time of death (or at least exhibited similar symptoms). That’s 0.005% if we count them all. More will succumb, but does anyone think that we’re going to get to 15%? Globally, that would be 1,170,000,000 dead. Not even the more unhinged alarmists expect anything remotely close to that. Yet, if we were to follow in the noble churchman’s steps, we would still ensure the spiritual care of Christians in the midst of such devastation. And by such tending, I do not mean pastor’s eNewsletters and encouraging YouTube videos.

  3. Kristor, thank you for your post. I have not felt more intimately connected to the Passion of Christ as I do this Easter. You don’t realize what you have until it is gone, and my appreciation for the Sacraments (especially our Eucharistic Lord) has intensified during this period. I have had to surrender to the tide of events and accept that the good Lord will use this crisis according to His will. I can see some small hints of red pills around: Pundits who see clearly the disparity between the Republican and Democrat response wonder why political ideology requires rigidity, especially given it has so many obvious flaws. If they follow this line of thought (as I once did) they will find themselves at the steps of the Church, wondering how they missed such a cogent and indefectable worldview.

    Regarding Joseph A and ItaScriptaEst above:
    I’ve realized that the Pandemic is best characterized as Mass Hysteria, and this helps explain people’s behavior. I don’t think it’s so much that Man’s faith is Hollow; nor do I think the Church reacted well. There are three characteristics of Mass Hysteria that drive the reaction we got: A plausible personal danger, an urgency in preparation, and a sustained panic.

    Our leaders (political and ecclesial) are obliged by the times to forecast that things will be worse than the data shows. You can see evidence of this every hurricane season, when NOAA predicts that it will be “the worst on record” so that they are spared from any liability. So our political leaders were forced by our outrage-porn-culture to predict an apocalyptic contagion. This was bellows into the furnace of panic.

    Kristor you wrote an article a while back about how “cheap information is the acid of society”, and nowhere is that more apparent than here. A public was able to “inform” themselves about the virus before our leaders. Panic started spreading before our leaders could really respond to it, and the media picked up on it and created a negative-feedback-loop of hysteria. This resulted in a “wag the dog” scenario where our political and ecclesial leaders were not proactive but reactive, and not to the circumstances but to the public. They felt obliged to take some action, and did not feel obliged to make that action count. It needed to be fast and extreme, for “the public good”.

    Which is the third characteristic of this Mass hysteria. The number one problem i’ve identified so far in this whole thing is a dangerous understanding of the public good. Gov. Cuomo famously revealed the cards when he said “If just one life is saved it will have been worth it”. This is CLASSIC trolley problem fallacy. Liberalism believes the public good is “the greatest good for the greatest number”; you will find both Right-liberals and Left-liberals agreeing to this, the disagreement is on magnitude more than anything. The lockdown was excessive and is where I originally perceived the “testing of the tyranny protocols”, but it’s not because they said “now is the time to be tyrannical” but because their own political ideology suggested it was the easiest thing to do, and would have the biggest effect. They were wrong, but one law of politics is to never admit to being wrong, so who knows where that comes from.

    On rising to a certain level of the Ecclesial hierarchy, our leaders in faith become politicians (*ahem* USCCB). Thus, the same political calculus that led my Governor to lock down the state for three months is the same political calculus that led Bishops to cancel public Mass. In MOST cases, the important sacraments are still available (confession, last rites, etc), but the public worship is not. This just reveals that our faith leaders are politicians, NOT that their faith is hollow. I think I am blessed to have an excellent Bishop and I have had cause to meet him on a number of occasions, he is a deeply spiritual man. He also is tied to the political imperatives of the USCCB.

    What this tells us then is two things: The Church must work harder to divest itself of any illusion of political authority; and we must work to illuminate for the public what a sensible conception of Public Good would be. I don’t have an answer to the latter, but it’s something I’m thinking on.


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