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Put Not Your Trust In Princes

March 10, 2022 Our Catholic Faith No Comments


National Review magazine stood as a sort of literary key to understanding the world during my college years at Fordham. The safe reality of faith and attending Sunday Mass took care of the next world, but something more was needed as a bridge to sorting out this present reality. Praying was important, of course. Preparing for the next life could not by any means be neglected, that was certain. But “doing things” was important as well. Acting in the world and making change mattered. So politics mattered. Derring-do and all that.
If politics was necessary, and it was, then certainly liberal politics wouldn’t do at all. And so, therefore, Republicans. And the National Review sort would do just fine. William F. Buckley, Jr., was smart, and was Catholic, after all. Wasn’t he? The combination seemed ideal.
The ultimate anchor of faith was used to justify this political sympathy. Which proved the fundamental reality of faith over politics. One must be clear that if one has ever ultimately to make a choice between one of two things, one must be clear as to which of the two may be expended without loss of one’s ultimate ground of identity. It was clear at this stage it must be God. And God was accessible and sacramentally present in the Catholic way.
I gladly attended a Buckley talk, probably hosted by college Republicans, when he visited Fordham. All of G. Gordon Liddy’s sons were in the room at the time. I was part of a stellar vanguard. Or so I thought.
I was a practicing Catholic, of course. As a young Armor officer in Texas I faithfully attended Sunday Mass and contributed to the collection. So, when I later learned that Buckley had responded to John XXIII’s letter on the teaching authority of the Church with Mater si, magistra no thus began a period of increasing delusion with politics in general. But I didn’t let go entirely. Things must get done. Like fighting abortion.
More important than worldly action it turned out was bridging the intellectual chasm between this life and the next. Praying is doing something, after all. Perhaps something more valuable than voting.
In addition to voting as political action there’s the stuff of military buildup. After Fordham, ROTC, and an officer commission I forewent an educational delay for active duty in an Armor battalion. My education in the might of worldly force took on even greater intensity through main tank and small arms gunnery, a NATO Reforger cold war military exercise in Germany, and other ways.
Seminary and priesthood followed, with more military duty as a chaplain the second time around. God’s action in the world became the new lens through which to view reality. But there was still the temptation to see politics as a sort of battle between the good guys and the bad guys.
Now we have another war in Ukraine. More taking sides. Older, wiser, now more familiar with the repeating rhythms of war and peace, rise and fall, summer and winter, I see more clearly through faith. The world tarnishes while faith and the love it makes possible still shine for me.
The rubble of Ukraine, which now lies where once rose great monuments to human gifts, speaks of the turn and return of man’s inhumanity to man, which will necessitate repeated rebuilding until the end of time and, with it, the permanent cessation of violence.
Eternity only relieves from oppression of destruction and rebuilding, the work that is never done under the sun. So it is for some, and certainly for me, the result of sad experience that the words of Scripture begin eventually to ring truer and louder. And the mind of man begins to consider more seriously and sincerely that the Lord God means exactly what He says: “Put not your trust in princes.” Which is to say, “Trust in God alone.”
Because we so often hand our trust and confidence over to princes and presidents, government and civil officials of all kinds, and find ourselves over and over again disappointed in their mendacity or hypocrisy, we then begin to believe in the truth.
We avoid acknowledging the truth in order to delay the doing of a very difficult thing: put faith in faith alone. To put trust in salvation alone. How to live without surrendering this one essential thing as we seek the ways in which we must, without compromising it, cooperate with the world and its rulers in such a way as to never betray the One who alone can command our faith.
Trusting not in princes means to work with them without sullying one’s hands and soul with sin as they sometimes may do.
Nothing makes two sides out of common humanity like a war. And this is what we face once again in Ukraine. The temptation to see bad guys and good guys. With the flying of bullets and the tragedy of the loss of life, recourse to hatred becomes all too easy. Humanity is lost in the waste of mutual violence and death, the scourge of sin once again marring the image of God in the human persons caught in the midst of the struggle, with no way out except bullets or retreat. Or peace.
The evil of war is the banishment of nonviolence. War is the attempt to once again exclude the peace of that Prince who alone was able to bring it to Earth, through endurance of evil, all the way through its greatest “manifestation” in death. The war on faith is real also, with consequences graver than bullets we can see.
The wonderful world of Fordham that I knew back in the mid-80s no longer exists. The vestiges of a fine Catholic institution of higher learning I enjoyed and valued so much then have been swallowed up and obliterated by the LGBT acid bath that destroys grace wherever it is splashed. Nothing says “we aren’t really Catholic and don’t really want to be” so much as a man who insists he’s “married” to another man while serving as a chair of ethics in the theology department.
Perhaps the hardest part of faith is faith, putting trust in God. Because it means at the same time refusing to trust in princes or presidents. Or nations or universities.
Lent has now begun again. With the Lord we set our faces toward Jerusalem, where the violence and hatred of men will be visited upon the Incarnate and only Source of peace. He will endure and overcome the greatest evil in this world.
Yes, the Ukrainian “puppet” acted in a homoerotic dance with three other men. But he represents the West and democracy, some say. The Russian president stands for the much-hated faith, family, and nation lobby. But he is guilty of war crimes and even now is using outlawed weapons against civilian targets, some claim. There is much that we do not know.
What does God say? That only peace can enable men to live despite their differences and the sinfulness of which no one is innocent but God alone and His Holy Mother. That Lent be not wasted — let us pray for peace, and that it may come sooner rather than later. And that all men, who all have sinned, will live once again and always in the peace that only Christ through mercy can give.
Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.

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