As it was in the time of Lot

by Alan Fimister

“[A]nd the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered; that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son” (Ap 12:4).

John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae (1995) marked a crucial change in the post-conciliar climate within the Catholic Church. The stifling optimism about the modern world, which had crushed the spirits of two generations of Catholics since the opening of the Council, was partially set aside. It was once more permissible to envisage the world in negative terms, it was once more permissible to convict the world “of sin, and of justice, and of judgment” (Jn 16:8). Such renewal as genuinely seemed to be on offer at the beginning of the third millennium owed a great deal to the three emancipatory words “culture of death”. And this is why liberal “Catholics” loathe the pro-life movement; because it restores the state of war between the Church and the World that Our Lord demands, the rejection of which defines the Anti-Church whose very essence is to cry “Peace! peace!” when there is no peace (cf. Jer 6:14).

At the end of Evangelium Vitae, John Paul II appended a strikingly beautiful prayer which deserves quotation in full:

“O Mary, bright dawn of the new world, Mother of the living, to thee do we entrust the cause of life. Look down, O Mother, upon the vast numbers of babies not allowed to be born, of the poor whose lives are made difficult, of men and women who are victims of brutal violence, of the elderly and the sick killed by indifference or out of misguided mercy. Grant to all who believe in thy Son that they may proclaim the Gospel of life with honesty, and love to the men of our time. Obtain for them the grace to accept that Gospel as a gift ever new, the joy of celebrating it with gratitude throughout their lives and the courage to bear witness to it resolutely, in order that we may build, together with all men of good will, the civilisation of truth and love, to the praise and glory of God, the Creator and lover of life.”

The title “bright dawn of the new world” is notable, not only because Our Lady of Guadalupe has since been proclaimed patroness of the unborn, but because the hegemonic power of the day, the United States of America, has become the cockpit of the greatest battle to reverse the triumphant progress of death which defined the twentieth century. 

And, all of a sudden, a genuine and significant victory seems within reach. Thanks to the unprecedented leak of a draft opinion of a justice of the United States Supreme Court, it seems as if an overturning of Roe v Wade, the decision which imposed abortion on all fifty States of the USA, is genuinely imminent. And yet, in general, the counterrevolutionary strides being made at the end of the last century and the beginning of this one now seem a distant memory. The culture of death has made terrifying advances on another front since the death of John Paul II; in the promotion of unnatural vice. 

In 1903, at the beginning of his pontificate, St Pius X suggested that the drift of western society was such that the end of all things might not be so very distant. 

“[T]here is good reason to fear, lest this great perversity be, as it were, a foretaste and perhaps the beginning of those evils which are reserved for the last days; and that there may be already in the world the ‘son of perdition’ of whom the Apostle speaks (2 Thess 2:3).”

It is sobering to remember that the coming of the Law and that of the Gospel were both preceded by a massacring of innocents: Pharaoh’s murder of the Hebrew infants and Herod’s massacre of the children of Judea. It is hard not to wonder whether the holocaust of unborn children perpetrated by liberalism may not forebode the third and final eruption of supernatural providence in our fallen world, the last and eternal judgment of the universe.

In his commentary on the very passage of 2 Thessalonians, quoted above by St Pius X, St Thomas Aquinas speculates that “the mystery of iniquity” (v. 7) which prefigures and prepares for the coming of the antichrist might very well be the sin of Sodom. Did not Our Lord say, “in the days of Lot they did eat and drink, they bought and sold, they planted and built, and in the day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man shall be revealed” (Lk 17:28–30). The very banner of the “LGBTQ+” movement is the symbol God instituted to remind us that the next time He destroys the human race for its sins it will be not by water but by fire. This final conflagration is anticipated in the figure of the Trinity at the Oak of Mamre and in the destruction of Sodom (Gen 18,19). At the moment that it is revealed that Sarah will bear a son, God shows Himself as triune; and two of the divine persons go forth into the damned city to deliver the faithful while Abraham (standing for the humanity of the Messiah his descendant) pleads for mercy before the Father. 

Theological liberalism — or Modernism — which, as St John Henry Newman warned, is “characteristic of the destined Antichrist” is not unrelated to the sin of Sodom. St Paul calls marriage the sacramentum magnum — the “great mystery”. The otherness of man and woman and the freedom of the spouses expresses the gratuity of the supernatural order, the denial of which is the essence of theological Modernism and the basis of the evil one’s original rebellion against God. 

“It was in this way that the devil desired to be as God (…) he desired resemblance to God through something which he could attain, as the last end of his beatitude, by virtue of his own nature, turning his appetite away from supernatural beatitude, which is attained by God’s grace” (Summa Theologiae Ia, 63, 3).

The intelligent creatures to whom God gives the gift of grace have no right to participate in the divine nature. This is why we are saved by faith. We cannot know the Good news by reflecting on our nature because God does not owe it either to Himself or to us to give us the gift of Himself. “[S]uch things as spring from God’s will, and beyond the creature’s due, can be made known to us only through being revealed in Sacred Scripture” (IIIa, 1, 3). Man is not already incipiently divine. God freely gives and man freely receives. St Thomas again, “there is a certain spiritual wedlock between the Son of God and human nature. Wherefore, at the Annunciation, the Virgin’s consent was besought in lieu of that of the entire human nature” (IIIa, 30, 1).

Unnatural vice is the ritual expression of Modernism. Sodomy is the sacrament of liberalism, signifying what it effects and effecting what it signifies: the total rejection of reason and revelation, of grace and nature, in a single act of signal depravity. This is why it is so dear to political and theological liberals. The political liberal rejects revelation as a principle of public policy and public law, thereby making an idol of the state, his mortal god. The theological liberal reduces the faith to an irreducibly subjective pantheistic sentiment welling up from the depths of the subconscious, intrinsically inapt to be the principle of public policy and public law.

Sodomy of course is sterile, and the liberals’ veneration for perversion is matched only by their thirst for the blood of innocents. By means of this double war against God, the liberals and the modernists have created social conditions in which the struggle to banish abortion, state by state, by legislative means (if the hoped for overturning of Roe v Wade is in fact accomplished) — will be difficult and long. Will the more godly states slowly become sanctuaries where the unborn are protected and reason and nature prevails again, until the others are shamed into repentance? Or, in the end, will the Americans imitate the Irish and call down upon themselves the blood of their children by popular acclamation? 

As only the Blessed Virgin could assent to the gift of God on our behalf, so only she can accomplish the miracle we need today. In the words of G. K. Chesterton:

O woman, O maiden and mother, now also we need thee to greet:
Now in ages of change and of question, I come with a prayer to thy feet,
In the earthquake and cleaving of strata, the lives of low passions we see,
And the horrors we bound in dark places rejoice, having hope to be free;
Wild voices from hills half-forgotten laugh scorn at all bonds that restrain:
O queen of all tender and holy, come down and confound them again!