Have you ever felt alone? Alone as in you feel like you’re the only one who is willing to take a stand? Alone as in “I’ve found the hill I’ll die on and I’m all alone on it.”
I suspect that many of us have felt this way at some point in our lives. Now, whether we were or were not alone is a whole ‘nother discussion that we’re not going to get into right this second.
I suspect also that, if you are a traditionally minded Catholic, you probably feel that way now. If I’m being honest, I’ve felt that way recently. For those who are interested in actually taking a stand on the teachings of Holy Scripture, Holy Tradition and the person of Jesus Christ, you are going to feel very alone. It seems that the whole world has turned against these things that we hold so dear. In fact, it seems that many in the Church have turned against these things.
So, what are we to do?
Do we stand alone?
1 Kings 19 is one of my favorite stories in the Old Testament. I invite you to turn there and read the whole chapter.
I feel like this story is particularly applicable to us today. The prophet Elijah has just, in the previous chapter, killed 450 prophets of Baal and 400 “prophets of the groves.” These so-called prophets were pagans. The prophets of Baal (who was a pagan “god” of the Canaanites) were responsible for the idol worship going on in the nation of Israel (actually, the people were but you get the point). The wicked King Ahab and his queen, Jezebel, were abject pagans. Jezebel had been responsible for the deaths of many prophets of God. She was utterly wicked.
Kinda reminds us of some of our current “leaders,” doesn’t it? People who are willing to do whatever it takes to exert their power over those they rule and will brutally silence whomever dares to stand against them. The current climate in the Church doesn’t seem much different, if we’re being honest. Once, it seemed, the Church stood firmly against the tides of society and the sickening influence of modernism (read Pascendi Domini Gregis by Pope St. Pius X). Once upon a time we had Church leaders who stood firmly against the pagan and idolatrous practices of our culture. Once upon a time.
Now it seems that our Church leaders bow before the idols of modernism rampant in our society. Now it seems that the very spirit and errors our holy Popes railed against are not only accepted but openly propagated by many in the Church.
But I digress…back to your story.
Jezebel hears about what happened with Elijah and the slaughter of the prophets of Baal. She sends a message to him basically saying, “I’m gonna kill you.” So, Elijah runs. Verse 3 says, “Then Elias was afraid..”
Fear is powerful. Fear is one of the most powerful weapons Satan uses against us. Fear of failure, fear of being hurt, fear of being mocked or scorned, fear of being excluded, fear of not being socially acceptable, fear of a virus…and the list could go on. Fear is natural for us humans. Sometimes fear is good, ‘cause it might save your life. But fear is one of the things that Holy Scripture speaks to us repeatedly about.
Elijah’s fear is ironic. He has just witnessed the power of God over Baal. He and the people of Israel have just wiped out a huge portion of the false prophets inhabiting Israel and leading the people astray. And yet, he runs. It’s not wrong to be afraid. It’s what we do with our fear that determines whether it’s right or wrong.
So, he runs. And hides out in the desert and tells God to just kill him and get it over with. And then he sleeps, and an angel wakes him up, gives him food and tells him to eat. He does and goes back to sleep. The angel wakes him up again and says (basically), “You better eat ‘cause you got a long way to go, son.” So he does. And then he walks for forty days and nights “in the strength of that food.”
He comes to the “mount of God, Horeb.” There he pitches his camp in a cave and God speaks to him, “What dost thou here, Elias?”
His answer gets to the heart of what I want us to see here,
“And he answered: With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant: they have thrown down thy altars, they have slain thy prophets with the sword, and I alone am left, and they seek my life to take it away.” (vs. 10)
This is our crisis today. Our own people, the Church, has done this. God’s children have forsaken His covenant and His law and the Traditions of Mother Church. God’s people have thrown down the holy altars of God and replaced them with gaudy tables. God’s own people have “slain” the faithful priests and bishops by casting them to the side or calling them names or taking their parishes away from them because they dare to speak the truth of His Holy Word.
Are the faithful alone? I’m not talking about the people who wear the label of “Catholic.” I’m talking about the faithful; the ones who have clung to the faith once for all delivered to the saints, who have clung to Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition, the ones who dare to speak out against the decadence of our society or the corruption and cowardice in the Church.
Sometimes I feel this way. If you are a traditionally minded Catholic, you probably feel this way too. Are we alone? Satan seeks to take our lives. Sadly, many within the Church who have embraced the heretical teachings and practices of modernism and all her children seek the “lives” of those who would dare to be faithful.
Will we be silent? Will we cower in fear? Go along to get along? Or will we, like Elijah, walk in the strength given, sustained by the food given of the Word? Will we walk in the strength given, sustained by Holy Tradition? Will we walk in the strength given by the Body and Blood of our Lord?
Elijah’s story didn’t end here. God didn’t strike him down for his fear. No, God displayed His power to Elijah. He passed by and His passing shook the very mountain, breaking rocks and causing the very soul of Elijah to tremble. After the wind, an earthquake and then a great fire. But God was only passing by. And then He stopped to speak with Elijah in “a whistling of gentle air.”
And God asked him again, “What dost thou here, Elias?” Elijah repeats his charges against God’s people. I want us to notice what God does not say. He did not say, “Hold your horses, I’m gonna fix it. Lemme just kill all these people who oppose Me and you.”
What did He say?
He gave Elijah hope.
He told him to go and appoint new kings who would be faithful and his own successor. And then He says this,
“And I will leave me seven thousand men in Israel, whose knees have not been bowed before Baal, and every mouth that hath not worshipped him kissing the hands.” (vs. 18)
What does that mean?
It means that Elijah is not alone. There are others. There are others who are faithful. It means that God will solve the problems in His time and in His way. Elijah’s job was to obey. Elijah’s job was to not give in to fear. Elijah’s job was to be faithful.
That’s our job also, brethren.
Know that you are not alone. There are others. There are others who are faithful. God will solve the problems in the world and in the Church in His time and in His way. Our job is to obey. Our job is to be not afraid. Our job is to be faithful.
Elijah’s reward for his faithful obedience was the reward of all the saints. Now He beholds the One whom he served so faithfully face to face. And so shall we if we are faithful. Our reward will be the reward of all the saints. One day we shall behold Him face to face.
Hold fast. You are not alone.