Dom Prosper Guéranger’s multivolume masterpiece The Liturgical Year unsurprisingly contains troves of reflections on the Church’s liturgical offerings for seasons, moveable and immoveable feasts, and the lives of saints. However, the pages of his books also reveal clear signs of God’s action in the world. Dom Prosper makes this observation for the Thursday in Sexagesima week:
God promised Noah that He would never more punish the earth with a deluge. But, in His justice, He has many times visited the sins of men with a scourge which, in more senses than one, bears a resemblance to a deluge: the invasion of enemies. We meet with these invasions in every age, and each time we see the hand of God. We can trace the crimes that each of them was sent to punish, and in each we find a manifest proof of the infinite justice wherewith God governs the world. (Volume IV, p. 167)
If Guéranger is correct, then what invasion is appropriate for us in this time and place? I say the unmistakable answer is the deluge of illegal immigration overwhelming our nation’s borders and society.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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Someone might object by asserting that this immigrant invasion is not military but rather one of humanitarian need. That objection helps make my point, which is this: our compassion for the desperate stranger is no longer tied to Christ’s Gospel, and this ersatz compassion is now our downfall. As Flannery O’Connor, in her caustic, unsentimental way, famously put it in one of her letters,
If other ages felt less, they saw more, even though they saw with the blind, prophetical, unsentimental eye of acceptance, which is to say, of faith. In the absence of this faith now, we govern by tenderness. It is a tenderness which, long the source of tenderness, its logical outcome is terror. It ends in forced labor camps and in the fumes of the gas chamber. (Collected Works, pp. 830-831)
While we don’t exactly have labor camps and gas chambers, we do have widespread abortion and infanticide (aka “late-term abortion”), inner-city killing zones, spikes in deaths of despair, and drug overdoses, all in large part due to ersatz compassion. That is the compassion that empowers our government to allow millions of noncitizens into this country.
It may be objected that every one of these immigrants is a person with human dignity, and to a point that is true. They are also, as humans, afflicted by original sin and prone to concupiscence. Ersatz compassion seeks only to focus on rights uncoupled from responsibility and obedience to laws.
In the past, we would have helped people; now we enable them. This humanitarian invasion comes from spurning God. Consider American cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Seattle. Ersatz compassion in those places has resulted in crises of the common good. Residents do not feel safe in the midst of aggressive homeless tribes, and the beauty of iconic urban settings are defaced by garbage, graffiti, and human waste.
Ersatz compassion never holds individuals accountable, nor does it work for restoration and strengthening of family and community bonds, preferring instead to foment racial and economic strife in the guise of justice. True justice puts God first. In the words of the psalmist: “Surely His salvation is nigh to them that fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth have met each other: justice and peace have kissed. Truth is sprung out of the earth: and justice hath looked down from heaven” (Psalm 84:10-12 DR).
Hence the influx across the border has changed in composition from that of true refugees and huddled masses to economic and “climate” migrants, opportunists, and criminals, all under the predatory watch of the human traffickers and cartels and criminal scavengers. That’s because ersatz compassion never says no in the mistaken belief that limitations are unfeeling and unloving. The influx across the border has changed from true refugees and huddled masses to economic and “climate” migrants, opportunists, and criminals, all under the predatory watch of the human traffickers and cartels and criminal scavengers.Tweet This
Drag Queen story hour? Sure. An eleven-year-old thinks he’s trapped in the wrong body? Help him! “Engaged” couples living together for seven years and with three children? Who am I to judge?! Entering the country under false pretenses or without going through the legal processes? What’s the big deal?! Fidelity (like punctuality) is a vestige of an earlier, privileged culture, right?
An objection is sometimes made that “Jesus was a refugee,” or that foreigners lived with the Israelites. I answer that the Holy Family resided in Egypt temporarily—they returned home when it was safe to do so. Furthermore, foreigners living among the Israelites were expected to abide by the rules, especially about God. In the time of the Judges, and also in the case of Solomon, dallying with foreign women still attached to their false gods led to Israel’s apostasy. That Old Testament ersatz compassion resulted in the breaking of Israel’s covenant with God. Justice meant the invasion Israel deserved and the dispersion of the tribes and cessation of Temple liturgies.
Today under the New Covenant, even in Holy Mother Church, ersatz compassion exercises its baneful effects. The examples of the exaltation of mercy while simultaneously downplaying tradition and justice are legion and have been well-documented by others. And so, to extend Dom Guéranger’s example beyond merely national boundaries, we might ask what invasion the Catholic Church is undergoing or can expect to experience. What does ersatz compassion inflicted on the Body of Christ deserve?
Unfortunately, “apparently a man can get used eventually to anything,” says the narrator of the eyewitness accounts of Nazi atrocities in Ukraine (Babi Yar, p. 376). The key is remembering a true ordering of values and the purpose of God’s chastisements. An unnamed peasant quoted in Anne Applebaum’s searing account of the Holodomor says: “When we believed in God we were happy and lived well. When they tried to do away with God, we became hungry” (p. 314).
Thankfully, God’s justice is a true justice grounded in love, designed to bring us back, not destroy us. As Blessed Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski writes in Love & Social Justice, “The enemy strikes to kill, while even when God strikes, He does so in order to revive someone, to bring him back to life” (p. 25).
Unless we—Americans and Catholics—reject a false, Christless compassion, we will continue to suffer the sting of God’s justice via the invasion we deserve.