In these final hours before the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump surrenders himself to a prosecution team in New York, there are questions to be asked. Most of those answers will have to present themselves over the next weeks and months, as speculation at this unprecedented time is futile. Those in the country with a conservative bent, especially conservative Catholics, to ponder the circumstances surrounding the leading candidate for the 2024 GOP nomination. What lessons are to be gleaned?
Perhaps conservative Catholics should see this as a bell in the night. As the nation watches what happens to someone who takes a stand against the Deep State, one might conflate Trump’s indicters and the prevailing culture. The lesson of Trump is that anyone who threatens the status quo is to be snuffed out, or left in a gulag to be silenced and forgotten. When Christians worldwide recall Our Lord’s Passion during this Holy Week, it is presumptuous and arguably sacrilegious to hold up the flawed former president as a Messianic figure. But it is appropriate to ask ourselves if we are prepared to follow where he is going.
Following Christ’s Example
Recall how Christ admonished His Apostles: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first” (John 15:18). Christ universally calls us to endure the tension between the world and those who would be His followers. Trump has stumbled uncontrollably into becoming an example of how the Christian conducts himself. The Catholic must be as brave. Despite what may come, isolation and loss of stature, is our calling different? In the extreme case, our lives may even be endangered, to the point of being targeted, as were the souls of those six Christians in that school in Nashville. The culture, or in Christ’s words, the world, will try to silence or destroy us. But we are called to withstand this persecution, confident in His words, “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world” (John 16:33).
The world has gone mad, to the point where a person questioning the most outrageous concepts, including those that mock Creation itself, will receive calls to acquiesce to a drooling mob. In this mob, even heretofore allies can quickly become branded heretical. Look no further than the case of JK Rowling, the wealthy author of the Harry Potter series of books. Despite near-perfect compliance with the agenda of the modern Leftist, her objection to Transgender Ideology has led to vitriolic attacks on Twitter and online, where she is lambasted as transphobic and bigoted. To stay in their good graces, her critics demand that she disfigure herself with “the leprosy of unreality,” as Dickens put it.
Courage in the Face of a Mad World
Returning to the example of Trump, recall that for the first six or seven decades of his life, this man was part of an elite crowd. He enjoyed the trappings of his success and engaged with many of the same Fifth Avenue and K Street power brokers who now hunt him. They tolerated him because of his wealth and popularity. Celebrity has always been attracted to political power and vice versa. Over the years, as a Reform Party Candidate, and ultimately as a Republican, Trump formed his ideas, most of which were repugnant to his old friends. From the time he announced his candidacy, and as his populist movement formed and gained popularity, the knives emerged. As he challenged the globalist – Davos – World Economic Forum crowd, as he talked about immigration and threatened to expose the establishment’s corruption, he became an outright target of those friends, ensconced in the world, who now compare him to Nazis. Trump’s felony offense, however, the culmination of which worked the Left into a frenzy, was his systematic deconstruction of abortion access through the nominations of Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Coney Barrett. Even after his 2020 election defeat, that the Trump Court reversed Roe ensures that he will never be forgiven for his mortal sin and that the establishment desires nothing less than to make an example of him.
Trump detractors believe his cautionary tale will discourage us. But to the contrary, it is precisely our calling to do similar work, albeit at a different level. We must motivate ourselves to be as brave a warrior. As Catholics, have we the courage to call out rogue clerics? Or to contend for positions on local school boards when they place pornography in school libraries? Will we go to Mass? Will we be fathers to our sons and fearless examples of our Faith even in the public square? This path requires sacrifice and allows for righteous anger. If we are Religious, will we instruct our congregations fearlessly about immutable truths? More than rioting or protesting, this is what tradition-minded Catholics are called to do. The lesson to be learned from the Trump indictment is that the fight is on. If we emerge from our corner, the impulse will be to think that the world has begun to hate us, but the secret is that it already does. The enemy has been waging this battle for a while, and even if we have arrived late to the arena, it is clear that the time to fight the good fight is at hand.
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