I joked of ‘fortress U.S.A.’ in a text message as my travelling companion and I drove through the desolate countryside south of Winnipeg. On the return journey of a cross-Canada drive, we had decided to take the route partly through America, to save time, and see the southern shore of Lake Superior, whose rugged, hilly beauty, filled with breathtaking vistas of this freshwater sea, we had driven on the way out west.
I expected to see some wooden, hut-like border crossing, and was surprised when what appeared out of the landscape was a multi-million dollar chrome-and-steel structure. We stopped where we were supposed to, and my companion, who has never consciously crossed the border before (the last time was with his family as a five-year old) held the passports at the window of the car.
There is a phenomena called clericalism, wherein priests overemphasized their priestly authority in ways that were untoward, and ironically undermining of that very authority. Well, here we were on the receiving end of ‘police-ism’, for want of a better word. The border guard was not a police officer, nor were we under arrest, nor were we even suspect of any crime, but we were treated as such, rather than hopeful guests of our neighbours to the south. Things really reached a pitch when I reached for an apple I thought he wanted to me throw out. Grilled, taken inside, grilled again, the car searched.
Ah, well, I suppose a country has a right to defend its borders, but should there not be a limit, and a general sense of courtesy? The same could be said for those unfortunate enough to have to travel through customs at airports. How far do we go, and miserable do we become, to safeguard security?
While we’re on the topic of justice, it seems the courts in British Columbia will decide today on the fate of Winston Blackmore, who heads a breakaway Mormon group, where he describes himself as a ‘bishop’. According to one account, Mr. Blackmore has married 27 times and has sired 145 children.
There are numerous evils to polygamy, especially of this extreme variety (see my link to Mark Steyn’s piece on Saudi princelings, few of him reach Blackmore’s level of proflicity). Envy, jealousy, genetic inbreeding, destruction of family life, to say nothing of the souls of those involved, especially Blackmore’s. Not to judge, mind you, just to say that polygamy is an intrinsic evil, one that is exacerbated since its effects are visited upon one wife and children to the umpteenth generation.
I hope the justice system throws the book at Blackmore, and this insanity is stopped dead in its black tracks. But upon what philosophical premise can they do so? Now that they have permitted ‘same sex’ marriage, with marriage being all about the ‘fulfilment of the individual’, their desires, wants and proclivities, then, why not polygamy? Oh, perhaps they may limit the number of wives and children to pre-Blackmore levels, but that won’t do much, and the bar will always be raised, or lowered, as the case may be.
As the Church has always taught, once society undoes the theological underpinnings of law, founded on the Judeo-Christian revelation, then all hell quite literally breaks loose.
All we can hope is that some sanity prevails here, even if our benighted justices see some writing on the wall before it is too late.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the ascetic, chaste, humble example of today’s saint, Charbel Maklouf, who spent his life as a hermit in a monastery in Lebanon, a hidden life, praying and sacrificing for the world and for souls. Saint Charbel left no biological children behind, but rather a pure soul (and an incorrupt body), completely devoted to God, and a life was fruitful far beyond what our limited senses can tell us, the ‘hundred fold’ of which Christ speaks.
And speaking of holiness, the final stop on my cross-Canada travels was at the shrine of Blessed Vasyl Velychkofsky, a martyr for Christ under Soviet Communism. His life must be read to be believed, imprisoned numerous times in the depths of Siberia, forced labour in the mines, tortured with means only the KGB could devise, all the time standing fast against the evils of Communism, whose errors, Our Lady of Fatima predicted, would be spread around the world. Not all would be infected by those errors, and it is largely due to the saintliness and example of men like Bd. Vasyl that minds and souls have been and are being saved from its anti-Christian, erroneous, and even demonic philosophy. His incorrupt body lies encased in quiet and simple chapel, next to the beautiful Eastern-rite church. Well worth the pilgrimage to Winnipeg.
Finally, the Canadian Jesuits and a number of fellow travellers are re-creating the journey of the original missionaries and martyrs of Canada, Samuel de Champlain, Jean de Brebeuf and others, paddling from Martrys’ Shrine to Montreal on the Saint Lawrence River. Join them spiritually, as they make this rigorous trek, praying along the way. Say what you like about the Jesuits, and we could all say a few things, but I know more than a few young men, conservative and orthodox, recently ordained for this largest single Order in the Church, whose brave missionary spirit did much to found what we now know as ‘Canada’. Perhaps the Jesuits will indeed follow Pope John Paul’s advice to ‘become what you are’.
There are still saints in the world, and lesser souls like mine which, I hope, will continue to be held up by their example and intercession. So there is hope for Canada yet.