Sea Beast and She who Rides

Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice, as it flew in midheaven, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets which the three angels are about to blow!”
Revelation 8:13

I confess this Election Cycle has me down. I don’t vote and I have not since 1982. I’ve been of the opinion that lesser of two evils is a sucky way to run things. But I’ve been watching and I’ve watched new messiahs rise up on the left and on the right and, in all cases, the messiah rises and the higher they rise, the harder they fall. I wonder that no one notices the pattern, or how it is that things only tend to go from bad to worse. How can people who claim to want XYZ can send a politician into a job, and not only get no XYZ but, in fact, get a whole lot of not-XYZ and rejoice? Not-XYZ was what we really wanted! Or, more often, they will produce charts showing that Not-XYZ is really XYZ.

But something about this one feels downright wrong. The whole system seems to say “You want XYZ but I’m going to ram Not-XYZ down your throat and you are going to like it. A lot.” I’m hearing that from all sides, the liberals, the conservatives, the indies: it’s like one huge ponzi scheme. There’s rabble. There’s pitchforks. There’s firebombing. It feels like we’re descending into the chaos we in the USA have often generated in other parts of the world… but that we’re doing it to ourselves. I don’t think we need too much help, although I’ve heard claims the Russians are ruining this one. If by ruining, you mean “letting all the dirt out” then yeah, ok. So then the trumpets come from Revelation. It can feel like we’re dealing with the Sea Beast with Ten Heads and She Who Rides on his Back…

That’s when the purpose of Revelation comes in. Over and over it says, “Yes, things are going to suck, and not your normal I didn’t pass my driving test and the prom is tomorrow suck, either, but more like human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria suck.” And when things get to the totally most suckiest, God will be glorified.

But God is not often glorified the way we want. In fact, God is glorified in our lives, and in their ending we make ourselves most like his son: and then he is fully glorified.

To be honest this election scares me. I know some folks, partisans, will say that other person is evil, this person is ok. But I don’t think so at all. In fact, for faithful Orthodox and Catholic folks, at least, and I would imagine a few other religious folks an intolerant dictator on the left or on the right makes no nevermind. The church, up and down this hemisphere, has suffered persecution from the left and from the right. In a few places the Church “got in bed” with a dictator, but in almost all places it was the state feeling mighty rejected by the Church, pulling out her guns and popping the Bride of Christ in the head. From the Left in Cuba, from the Right in El Salvador, from the Center (with American support) in Mexico: the church has been shot at, hanged, stabbed, imprisoned, starved, divested, and in every way trampled under the feet of the state. If it has not yet been the Orthodox Church it is because she’s not big enough to be on anyone’s radar.

But Revelation is right: things will get pretty durn sucky long before they get better.

On Sunday Pope Francis canonized two martyrs (among others). Both were killed by secularist regimes that claim to have no official religion – although we well know that secular humanism is a religion in its own right. One was killed in France following the Revolution – from the Left. The other was killed in Mexico – from the Center, with American support.

I think we have much to learn from these Martyrs as we do from those called the “New Martyrs” of Russia – those slain under the Communist yoke. In fact, nearly all the martyrs of the last century or two were killed by “respectable” governments, those recognized by the other governments of the world as legitimate. Most of them were acting within their rights. None of them were invaded by “international peacekeepers” for the crimes they committed.

I think we, faithful and (o)rthodox Christians in America, have only a choice to make, next week, between which side of the spectrum the firing squad will stand on. Beyond that, we have to glorify God.

Here, from the movie, For Greater Glory is the martyrdom of St Jose Sanchez del Rio – his icon is at the top of this post. It’s a French version of the film, sorry: I couldn’t find an English clip on YeTubez. Before the scene we’re about to see, the tortures demanded he deny Christ. And when he responded with Viva Christa Rey! (Long live Christ the King!) they gashed his feet before making him walk through the town. The only thing you need to know, I think, is right at the end, looking at his mother, he says, again, those words.

And so God is glorified. If we have the Beast from the Sea and She who Rides on his back, let’s not worry about that. In fact, if that’s who we got here then Glory to God: this whole thing is almost over. But, it could still suck, even if we just have dim foreshadows of a far distant event. I think it will suck. I keep praying I’m wrong. But I see no evidence of being wrong yet.

May we all glorify God in our lives and in our deaths.

And may St Jose pray for us!

Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

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