Was this Little Boy on the wrong side of history? Certainly, in one sense. At the time of Christ’s death, no one was interested in what he had to offer. Do you increasingly feel like you are on the wrong side of history? We are told that if we persist in Catholic doctrines things like marriage, human life, and the four last things (death, judgment, heaven, and hell—especially that last one), we will be left behind. We are told we’d best get on the right side of history or we could end up with some stiff fines or even jail time. When the Archbishop of San Francisco recently directed his high school teachers to adhere to Catholic teachings on marriage, eight state legislators complained that his standards “would be illegal for any other employer.” They encouraged him and all Catholics to get on the right side of history.
But let us refuse to be defensive. After all, we belong to the only institution that has outlived every other historical movement. All those all-powerful social phenomena, from the Roman Empire to the French Revolution to the Nazis to the Soviets: they seemed like such good ideas at the time. Their proponents declared them indisputable facts of history—conform, or be crushed, they told the Church. And they did steamroll over any who opposed them, and did hold undisputed sway over humanity, that is, until the money ran out. France’s Jacobins lasted two years, Germany’s National Socialists lasted six years, and Russia Soviets lasted 70 years. But eventually the money ran out, and people returned to the rational order of God’s natural law.
Yes, the Gospel has always been on the wrong side of history as viewed in the short-term. But we know, and can easily prove, that God is the Lord of history. You can’t deny human nature forever. Many can force us to say that men are women and women are men, but only until the money runs out. I can remember my first visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, scene of one of humanity’s worst nightmares. But the nightmare lasted only five years. Purple and yellow wildflowers now adorn those killing fields, and the Blessed Sacrament resides in the old SS guardhouse (now converted into “St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish”).
Don’t believe anyone who tells you that the Church is on the wrong side of history. We will all suffer in the short term from the insouciance of the powerful and the timidity of the weak. But history is God’s story, not ours. All time belongs to Him. Let’s try to keep our heads, even if it seems like everyone else has lost theirs. They will need the Church when the latest experiment in human engineering collapses, and we need to keep the Church clean and well-ordered for their return.