Day 7: Testing, Testing

Apparently last night at the Golden Globes, actor Christian Bale thanked Satan for helping him prepare for the role of Dick Cheney in the movie Vice. I haven’t seen the movie and I don’t plan to (I’m pretty sure I get the gist of it, especially from Bale’s comment), but it does make you wonder about our obsession with extreme name-calling.

Take the term Nazi. If you spend any time learning about Hitler and the Holocaust, you understand it takes a special kind of evil to be a Nazi. Nevertheless, we’re eager to slap the moniker on some modern-day politicians without a whole lot of evidence to back it up. (And, hopefully, we don’t ever get to the point where we can easily label someone a Hitler-esque Nazi.)

I’m guilty of extreme name-calling. Sad to say, but I’ve been known to refer to more than one person who exhibits mean tendencies as the antichrist. It gets a laugh, which is probably why I’ve said it more than once. But do I really know anyone who truly can be considered the antichrist? I hope not.

If you read today’s passage from John, though, the antichrist is here, walking among us. And we’re supposed to be on the lookout.

“but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God,
because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

How are we supposed to figure out who these bad spirits are?

“Every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh
belongs to God,
and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus
does not belong to God.
This is the spirit of the antichrist.”

Could anything be harder today? So many people speak in the name of God and of Jesus, but a lot of them are saying different things. Who to believe? You could try to play it safe and say that since the Catholic Church is, by most accounts, the oldest existing Christian religion, everything it says is right and anything that differs is the antichrist. But is that fair? And what about factions within the Church? One group may insist that this is wrong and that is okay, while the other says just the opposite. It’s all a little overwhelming. At least for me.

The priest at the cathedral suggests studying the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius. Have you ever looked at his spiritual exercises? They are pretty intense and not accomplished overnight. In other words, this is not a cut-and-dry assignment. If you’re going to figure out who/what is the antichrist, you’re going to have to do a whole lot of reflecting and discerning. Anybody up for the challenge?

In other news, today I lit a candle in front of the statue of St. Anthony. He is my guy. It is not unusual for me to evoke his name at least three times a month and, as I get older, that will likely increase. I lose things on a regular basis, and St. Anthony has always helped me find them. I figure there are people in the world who are looking for much more important things than their glasses or the car keys, so I’m lighting a candle for them with the hope they find whatever it is they need.

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