Lately I've begun again listening to audio books. For quite a while I left the genre alone, preferring silence. But there are so many books that contain information I want to access, but there is no way I am going to devote my precious contemplative reading time to books I do not anticipate taking notes from. So out comes the CD player, tucked into one of those (free) string backpacks while I do laundry, chop veggies, and so forth. This week I have been listening to Salvation Is from the Jews. The author devotes a great deal of space to a study of the occult thought behind the Nazi race-based religion and its practices. It is truly frightening. I knew that the Nazi's were promoting a pagan Germanic cult, but had no idea that it was simply occultism in Teutonic garb. One very early occult practitioner, the one who initiated Hitler into the dark mysteries in the early 20's, even boasted that through Hitler, he would alter the course of history.
What stopped that from happening? How was this evil overcome?
Then comes today's anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, a kind of symbol of the beginning of the French Revolution. (Personally, when I think "French Revolution," I do not think "Liberté, égalité, fraternité" so much as I do guillotines and murderous chaos.) The French Revolution saw itself as taking inspiration from the American uprising not two decades earlier. I'm sure our own Revolutionary War had its share of mayhem and unrighteousness. (Washington's Christmas attack on the Hessians was not exactly gentlemanly.) But this revolution was different. So different it soon acquired a nickname (the Terror) that showed little hope that the insanity would end any time soon.
What stopped the bloodshed?
Could it be a sign of the power of the martyrs? The French Revolution alone accounts for hundreds of martyrs, of whom about 80 have been beatified. Most prominent among these are the Carmelites of Compiegne, who offered their lives to God specifically "to quell the Terror" (the title of a book that details their whole story). Ten days after the sixteen nuns were guillotined, the Terror abruptly ended.
Was the defeat of the Nazi's and the end of the Holocaust also due to the self-surrender in faith of so many of its victims? That's what I'm thinking. Many of the Jews went to their deaths with the words of the Psalms on their lips. Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta) told her sister, when arrest was imminent, "Let us go, for our people."
All the power of the underworld is helpless before that kind of gift of self to the Lordship of God.
That's what I can celebrate on Bastille Day.