When I was growing up, it didn’t happen very often, but every time there was a tornado warning, my dad would go outside and look toward the horizon where the tornado was supposed to be coming from. He wanted to see with his own eyes whether a funnel cloud was coming toward our house. There were a couple of occasions when everyone in our family went downstairs and stayed in the basement until it was safe to come up.
Of course, after I grew up and had a family of my own, I did the same thing my dad did. I told my wife and children to go downstairs while I stepped outside to look for the tornado. I don’t know why there is a desire for some people to actually see a tornado coming toward them. It may be curiosity, disbelief, or a sense of adventure. Or it may be a combination of all three: curiosity, disbelief, and adventure.
A tornado doesn’t ordinarily sneak up on you. There are usually signs that it’s on the way, such as darkness, fierce rain or hail, a sudden calmness in the air, or a loud roar that sounds like a freight train. Each of those signs acts as a warning that immediate action needs to be taken to protect yourself and your family.
For a while now, there have been signs that a terrible storm is at the doorstep of our nation — a storm that is likely to inflict significant damage to the people and families of our country. The signs are all over the place. Politico.com recently reported that 71% of the people in our country think that the United States is headed in the wrong direction. The Associated Press reported that 40% of the people believe that our democratic system no longer works. One of the most troubling statistics came from Engagious.com, which reported that 61% of the people in our nation believe that we are on the verge of a civil war, and 52% are stockpiling food and supplies.
These statistics are all a consequence of our deteriorating social, cultural, and economic condition. But there are other signs that a terrible storm is on the horizon. Those signs are associated with the significant moral decline of our country. The demonstrations and riots that took place last summer and may be back just in time for the inauguration of President Biden are an indication of the breakdown of our civil society and the lack of virtue that exists among many of our citizens.
But our problems didn’t just start within the past year. We are only two years away from the 50-year anniversary of the legalization of the killing of millions of our nation’s unborn children. In a nutshell, the legalization of abortion occurred because the seven godless men on the U.S. Supreme Court gave permission to women to use abortion as a final and deadly form of birth control.
From a moral standpoint, abortion was only the tip of the iceberg.
Today, anyone who wants to indulge in pornography can easily do so by opening an app on their phone or by accessing a pornographic website on their phone. Premarital sex and fornication went mainstream years ago and are so widespread that a majority of Catholic couples live together before they get married.
Our public school system now promotes and encourages young girls and boys to question their gender and sexuality. This new form of depravity has gotten so bad that boys and men are now allowed to declare that they are girls and women, which allows them to compete in female sporting events where they obviously have a huge physical advantage over their female competitors.
If I were a person of influence and I wrote that last paragraph in a Twitter or Facebook message, there is a good chance that I would be sanctioned or banned from both of those social media platforms. If I kept writing about the immorality that exists in our society, I would also likely receive notifications of cancellation and banishment from various other global corporate entities who have become so evil and bold that they have no problem destroying the reputations and economic opportunities of people who do not share or abide by their evil beliefs and behavior.
The most dangerous pandemic that we are facing is not the COVID-19 virus. It’s the silencing and eradication of Christians, their teachings, their history, and the virtuous beliefs and behavior that have benefited mankind for more than 2000 years.
While I have only scratched the surface of the evils that plague our country, any rational, God-fearing person can clearly see the signs of the catastrophic storm that is coming our way. The problem we have is that we cannot simply retreat to a basement and wait until the storm passes over us. We have children, grandchildren, and other people that we care about who have either been infected by the licentiousness and depravity that has saturated our society, or they are in grave danger of being overwhelmed and controlled by it.
So what can we do to guard against the damage and destruction that is taking place all around us?
There is an event that was documented in the New Testament of the Bible that most of us are familiar with. It occurred after Jesus had selected his apostles and gave them the power to expel demons. A man brought his son to Jesus and told Jesus that his boy was possessed by an evil spirit who had robbed the boy of his speech. The man also told our Lord that the evil spirit would throw the boy to the ground, at which point the boy’s body would become rigid, and he would foam at the mouth and gnash his teeth.
The man complained to Jesus that none of His disciples were able to drive out the evil spirit. When Jesus asked the man how long his son had suffered under the control of the evil spirit, the man said that it had been occurring since the boy was a child. He said that the evil spirit would frequently throw the boy into fire or water in an attempt to kill him. St. Mark described what Jesus did after the man asked our Lord to help his son:
When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!” After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand.
When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “This kind can come out only through prayer.” Mark 9:25-29.
Here’s what St. Matthew had to say about what happened after Jesus expelled the evil spirit from the boy:
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:19-21.
What I am about to point out to you will shock you, but before I get to what I want to tell you, I need to give you some background information.
Both of the above-mentioned quotes — the one from the Gospel of Mark and the one from the Gospel of Matthew — were taken from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, which was published in 1989 by an ecumenical translation committee that was acting under the authority of the National Council of Churches in Christ U.S.A. The newly published Catholic Bible was approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1991.
St. Mark’s version of what happened states that our Lord said that the type of evil spirit who had taken control of the boy could only be cast out “through prayer.” St. Matthew’s version of what happened focused on the importance of the degree of faith that the disciples had to have to cast out the evil spirit. Nothing was said about the importance of prayer.
I need for you to pay close attention to what I’m going to say next.
When Jesus answered the disciples’ question, He gave them a formula that they needed to use to cast out evil spirits. The translators who were responsible for writing the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, which has been in widespread use by Catholics since the early 1990s, left out half of our Lord’s original formula for casting out evil spirits.
The original translation of the bible from the Latin Vulgate version into an English version was performed by Members of the Catholic seminary English College in Douai, France. Their translation became the foundation on which nearly all English Catholic bibles were based. They published the New Testament with extensive commentary and notes in Reims, France, in 1582. The Old Testament was published in two volumes in 1609 and 1610 by the University of Douai. The version of the English Catholic Bible they published was known as the Douay-Rheims Bible. The American version of the Douay-Rheims Bible was published more than 250 years later and was known as the Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition.
Here’s what St. Mark wrote, according to the Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition:
And when he was come into the house, his disciples secretly asked him: Why could not we cast him out? And he said to them: This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. Mark 9:27-28. (Emphasis Added)
Here’s what St. Matthew wrote, according to the Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition:
Then came the disciples to Jesus secretly, and said: Why could not we cast him out? Jesus said to them: Because of your unbelief. For, amen I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove from hence hither, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you. But this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting. Matthew 17:18-20. (Emphasis Added)
So here’s my question: Why did the translation committee for the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition leave out half of the formula that St. Mark said Jesus gave to his disciples for casting out evil spirits? And why did the translation committee remove the entire formula of prayer and fasting from what St. Matthew had written?
If it’s not documented in the Catholic Bible what our Lord’s formula is for casting out evil, how are we supposed to know that prayer must be accompanied by fasting before we can eliminate the significant evils that plague our people and our nation?
Why did the translators leave the fasting part out of our Savior’s formula for eliminating evil? My only conclusion is that they discussed it and intentionally eliminated it because they thought they knew better than our Savior what was best for us.
More on this topic next week.