A few years back, Jim Caviezel spoke at a number of venues to discuss his new movie, Paul, Apostle of Christ. Rather than shying away from his Christianity or attempting to filter his words through the lens of pop culture's censorship, he passionately urged his listeners to become "proud warriors, animated by their faith" in fighting, and even dying, for the preservation of human freedom.
When he spoke of freedom, he was clear to articulate that God's gift to His children is not the freedom to do recklessly whatever we wish, but rather the freedom to choose wisely how we ought to act in pursuit of moral lives. He answered Maximilian Kolbe's trenchant observation that "indifference is the greatest sin" by charging every listener to "fight for that authentic freedom" that requires us to live courageously. "And with the Holy Spirit as your shield and Christ as your sword, may you join St. Michael and all the angels in sending Lucifer and all his henchmen straight back to hell where they belong!"
It is sadly rare these days to hear such moral clarity, particularly from any kind of public figure, who makes himself a target by refusing to conform to our culture's secular and pagan fascinations. Caviezel has not been seduced by the lie that "good" and "evil" are relative concepts determined by man and man alone. He knows that the opposite is true. There absolutely is "good" worth defending to our last breaths. There absolutely is "evil" that requires us to fight until we can fight no longer. And because the world is right now blinded by wickedness and corruption, those of us who are still free to see truth must work tirelessly to free those around us, too. "There was a lot of pain and suffering before the resurrection," Caviezel reminded listeners, "and your path will be no different."
Your path will be no different. What a tremendously difficult truth to accept. How daunting a reality placed before us. Yet what an opportunity.
Caviezel's words are in my head not just because of the liturgical calendar, but because the attacks on freedom in America since he delivered those words have only accelerated at a pace many Americans once deemed not possible.
It is no easy thing to watch the nation's political custodians destroy America by rejecting her foundations. It is not easy to watch millions of American citizens timidly obey politicians' demands that they destroy their own livelihoods and consent to house arrest in the name of a virus. It is not easy to watch members of Congress join tech monopolists and news anchors in aggressively targeting speech they dislike. It is not easy to watch the Second Amendment under attack by a president who was put into office by, as one Time writer admitted candidly, a "secret cabal of wealthy and politically connected elites" who conspired "to manipulate the rules and laws of an election in order to win." It is not easy to watch domestic intelligence services willfully ignore the violence of Antifa terrorists while aggressively arresting and prosecuting Americans for agreeing with Time that the election was won illegitimately. It is not easy to watch the Supreme Court prove that it is irredeemably compromised by refusing to consider election lawsuits that might expose how corrupt America's elections have become. And it is certainly not easy to listen to Republicans like Liz Cheney reinforce Democrats' fever-pitched lies that "white supremacy," a blood libel rhetorically identical to Hitler's obsession with Jewish supremacy a century ago, is at the root of all our nation's problems. It is tempting and entirely understandable to feel overwhelmed by the madness unfolding in America daily.
Yet what an opportunity to stand courageously for truth.
In contemplating Paul's conversion from a notorious hunter of Christians to a devout follower of Jesus Christ, Caviezel also reflected on the significance of the apostle's name. Before disappearing into the desert and suffering blindness, he was Saul; after comprehending the truth of the Holy Spirit and finding sight, he became Paul. "The name Saul means 'great one.' The name Paul means 'little one,'" Caviezel noted. By "changing one little, tiny letter ... we can become great in the eyes of God. But it requires us to be little if we wish to be great. This is the way of the saints."
This is the way of the saints. What a magnificent and revealing truth. We live in an age of megaphones. Anybody with a computer connection can become a star on YouTube. Anybody willing to collect "friends" on Facebook or Twitter can become famously popular overnight. Anybody willing to stoop low enough or submit completely enough to the cultural excesses of the day can claim more "followers" than Alexander the Great or Caesar Augustus ever had. And anyone who sufficiently bows down to the pressures of political correctness can be rewarded generously by the same political players who insist on determining what is "correct" for everyone else. We live in a time when noise is mistaken for wisdom and "likes" are mistaken for authenticity. Yet the whole artificial structure requires so much conformity to survive that the smallest voice of opposition becomes a threat.
Why is the "land of the free" so afraid of free speech? Why is the U.S. military more concerned with spreading intersectional Marxism and purging Trump voters among its ranks than completing wars that have endured for decades? Why can't Americans question an election without being called terrorists by their government? Why does a company as powerful as Amazon feel threatened by a single book questioning transgenderism? Why must a company as dominant as Google insist on banning interviews with President Trump in order to keep control of the "narrative"? Why must companies with universal name brand recognition such as Disney and Coca-Cola still bow down before false woke gods by firing actresses who question "cancel culture" and subjecting employees to racial indoctrination? Why must abortion enthusiasts hide the slaughter of babies by calling it "women's health"?
Perhaps it is because truth, no matter how small it is made to look, is too impressive when not endlessly threatened and controlled by those who wish to distort it. Perhaps that is why the same people in power spend all of their time demonizing the people with no power at all. Perhaps people with no power but who refuse to betray or relinquish truth for temporary comforts will find that they are more powerful than they know. Perhaps those Americans now made to feel little will remember that humility and courage are the siblings of greatness.
It's as Caviezel pleaded with his audience a few years back: "Set yourself apart from this corrupt generation."
Hat tip to Mr. Caviezel, whose entire speech should be seen and message absorbed.