It is an all too human way of thinking for man to seek human answers to problems that are ultimately spiritual in nature. In the pro-life movement, it’s often said that law-makers must be prudent in their votes and the bills they propose, and not to go for anything too extreme, because such measures may fail. It’s this kind of thinking that consistently leads to so-called pro-life legislation containing exceptions clauses for cases of rape, incest, or health/life of the mother. In other circles, self-proclaimed “conservative” legislators loudly complain that Barack Obama is illegally usurping powers that do not belong to the presidency. However, these same legislators refuse to officially charge him with criminal actions because, they say, “the time isn’t right,” or “it will never work.”
The truth is, now is always the right time to do the right thing, regardless of whether or not you believe you will or even can succeed. This is the philosophy of the Lepanto Institute. In fact, this is the very meaning of the logo itself. In a line: Ours is not a God of results, but a God of fidelity! Nowhere in all of Sacred Scripture has Our Blessed Lord EVER demanded that we succeed in anything. Our Lord summed up the entire law thusly, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39) In the Gospel of John, Our Blessed Lord summed up His command this way, “love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:12-13) There isn’t even a mention of results in any of this. In fact, when taken at face value, according to these words of Our Lord, victory in the next life looks like defeat in this one.
Man’s pride leads him to do only what will bring about a perceived victory. If St. Paul had done that, the Church would never have had one of the greatest witnesses to the celestial and terrestrial anomalies related to the Our Lord’s Death on the Cross.
In the book of Acts, chapter 17, St. Paul relates that he went to Athens to convert the people there, “as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’ What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you.” Though he debated fiercely with the Athenians in the synagogue, and in the pagan Areopagus, Paul did not convert Athens. He didn’t even come close. In fact, the end of the 17th chapter of Acts says:
When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some began to scoff, but others said, “We should like to hear you on this some other time.”
And so Paul left them.
But some did join him, and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Court of the Areopagus, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
But that’s not the end of the story. Dionysius, the first Bishop of Athens, was the one (according to legend) who instructed that the monument to an unknown god be erected. This is the story behind the monument.
Dionysius was an astronomer who observed an eclipse on a day that there should not have been an eclipse. He wrote to a colleague who confirmed that not only was there an eclipse on that day, but there was also an earthquake and on the same day, none of the stars could be observed in Egypt, despite the fact that there were no clouds.
Taking all of this into account, Dionysius concluded that whatever the cause, these events must have been done by some unknown god who was greater than the gods of the sky and the gods of the earth. So, as legend indicates, it was for this reason that Dionysius had the monument to an unknown god created.
What Dionysius did not realize at the time, but learned from St. Paul (and in fact became the cause of his conversion) is that the eclipse, the earthquake and the invisibility of the stars all took place on the same day Our Blessed Lord was crucified, died, and was buried.
This witness of Dionysius is a great testimony to the events of the day of the Crucifixion because it comes from an objective source. Dionysius was a pagan at the time of his observations, and we would not have his testimony, had St. Paul not tried to convert Athens.
And St. Paul failed at converting Athens. More to the point, Acts 17:16 says, “While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he grew exasperated at the sight of the city full of idols.” Can you imagine the loss to the Church if St. Paul had thrown up his hands and said, “now is not the time?” Or if St. Paul had decided to water down his message in order to gain more converts?
It was St. Paul’s fidelity to God’s mandate to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
This is all that matters. Our fidelity to God means victory in Heaven, regardless of how many or how few we save here on earth. Individually, we are called to obedience. Victory and glory belong to the Son of God.