The Red and Lowering Sky

"And in the morning: Today there will be a storm, for the sky is red and lowering. You know then how to discern the face of the sky: and can you not know the signs of the times? " Matthew 16:3

Some years back, I was the IT manager for a large company. We were moving the datacenter to Long Island. In the course of doing my due diligence, I discovered that both of our datacenter network access providers, while providing completely divergent network infrastructure to our datacenter, routed their traffic through the same building in lower Manhattan near the World Trade Center. Meaning, if this facility experienced a significant problem, all access to my company’s datacenter would be lost. That could be catastrophic to our business.

I asked my network guys to have the path changed to access a different point-of-presence that the provider had in midtown. But they got busy and this was neglected for a while. I followed up a few times, but wasn't really seeing any progress.

So I called a meeting of the network staff and explained the criticality and the risk involved in this and that we needed to move now to get this done. I remember exactly what I said to them next and in a moment you will understand why. I said, “Guys, I need this done. If terrorists decide to blow up the World Trade Center again, we will be dead in the water. I want it moved now.”

And so it was that they got to work on it and got it done. I remember the date I received confirmation that the one network path had been changed. As it turned out, it was finally moved on Friday September 7, 2001. Just 4 days later, the telecom facility was badly damaged as the World Trade Center came falling down.

I remember standing in my office as we watched the horror unfold on TV, a network engineer named John walked up and stood next to me and said, “Patrick, the FBI should be talking to you!! How did you know?”

The truth is, I didn't know. But I could see the risk and I prepared for it. They tried before.  It made sense they might try again. The circuit that went through the damaged facility was down almost four months. If I hadn't insisted that the other circuit be moved, my company would have had a catastrophic failure that would have devastated the company and cost countless jobs, starting with my own.

Now, as horrible as that time was for everybody who lives in this area, at least the employees of my company were spared this added insult to terrible injury. But they never knew about it and none of them ever thanked me for it and none was necessary. After all, I was just doing my job. I saw the risk, I took it seriously, and I did what needed to be done. Nothing miraculous about it on its face, but nonetheless, in retrospect, I still find it amazing.

I was thinking about this as I have been contemplating our current situation, not at my job, but in the Church and in the world. I look at what they tried to do at Synod Part I. It makes sense they will try again. I read the brazen comments of Cardinals Baldisseri, Marx, and Kasper and then I look to they sky. The synod is not the only sign that “from some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.” The sky is red and lowering.  It does not take a mystic to see a storm may be coming. 

So now we must engage in the thankless job of making as many people as possible aware of the risk. Many people, maybe even most people, cannot see it.  Many others will get angry. Still, we must prepare every willing heart and open mind to resist any change that undermines the doctrine of the Church. We must remind everyone that there can never be division between doctrine and practice. That truth is a prerequisite to the pastoral. We must storm heaven with prayer. 

This is worse than a thankless job. If you look fairly at those few voices who correctly saw the peril for the Church in the early post-conciliar era, you see what happens to those with the clearest and furthest vision. They are generally less than appreciated in their own times. It is truly taking up your cross. See Cardinal Burke.

The risks of the synod and mad post-conciliar-redux are becoming clearer every day to those who read the signs of the times. Runaway secularism and modernism threaten the Church and the world. We must raise our voices even though our fate will likely not be any more grand that those few who raised their voices 50 years ago.

Back in 2001, I wasn't able to prevent disaster, but in my very small way, I was able to prevent the aftermath from being worse for a few people. We may help many people, people we will never know, people who will never know that we helped them. But that is okay. By God’s grace, we saw the crisis coming and we did our best.