Steve Taylor Arts
In the night of 2020, where national and global events mounted an inescapable challenge to faith and people of faith on almost every side, the prophecy of Fr. Michael Scanlan (1931–2017), published in March 1976, appears to draw ever near:
Son of man, do you see that city going bankrupt? Are you willing to see all your cities going bankrupt? Are you willing to see the bankruptcy of the whole economic system you rely on now so that all money is worthless and cannot support you?
Son of man, do you see the crime and lawlessness in your city streets, and towns, and institutions? Are you willing to see no law, no order, no protection for you except that which I Myself will give you?
Son of man, do you see the country which you love and which you are now  celebrating – a country’s history that you look back on with nostalgia? Are you willing to see no country – no country to call your own except those I give you as My body? Will you let Me bring you life in My body and only there?
Son of man, do you see those churches which you can go to so easily now? Are you ready to see them with bars across their doors, with doors nailed shut? Are you ready to base your life only on Me and not on any particular structure? Are you ready to depend only on Me and not on all the institutions of schools and parishes that you are working so hard to foster?
Son of man, I call you to be ready for that. That is what I am telling you about. The structures are falling and changing – it is not for you to know the details now – but do not rely on them as you have been. I want you to make a deeper commitment to one another. I want you to trust one another, to build an interdependence that is based on My Spirit. It is an interdependence that is no luxury. It is an absolute necessity for those who will base their lives on Me and not the structures from a pagan world. I have spoken and it will take place. My word will go forth to my people. They may hear and they may not – and I will respond accordingly – but this is My word.
Look about you, son of man. When you see it all shut down, when you see everything removed which has been taken for granted, and when you are prepared to live without these things, then you will know what I am making ready.
Faith and Night is a consolation from Jesus. To see it is to see a symbol of a soul with faith, at midnight, in piercing cold, as when the Son of Man came to earth as intervention. Faith surrounded with serenity despite the world’s dark night. Faith touched and fortified by a ray from Heaven. Faith that glorifies and worships God with outstretched boughs full and healthy. Faith that stands strong, safe, in rectitude, a witness of God’s grace, care, and protection for the soul.
The splendid mature Arbor Vitae (Tree of Life) is a symbol twin, Christ. Jesus is the chiasmus of Heaven and earth, the Living Tree, the eternal Cross which fruits Life Uninterruptible.
To see the majestic silence Tree, at once soul and savior, is to see what Catholicism calls Holy Communion. Jesus is Man and God, who by His Infinite Offering of Perfection, gives man this same chance for intertwining humanity and divinity. It is a vision of a soul living in the Divine Will. God makes His dwelling with His creature, giving substance to all of their acts and words by doing them and speaking them Himself. They no longer live, but Christ lives in them, animating their flesh with supreme substance. It is bliss – and also holy pain, as contemplated in the cold white that mantles the tree. To become one with Christ, by His pleasure and election, is to live in His continuous offering of atonement suffering to liberate others.
The Church is depicted in the scene at a distance, marginalized as She is more and more today. The emphasis shifts to the soul and to souls, who instead of relying on the material shelter of the Catholic polis, must more chiefly seek the support and guidance of Christ directly. This is the communication of the picture: have faith in kind, as Jesus recites in Fr. Scanlan’s prophecy above:
“Are you ready to base your life only on Me and not on any particular structure? Are you ready to depend only on Me and not on all the institutions of schools and parishes that you are working so hard to foster?”
Let not your faith in human institutions, systems, or other earthly things supersede your faith in God. Even when these things are not available to us, God always is – nothing can separate us from the love of God. Encourage and reassure one another, and be undeterred by the necessities of masks, closings, lockdowns, and other disruptions and challenges imposed by a pandemic.
Jesus spoke to them once again:
“I am the light of the world.
No follower of mine shall ever walk in darkness;
no, he shall possess the light of life.”
— John 8:12
Even when times are dark – especially when times are dark – have faith in the light!