You know what it's like when someone goes on at you a bit to read a book. It can easily become something you'll say you'll do, while putting off for as long as possible actually doing it.
I don't know when OTSOTA began to talk about Lord Of The World, by Mgr R H Benson, and about Pope Francis' reading of it. I just knew I'd read it a while ago and it was nowhere near top of my "books to be reread" list. But Paul kept dropping it into posts and tweets, not saying anything about me reading it again, but, consciously or unconsciously, doing a Chinese water torture on me so that, faced with a transatlantic flight, and the long, long, afternoon of the London to the East Coast flight, I resolved to reread it.
The first thing to shock me was how long ago it must be since I read it, probably at the time when I read much of RHB's works. The second was that, insofar as I had remembered it, it was as a science fiction novel in the style of HG Wells. It isn't.
It is a prophetic novel: it is written about the Last Things, the End of the World, the final attempt by the Devil to defeat God and become Lord of this world. That's not to say that the time is nigh: nobody knows the day or the hour. But what he describes in prophetic detail is the manner in which the Devil would twist the social impulses of the beginning of the democratic age into a world fit for him, and not for God.
The surrender of non-Catholic churches to the Zeitgeist; the increasing hostility, and then the militant opposition of atheists to all that the Church represents; the corrosion of the Church from within; the apathy of Catholics which leads to loss of Faith: RHB describes our world.
It continues to disturb me, as, obviously, it does the Pope. When the focus of Humanism becomes Man, instead of man formed in God's image and likeness; when the subjective "what suits me" replaces "what is my duty"; when loyalty to the Church and its beliefs can be portrayed as treason towards what the majority of people believe in, and therefore what is right to believe; this is the work of the Lord of the World.
The attack by the UN on the Church, made possible by very bad people allowing the Devil to penetrate the Church itself, is a call to arms, as well as a call to prayer, fasting and repentance. These may or may not be the Last Times: prepare as though they are; prepare as though they aren't. But the Devil is making great strides, in the Old World at least, and it is hard to see how in the rest of my life I am not going to see the Church, as I have known Her, disappear from any part of the life of nearly everybody I will meet. And it is our duty to fight it, whatever the cost.
The book won't be for everyone, but I'm glad OTSOTA nagged me to rereading it. Have a think about the last time you had heard a cleric below the rank of Pope refer, in your hearing, and not during a recital of the baptismal promises, to the Devil; and wonder why.