‘You are a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress…shade for the heat.’ (Is. 25:4)

Just returned from a brief blistering trip to California: 103 degrees in a beach town, the sky poisoned orange as fires seared nearby mountains. Gov. Newsom’s lockdown of the entire state is taking its toll: fear in some faces, lust in others, hungry-eyed exiles looking for sensual connection amid nature’s revolt.

Maybe it was just me, caught in the firestorm and taunted by restless, familiar demons. Or maybe it was the fall-out from the CA legislature which just passed SB 145—a bill extending legal protection over LGBT teens (14-17 years) and adults who sexually abuse them. Crashing through all was news of the drug-inspired death of gender-bending Ethan-Is-Supreme, the 17-year-old ‘make-up influencer’ on YouTube.

We don’t connect the dots between wickedness in high places and vulnerable kids. Wake up people! We need bold churches to fight for the original dignity of our sons and daughters, not stupid legislatures that guard and help guarantee their early demise.

I raced to morning Mass only to discover Newsom’s mandate—forbidding all indoor gatherings–tacked on the parish door. What? No recourse for the faithful? Won’t do virtual Church. Sorry. Mass is the Meal that sends demons to flight, not a TV show. You can’t eat pixels.

A small post-it note invited any beggar to confession that afternoon. I needed it and waited in the heat til the towering Father emerged and literally provided shade for my overexposed soul. He spoke the Word about my authority as a son of God, not a slave to sin’s sloppiness and confusion (Gal. 3: 4-7). He asked me to bring my beach chair and come the next day to outdoor Mass. I did.

About 300 endured the blaze for the joy set before us. The music was sweet, preaching good, the Meal better. When we prayed together to Jesus: ‘Look not on our sin but on the faith of the Church’, I broke. That’s it. In the Apocalypse, the hell around us that seeks to invade us cannot prevail. How? My willpower? My wholeness? My righteousness? Nah! The Authority of the Church.

Things will get worse. Only His Body makes us better. Be bold, Church! BECAUSE of the Newsoms, masks and lockdowns, I urge you to seek shade from the heat. Gather in Jesus’ Name. Become a mighty member. Rejoice.