By R. C. VanLandingham
R.C. VanLandingham is a novelist. His most recent work is Peter Puckett and the Amulet of Eternity. Find out more rcvanlandingham.com.
My wife and I used to watch a show called Doomsday Preppers on Nat Geo. Each episode followed a family preparing for a civilization-ending event such as the collapse of the world economic system or the eruption of a super volcano. These “preppers” accumulated and stored all the essentials needed to physically survive just about any crisis. I guarantee none of them sweated the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020 or the recent gas crisis. They were prepared. Materially at least.
As Catholics, and Christians more generally, our primary concern should not be on our material needs such as food, water, fuel, etc., but on our spiritual needs. Sure, we need to eat to survive, but as our Lord told the devil, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” After all, what good is it to live a long, healthy life with a full belly only to die the second death, perishing in the flames of Hell? You might have a bunker under your house with enough food, toilet paper, and guns to equip a company of Marines, but in the end, none of that will matter if you are not spiritually prepared.
In the chaotic world we live in, a catastrophic event could come from just about anywhere, but the one that I want to focus on in this article is a Communist takeover of America. Breitbart recently reported an open letter signed by over 120 retired generals and admirals warning of just that. The letter stated in part: “Our nation is in deep peril. We are in a fight for our survival as a Constitutional Republic like no other time since our founding in 1776. The conflict is between supporters of Socialism and Marxism vs. supporters of Constitutional freedom and liberty.”
No one who has been paying attention could doubt the reality of this threat to our country. As frequent Crisis contributor Paul Kengor demonstrates in his excellent book The Devil and Karl Marx, Communists have been slowly taking over the institutions of this nation for the last hundred years. Now, they appear ready to make a push for complete control of the country. They do not always call themselves Marxists, or Communists, or Socialists, but their goal is the same—to create a Soviet America.
In his book, Mr. Kengor quoted the former head of the Soviet GPU (Soviet military police) in the United States as saying: “When we get ready to take the United States, we will not take it under the label of communism; we will not take it under the label of socialism. These labels are unpleasant to the American people and have been speared too much. We will take the United States under labels we have made loveable; we will take it under liberalism, under progressivism, under democracy. But take it we will.” We are all witnessing the Marxist revolution in America play out in real-time.
I have not resigned myself to a Communist victory just yet, and I pray their revolution fails. However, like the doomsday preppers, we should prepare for the worst. In this article I suggest ways we can spiritually prepare for a Communist takeover.
First, we need to understand what it is like for Christians living under a Communist regime. Mr. Kengor explains that “religion was viewed [by Marxists] as a dangerous and ubiquitous rival belief system. It was Marxism’s chief competitor for the mind of the working class.” Therefore, Christians in Communist countries are persecuted, subjugated, imprisoned, tortured, and often executed.
Lutheran pastor Richard Wurmbrand and his wife Sabina present an illuminating, albeit terrifying, case study as Christians surviving Communism. Their combined story can be found in the book Wurmbrand: Tortured for Christ: The Complete Story.
In the book, Rev. Wurmbrand explains: “The Communists rigged elections with fraud and violence, taking total control of [Romania]. Opposition leaders, police officers, and civil servants were liquidated in a swift wave of terror. Then the Communists focused their sights on the church. Catholic bishops and countless clergy, monks, and nuns were targeted next. Tens of thousands of ordinary people disappeared, sent to jails and labor camps…No one’s life remained the same.”
As a Christian pastor who refused to compromise his principles, Rev. Wurmbrand was soon arrested. He spent fourteen years as a political prisoner, but he was not registered under his real name on the prison rolls. Thus, his family never even knew if he was alive or dead. He was beaten and interrogated endlessly. He received no visitors or mail. His captors told him his wife had deserted him. They told him his wife was dead. They told him his wife had been arrested, which was true. Sabina was arrested and sent to a forced labor camp, where she barely survived off of meager scraps of food while digging a canal in freezing weather. Many of her fellow inmates died of exposure, starvation, or sickness.
The Communists devised all sorts of sadistic methods to torture their prisoners. According to Rev. Wurmbrand, who had been a prisoner of both the Nazis and the Communists, “The Communists were far more skilled than the Nazis at extracting information from prisoners…At first the human body can withstand even the most severe physical trauma. But when the body is injured repeatedly, the memory of the pain accumulates until it gradually breaks the will.”
The method of torture inflicted on Rev. Wurmbrand that I found most disturbing used a device that he called “the cupboard.” “Only twenty inches around, the cupboard was studded with nails and prevented the prisoner from moving,” he wrote. Rev. Wurmbrand was locked inside the cupboard for two days. If he moved forward or back even the slightest bit, he would be stabbed with nails. Only if he stood perfectly still could he avoid being stabbed.
Another favorite method to break prisoners was to torture their family members. One prisoner had his son beaten to death right in front of him. With his dying breath the boy begged his father not to deny Christ.
Are you prepared for that kind of terror? Are you prepared to have your loved ones taken by sadistic thugs working for a tyrannical government? Are you prepared to suffer daily through physical and mental anguish? Are you prepared to stand strong in the faith through it all? Am I?
I pray that I am. I pray that my family is. But truthfully, I will not know if I am ready until it happens. And none of us will have the strength to persevere without the power of the Holy Spirit. Just as God sent an angel to strengthen Jesus on the eve of His crucifixion, so will we need to be strengthened to endure such horror. But there are things we can do in the meantime to prepare.
We must become mentally prepared for the possibility that this may actually happen here. Understand that it is an honor to be found worthy enough to be persecuted for Christ. Do like the Wurmbrands and study the martyrs to learn how they persevered through intense suffering.
Take full advantage of all the Church has to offer while you still can. Attend Mass and take the Eucharist as often as possible. Attend Adoration and find peace in Christ. Go to confession regularly. Become part of the parish community and build strong friendships with other believers.
Pray. Pray as often as you can. Pray the Holy Rosary and the Divine Office. Pray to the Saints for intercession. Pray that you and your family will have the strength to persevere to the end.
Study Holy Scripture. The Wurmbrands memorized Bible verses. They found 366 verses that said “Do not fear” and memorized one for each day of the year (including Leap Year). Each day in prison they would meditate on that day’s verse.
Live a life of holiness. Live your life in a way that the authorities will never have a just reason to arrest you. That way, if you are arrested it is not for something you did that was actually wrong.
Love others as yourself. Get accustomed to sacrifice and putting others before yourself. Be generous. Be forgiving. Pray for your enemies—even those that torture you. Rev. Wurmbrand prayed for his torturers even while he was being tortured.
Most of all, trust not in chariots and horses, but in the Lord! We must never forget that Christ is stronger than the greatest army. “The Communists believed a man would do anything to avoid being put to death,” Rev. Wurmbrand wrote. “A prisoner, they believed, would confess everything for his freedom.” The Wurmbrand’s made it through this hell on earth because they realized that in the end, Christ would liberate them one way or the other. Rev. Wurmbrand knew that “not even all of the Communists in Europe combined could rob him of his soul.” To persevere, we must know that, too.