By Tom Quiner
Billy Graham was a Baptist preacher (his epitaph). No one in history preached to more people than the globe-trotting Mr. Graham. It is estimated some 215 million people in 185 heard him preach in person.
Not even Jesus could make such a claim (unless you count His activities on the ‘third day’ when He descended into Hell, e.i. the realm of the dead, “proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there,” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church).
But I digress.
2 Reactions to Billy Graham’s death
I was struck by two reactions to Mr. Graham’s death. The first came from Catholic circles, where priests, Popes, and the laity alike sung the praises of the late evangelist. Graham struck up a friendship with Pope John Paul II in the early 80s, and had a cordial relationship with many Catholics in his lifetime. The Venerable Fulton Sheen was one, too.
The Billy Graham mystique
Catholic Bishop Robert Barron captured the essence of Billy Graham’s mystique this way:
“What was it about his preaching that was so compelling? I suppose in his early years, he demonstrated a fair amount of “flash,” prowling the stage, waving his arms, and moving dramatically from whispering to shouting. But as he matured, a fair amount of that theatricality faded away. What remained was a gentle sense of humor (usually self-deprecating), an obvious sincerity, a keen intelligence, and above all, a clarity in regard to the essentials of the Gospel. Practically every Billy Graham sermon had the same basic structure: you have sought happiness in wealth, pleasure, material things, fame, etc., and you’ve never been satisfied; I want to tell you about what will make you happy. At this point, he would speak of Christ crucified and risen from the dead.”
The video below gives you a taste of his style:
A secular reaction
I was also struck by a jarring secular reaction. It came from a journalist at Teen Vogue, Lauren Duca, an influencer of the next generation, who tweeted:
“The big news is that Billy Graham was still alive. Anyway, have fun in hell, bitch.”
When normal people pushed back about ‘respecting the dead’, Ms. Duca doubled down:
“Respecting the dead” only applies to people who weren’t evil pieces of sh*t while they were living, thanks.”
Ms. Duca’s comment makes me realize more than ever how much we will miss Billy Graham, and how much the world needs to hear his message.
God bless you, Billy Graham. This Catholic suspects that you’re walking with the angels this very moment. Thank-you for you, faithful service to the Gospel.