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If there is a persecution, will I stay faithful? October 27, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, disaster, episcopate, General Catholic, North Deanery, sadness, scandals, sickness, Society, Tradition.

This is a question that has haunted me at times over the past several months.  A fried reminded me last night of something a priest said.  We had been having a discussion about numerous problems afflicting the Church, about how so few Catholics are faithful and how so very many proudly reject what the Church believes – not only laity, but priests and even bishops.  How does the Church continue on with so many unfaithful people claiming to be good Catholics?  How do we correct the mass apostasy and error?  My friend reminded me that a local priest has said – warned, really – that the way that God has frequently dealt with such problems in the past is persecution.  In times when there has been mass falling away, poor practice of the Faith, and error run amock, God has frequently raised up grave threats to the Faith that cause those who don’t really believe to fall away, and in huge numbers.  It happened under Diocletian.  It happened under Decius.  It happened in Germany and other places in the 1500s.  I happened in France and other places in the revolutions at the end of the 18th century, it happened in Germany under the Kulturkampf of the 1870s, in China at various times, the Christeros in Mexico in only a few decades ago, in India right now – it’s been an ongoing aspect of the Church’s history.  Historically, only those places that have remained strong in the Faith across the board have escaped persecutions – such as Spain in the protestant revolt of the 1500s. 

And of course, we all like to think that we’ll remain faithful.  I’d certainly like to think so, but if someone threatened my children, would I repudiate Christ, telling myself “God knows I really love Him, I’m just doing this to save my family?”  Sometimes, the demands of the persecutors can seem very slight, insignificant – just burn a little incense for the Emperor, just send your kids to the Prussian schools.  The world would say “be reasonable, think of your family, God will understand.”  After the persecution of Diocletian, there was a very big debate in the Church between those who wanted to be more lenient and understanding in allowing those who had apostasized to return to the Faith, and those who wanted to be very severe and insist on very rigorous penances and denail of re-admission to others.  The more lenient faction won, with the rigorists going on to form heretical sects including the Donatists. 

All of this may seem very far off, a fantasy.  Some may think it’s wishful thinking from a prideful man.  I pray not.  But there is growing concern in the Church, even among those who have a very comfortable relationship with the government and who are not always known for repudiating this fallen culture, that a persecution may be coming:

Speaking on October 26 to a constitutional subcommittee of the House Judiciary committee, Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport said:

In the recent past, the bishops of the United States have watched with increasing alarm as this great national legacy of religious liberty, so profoundly in harmony with our own teachings, has been subject to ever more frequent assault and ever more rapid erosion.

Bishop Lori—who was recently appointed chairman of a committee on religious liberty created by the US bishops’ conference—cited several examples of recent government moves to restrict religious freedom: the mandate to include contraceptive coverage in health-insurance programs; the denial of government grants to Catholic agencies that do not provide abortion services or participate in condom distribution; the administration’s drive to end resistance against same-sex marriage.

Much of the above is troubling, but also closely associated with the relatively far-left administration in power at present.  Many of these specific threats may recede when he is removed from office.  But there are broader cultural trends, which have sadly gained many adherents in the Church, which are more troubling.   As for whether there would be a persecution along the lines of a Christiada or Kulturkampf, I don’t think so, I pray not, but there are signs that are not reassuring.  I pray if there is, that I and my family remain faithful.

Christeros hung in Mexico

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