Thursday, March 28, 2013

The coming martyrdom?

Esteban Perez Murillo, The Martyrdom of St Andrew
Regular readers know I've spent some time the last month or so writing about various aspects of martyrdom, so it's not surprising I'd notice this sobering piece from Matt Archbold.  Excerpt:

I was looking at my children in Mass yesterday and a horrifying thought occurred to me. If I do my job well as a parent, my children may end up persecuted and/or in jail. That may be the best I can hope for at this point in 21st century America.

I prayed that their faith would be strong enough to resist a pro-death culture, a secular academia, an antagonistic media, and the pressure of a government out to separate faith from action.
Secularism isn’t just on the march, it’s positively doing a jig.

I’m not talking about troubled times ahead for my grandchildren’s children in some possible future.

I’m talking about my kids. So revolutionary have been the recent changes in America that defending life, liberty, and the pursuit of holiness could very well lead to persecution in the very near future.

Now, we don't have children, so I can only imagine the thought that if you were to bring your children up right, you'd be consigning them to persecution, perhaps even death.

I have a friend who for some years has worried about his son, now 20, having to grow up and grow old in this America.  His concerns aren't limited to religious persecution, although that's a not-insignificant part of it; he's also concerned about the loss of freedom in general, economic collapse, and in general the end of America as we have known it for generations.

It is a sad thing to contemplate.  Last July, for the first time I can remember, we declined to take part in any of the Fourth of July celebrations we usually enjoy.  No parades, no fireworks, no 1812 Overture.  No 1776 or The Music Man.  Because it just didn't feel right, somehow.  The Obamacare decision had been handed down by the Supreme Court just a few days prior, and it suddenly felt as if that country, the America created by the Founding Fathers and celebrated for over 200 years, no longer existed.

I doubt that many of you would disagree with the thought that there is no distinct American culture anymore, nothing (other than the Super Bowl) that holds us all together at one specific moment in time.  Its absence is particularly noticeable to me after spending time with my television research; so many things back then were taken for granted, things that required no explanation, were understood by everyone. Sometimes when I see the American flag fly I wonder if this country could really come to stand for the kind of persecution that worries Matt Archbold   Yes, it's possible.  Perhaps likely, I don't know for sure since I'm not a fortuneteller.  

In a way it's good to ponder this today, as we once again enter the Sacred Triduum with Holy Thursday.  At the end of this day Jesus will have been arrested; the process of His martyrdom will begin to be an active fact.  Doubtless many of us wonder - will we be like Christ, who accepted the cup He was given?  Or will we be Peter, who denied Him three times but ultimately returned to lead His Church?  Will we be John, the only one of the disciples who didn't abandon Him?  Or will we be Judas, whose greatest sin was not betrayal but despair, refusing the saving mercy of God?  At some point or another we may well find out?

If all that makes us afraid, we have the supreme consolation - that Jesus, facing His Passion and death, chose not to console Himself by denying the pain and suffering that would accompany the Way of the Cross, in order that we might have a Savior Whom we knew had experienced it, had experienced all of human pain.  And that's why, on Holy Thursday, such thoughts should produce not worry and anxiety, but should help us prepare for whatever lies ahead.  

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