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Posts Tagged ‘Persecution’

The Final Confrontation

In 04 Fr. John McCloskey on 2015/08/21 at 12:00 AM

The Final Confrontation

by Father John McCloskey

We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel.
We must be prepared to undergo great trials in the not-too-distant future; trials that will require us to be ready to give up even our lives, and a total gift of self to Christ and for Christ. Through your prayers and mine, it is possible to alleviate this tribulation, but it is no longer possible to avert it. . . .How many times has the renewal of the Church been brought about in blood! It will not be different this time.
– Bicentennial talk given in the United States by the future St. John Paul II, then Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Kraków, Poland
My eyes almost popped out when I first read this. I could not believe it was authentic, but I have checked it repeatedly and yes, he did say it. And he said it to us Americans, who were at perhaps the apogee of our greatness, short of the fall of the “Evil Empire.”

Well, how seriously should we take this? Very, very seriously. After all, the speaker was about to become one of the greatest popes in the history of the Church. In addition, he was a mystic and, yes, a prophet and truth-teller who suffered under Nazism and communism, as well as in a certain sense also from Islam. (Recall that he was almost killed by a Muslim assassin, only to be saved by the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima, according to his own words.)

Let me be clear: my musings on the words of John Paul are not meant to encourage you to sell your property, close the bank account, build a bomb shelter, and await the rapture. That is not the Catholic thing to do. But it’s hard not to “ponder these things in [our] hearts.” What exactly did the pope see or have revealed to him? Perhaps the best place to seek the answer is his writings, although we lack space to comb through them all here.

We can also look around us at the remains of what was once called the Christian West, noting a host of behaviors and beliefs that seem custom-made to initiate and accelerate decline. For example, we find in the West depopulation, legal abortion, open homosexuality and same-sex “marriage,” epidemic levels of pornography use, declining marriage rates, and rising cohabitation rates.

Politically, even supposedly tolerant and democratic states like our own are beginning to deny the religious liberty rights of families, businesses, and churches. In addition, we observe growing centralization of power in the hands of those unfavorable to any faith except the idolatry of health, wealth, and technology. They place their long-term hope in the possibility that science may one day arrest death. They watched too many Star Trek and Star Wars movies as children. Unfortunately, they may well go where many men have gone before – and not simply into outer space.

This, surely, is the Anti-Church that St John Paul foresaw – in any event it is here, it is growing, and to a great extent it has already demolished Europe.

What are we to do? First, of course, do not despair. As Catholics we live this life looking forward to the next. We can’t lose, for as St. Paul put it, for us death is gain, not something to fear.

How then to confront and combat the Anti-Church? Imitate the lives of the first Christians! Consider this justly famous description of Christians in the anonymous “Letter to Diognetus,” written in 79 A.D.:

For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. . . .They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. (2 Corinthians 10:3) They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. (Philippians 3:20) They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. . .they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonored, and yet in their very dishonor are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; (2 Corinthians 4:12) they are insulted, and repay the insult with honor; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers.
If we live as the first Christians did, we too can confront and triumph over the Church of the evil Global Empires.

First appeared on The Catholic Thing in June, 2014.

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More Christian Persecuted Than in the First Centuries

In Uncategorized on 2014/06/23 at 12:00 AM

The Holy Father commented on Jesus’ discourse in Jerusalem about the end of time. Jesus exhorted the apostles not to be deceived by false messiahs and not to be paralysed by fear, but rather to live this moment of waiting in hope, as a time of witness and perseverance.

The Holy Father emphasised the relevance of these words even to us now in the twenty-first century. “It is a call to discernment”, he said. “Even nowadays, in fact, there are false ‘saviours’ who seek to take Jesus’ place: leaders of this world, gurus, holy men, people who want to attract hearts and minds, especially of young people. Jesus warns us: ‘do not follow them’. And the Lord also helps us not to be afraid when faced with wars and revolutions, natural disasters and epidemics: Jesus liberates us from fatalism and false apocalyptic visions. … He reminds us that we are entirely in God’s hands! The adversity we encounter on account of our faith and our adhesion to the Gospel are opportunities for witness; they should not turn us away from the Lord but rather encourage us to abandon ourselves more fully to Him, to the strength of His Spirit and His grace”.

“In this moment”, he continued, unscripted, “let us think of the many Christian brothers and sisters who suffer persecution for their faith. There are many of them. Perhaps more than in the first centuries. Jesus is with them. Let us also be united with them by our prayer and our affection. Let us admire their courage and their witness. They are our brothers and sisters, who in many parts of the world suffer for being faithful to Jesus Christ. Let us extend our heartfelt and affectionate greetings to them”.

Francis highlighted Jesus’ promise to us as a guarantee of victory: “’Stand firm, and you will win life’. … This is a call to hope and patience, to know how to await the certain fruits of salvation, trusting in the deep meaning of life and history; the trials and difficulties form part of a greater design, and the Lord, the master of history, guides all to its fulfilment. Despite the disorder and catastrophes that afflict the world, God’s plan of goodness and mercy will prevail”.

VIS 131118

Coptic Christians of Egypt

In 13 History on 2013/09/12 at 12:00 AM

The growing civil unrest in Egypt has resulted in tension among the factions of the country’s Muslim population, but it has also resulted in increased threats and violence against the nation’s Christian minority, most of which is Coptic. When American Protestants hear about such violence, our natural and appropriate response is outrage, but it also leads to a question many Evangelicals are no doubt asking: What, exactly, is a Coptic Christian?

Understanding the origins of Coptic Christianity requires a dip into Church history. Christianity in Egypt is traditionally traced back to the Gospel writer Mark, and in the early centuries of the faith, the Egyptian city of Alexandria was one of the most important Christian centers. Some philosophical tensions were evident early, however. Alexandria was an outpost of “eastern” Christianity, which tended to emphasize Christ’s transcendent deity. “Western” Christian centers, on the other hand, stressed His humanity more heavily. These differences in theological emphasis — coupled with the late Roman Empire’s geographical politics — all came to a head in 451 A.D. at the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon.

The details of Chalcedon are almost absurdly technical. While imperial politics played a major role in the proceedings and aftermath, the immediate theological issue the council tried to answer was just what happened when God the Son became incarnate as Jesus Christ. Did He exist (1) with two natures (human and divine) in radical distinction, (2) two natures commingling without losing their individual integrities, (3) a single divine nature, or (4) a composite of the human and the divine that formed a new type of nature?

Whatever Chalcedon’s complexities, the result was that the second position was upheld, leading to the famous “Chalcedonian Definition of Faith“. The Bishop of Alexandria, Dioscorus, was disgraced, in part for his role in attempting to defend Eutyches, a monk accused of holding the fourth position (“monophysitism“). Alexandria and its surrounding sites never accepted the Chalcedonian Definition. They rejected the label “monophysite,” but also opposed Chalcedonian Christology, arguing instead for a middle “miaphysite” position.

These events were the origins of the Coptic Church as distinct from broader catholic Christianity. Indeed, the divide represents one of the first major Church splits, predating the Great Schism with Eastern Orthodoxy by over 500 years and occurring more than a millennium before the Protestant Reformation. As a result, the Coptic Church developed on an almost parallel course to Catholicism, with its own succession of popes and its own distinctive liturgy. Also, similar to Eastern Orthodoxy, it contains a distinctly ethnic facet: Copts consider themselves the original Egyptians, rather than the country’s largely Arab Muslim population.

Islamic forces took Egypt decisively in the early 640s, but the Copts, weary of Roman and Byzantine Christianity’s periodic crackdowns against its Christology, were not entirely unwilling. During the last 1,400 years, Muslim majority rule of Egypt has at times entailed prejudice or persecution for the Copts, but at other times has allowed for a substantial degree of tolerance and coexistence. In the meantime, various attempts have been made to reconcile the Coptic Church with the churches from which it broke.

Attempts at rapprochement with the Catholic Church faltered during the Crusades and again at the Council of Florence in 1441. Recent developments, however, have been more positive. Forty years ago, Pope Paul VI met with Coptic Pope Shenouda III, leading to a clarifying of key Christological terminology. And earlier this year, the Coptic Pope Tawadros II met with Pope Francis at the Vatican, leading to further solidarity. Since the 1980s, meanwhile, relations between the Coptic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church have also thawed, to the extent that the two groups will now accept one another’s sacraments. The Coptic Church’s relationship with Protestantism was initially strained: 19th century missionaries were regarded as rivals rather than allies. Given recent persecutions, however, the groups appear more willing to acknowledge each other’s faiths as legitimate.

Throughout their history, the Coptic Christians of Egypt and its neighbors have been no strangers to suffering, and we need to pray and work for their perseverance through these most recent trials.

Source: National Catholic Review, 9/10/14

The Coming Storm by J. Reagan

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2012/02/11 at 9:11 AM

Ponder these possible headlines:

Homeowner arrested for allowing Bible study in his house.

Catholic Church loses exemption from property taxes based on discrimination.

Law enforcement officials given authority to collect evidence based on Confessions.

Catholic bishop sued for refusing to ordain a practicing homosexual.

State officials to determine how diocesan money is to be spent.

To protect children, an accusation of molestation will be enough to presume guilt of priests.

If you think these are exaggerated or cannot happen here, let me assure you that each of the above is either a law, a proposed law or an actual event.

One does not have to be a prophet to predict what is the probable future of the Catholic Church in the United States … persecution. In fact, it is already in progress. For many years now, groups like the ACLU along with liberal judges have been attacking Nativity scenes, public and private prayer, Christian moral codes and the like. Physical persecution is taking place in China, India, Nigeria, Uganda, Sudan, Iraq, Pakistan and other places. In every case, Government officials are either behind attacks (Sudan) or refuse to do anything about them (India).

Can physical persecution happen in the U.S.?  Certainly it can, and may arise within 5-10 years.  American history has numerous incidents of anti-Catholic activity.  Our Lord told his disciples that the world hated Him, and the world will hate them (and us) because of Him.  The Church has been persecuted from its very beginning (with intermittent periods of relief) while rarely have other Churches or religions been so attacked.

The U.S. has become a secular society, the hallmark of which is to relegate religion and religious practices to the level of the ignored, if at all possible. One may prefer to be religious, but he will be advised to keep it to himself. Religion is to have no role in public society. Thus, God has been banished from the government at all levels, from education, from bio-medical research, from business and the secular media. (The effects have not been pretty.)

Then, too, the Catholic Church claims to have a complete hold on divine truth (as opposed to the partial truth of Protestantism).  A secular philosophy does not approve of this at all because modern society claims that no one can have a monopoly on truth in the non-physical sphere. It denies the very idea of objective truth. Truth becomes little more than opinion, and contradictory opinions are quite acceptable.  After all, who of us is capable of judging another?

The Catholic Church is also contra-cultural. The Church’s moral code is based on divine Revelation and human reason. Contemporary culture bases its “moral code” on consensus and self-gratification. Each one may decide his own moral conduct based on not much more than whim. In any case, who’s to judge?

Persecution of the Church is always inspired and led by Satan and his human agents.

Since the Catholic Church contains irrefutable proof of it doctrines and morals, it is the Church that Satan tries to destroy. Those humans, under the control of Satan, fear and hate the Catholic Church.  If they  were honest and acknowledged the truth of Catholicism, they would have to repent of their merry lifestyles and abandon them … not very appealing.  Better to attack the Church.  (Note that while it is politically incorrect to judge others, it is never out of line to judge the Catholic Church falsely.)

How likely is persecution in a more blatant form? Just recently the Obama regime decreed that Catholic institutions would be compelled to commit sin in order to comply with the latest dictates of this administration. Anti-Catholics have jumped right up to declare that the Church is trying to do damage to women’s health. However, none of the proposals actually involve health. (In fact, if all Americans observed the Catholic Church’s moral code regarding sexuality, think of all the current problems we would NOT have.)

Eventually the ignorant, the disgruntled and the unstable will want to “show these Catholics”.  Can it happen?  The moral level of the U.S. has been declining for a long time, and it is morality and conscience that deter immoral actions. Less morality, less deterrence! The picture is made worse by the huge number of “Catholics” who do not live their faith anymore. Polls have shown that the attitudes of both “Catholics” and non-Catholics in the matter of favoring abortion, same-sex marriage, birth control among others, are about the same. This should not be.

Any solution? Probably not! Of course, there is always prayer for divine mercy, but what reason would God have for granting mercy to this country? He has been outlawed in some quarters. His moral code is treated as a joke.  And, on it goes.

On a personal note… The next presidential election is the most important in U.S. history.  I think it is imperative for the country not to elect Obama again. (My voting registration is Independent.)  The most important possession we all have is life itself.  Obama favors killing fetuses, partially born babies, babies who survive abortion and human embryos.  One who favors killing the helpless for someone’s convenience lacks any normal sense of morality. Since these are all considered sinful by the Catholic Church, no Catholic should even think about voting for a man who endorses so much sin.

I hope I am wrong about the coming storm, but when it passes, and they always do, the Catholic Church will still be there with its doctrines and morals intact. Heaven will gain newly martyred citizens and the Catholics who survive will be Catholics, not “Catholics”.