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Are We Willing to Shed Our Blood for Christ?

Three days ago while I was checking my e-mail I stumbled upon this disturbing e-mail.  The email was a donation plea from Johnette Benkovic.  Usually I delete these types of e-mails since I don't have the time or money, but in this case I decided to read it.  I was hooked by the title, "Are You Willing To Shed Your Blood For Christ?"

The e-mail asked point blank if we as Catholics were willing to suffer for Christ.   Usually when I get this question I usually think of some martyr somewhere in Africa.  I never think about martyrdom especially in America.  However, as I pondered about this more and more I began to realize that there is some truth that we as Catholics and Christians we are in the midst of a great persecution.  Benkovic explained that there are 5 stages of persecution:

  1. Catholics are targeted, stereotyped, and stigmatized
  2. Catholics are marginalized -- pushed out of the mainstream of society
  3. Catholics are vilified -- hatefully blamed for society's ills
  4. Catholics are criminalized -- forced to operate under legal restrictions that get tighter and tighter
  5. Outright persecution
According Benkovic's reasoning we are in stage 3. I agree with this assessment.  Just take a look what happened after September 11.  One would expect that because the attacks were perpetrated by radical Muslims that our society would be more critical of Islam.  Instead the opposite happened; people began blaming religion especially Christianity for the violence in the world.  Once this happened I believe stage 1 had begun.

I can attest to this persecution from an incident that occurred to my friend about two months ago.  My friend who is a music teacher at a private school was supposed to lead and organize a spring concert.  The theme of the concert was "Celebrating the History of America"   Everything went along fine until one day after a rehearsal he was called into the office by his supervisor.  The supervisor voiced his concerns that two of the selections,  "Amazing Grace" and "How Great Thou Art" were "too Christian'  He was commanded to replace those two songs on the grounds that these hymns were viewed as offensive to non Christians.  Even though this may appear on the surface as a bad case of political correctness, it is not.  This type of subtle persecution is a microcosm of how our society is deliberately trying to extinguish our faith from the public arena. The trouble with this is that by relegating our faith to the safe confines of our homes it is robbing us of opportunity to spread the faith where it is mostly needed, in the public.  This definitely sounds like stage 2 to me.

It is so disheartening to see my faith being dragged through the mud by an increasingly relativistic, paganistic, and atheistic society. Everywhere I turn I see my faith being ridiculed on TV, radio, Internet, in colleges, at work, in the media etc. It all seems so chilling, so Orwellian. It almost feels like we are spiraling towards a decadence unmatched since the end days of the Roman Empire. The reality is that we as Catholics and Christians are being kicked out of our culture as our society rots from the inside out. The greatest threat to our society is not war, a nuclear disaster, or global warming. The greatest threat to our well being is the subtle, but steady decline of morality in our culture. Satan knows this that's why he is attacking our country in this way. We have a choice here; we can either surrender to these cultural forces or we can choose to fight for our faith. There is no room for lukewarmness. In war their victors and losers no neutrals. We must win this war. The fate of the world depends upon this.  

(As proof of our increasingly hedonistic culture yesterday in New York state the senate passed a bill legalizing gay marriage; making New York the 6th and largest state in the country to do so.  I will write more about this in my next post.)

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