Sunday, January 19, 2020



                        Christian hope and perseverance in the Age of Martyrs

By 1942 the Second World War seemed marked more by continuous defeats than by any glimmer of hope. Yet the Allies pressed on both in the European/African theater and in the Pacific. Finally, with the British victory at El Alamein, Churchill famously said: Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

When a democratic country has a free and fair election, if the mood of the people is anger, frustration with the incumbent government, the electorate will not so much vote for a new government as to vote out the incumbent, in a sense hoping they will experience with the new government a new beginning.

Even in democratic countries with the possibility of choosing between several rather than just two party options, what appears to dominate is government A, irrespective of minor variations, is of the leftist type. They will tend to be anti-life, anti-family, obsessed with climate change, spendthrift etc., governing until there is such anger over all the social engineering, all this applauded by, urged on by leftist media, when people go to vote they vote to kick that crowd out. While the choice of government B, irrespective likewise of minor variations, is of the rightest type. Once in power and examining the government books, to reduce huge debts and deficits, they have to cut into programs people are accustomed too, such as health care, ending up doing their own version of social engineering while the leftist media, enthralled by leftist governments and applauding their anti-Christian, anti-life agenda, fear mongering about climate change and the policies of the current government, blatantly seeks the defeat of the government. In such a climate once such necessary actions, to curb spending etc., start to bite, and people feel they are less well off, the cycle repeats itself.

Christians are complicit in this because we have forgotten Jesus’ prayer to the Father: I do not ask that You take them out of the world but that You keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. [Jn.17:15,16]

Satan, and the surrounding culture of death, want us to be so preoccupied with the world, the government around us, that we find ourselves stressed, often angry, frustrated and thus more pre-occupied with worldly matters than occupied with our baptismal vocation as disciples of Christ.

It is real carrying of the cross, real daily crucifixion following Jesus, to struggle to find the right balance between being witnesses consecrated to the Gospel of Life and active, rather than passive, citizens.

The old cliché that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely should give us pause to take time to examine our spiritual and emotional state when we act/react in the modern public square, i.e., democratic life.

If we use only the lens of our physical eyes, only the capacity of thought and imagination of our brains, react to the deep darkness of the culture of death of modern democracies with our emotions, then we have already been overcome and, rather than being on the threshold of a new beginning, all is truly lost.

However if we look upon our fellow citizens, on government, on the wider human family in all its variations of race, religion, politics, with our baptized hearts, evaluate the issues confronting our nation and the wider world having put on the armour of Christ’s love and using our brains in light of the Gospel, asking the sustaining guidance of the Most Holy Spirit, delving into, and implementing, the social teachings of the Church, then we shall experience, bring about, ‘the beginning of the end’ of the culture of darkness and death.

Modern democracies, and those in government, tend in the main to follow relativism, thus denying objective truth, and utilitarianism, thus denying that Christ has anything to say about objective morality.

St. John Paul saw the world with the eyes and heart of Christ and notes in his journals: The commandment of love. This attitude expresses freedom from any form of utilitarianism; it reaches the human being because they are a human being, it embraces the poorest and the disinherited. [1a] Also, the Saint, showing Christ’s own compassionate heart notes that: The contemporary world is, above all, searching for Him. He enters into the middle of contemporary man’s anxieties. Christ stands at the door and knocks – do not be afraid! We, above all, should not be afraid of Christ. [1b] Our time calls us, urges us, obliges us to gaze on the Lord and immerse ourselves in humble and devout meditation on the mystery of the supreme power of Christ Himself…… not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept His power. Help the Pope and all those who wish to serve Christ and with Christ's power to serve the human person and the whole of mankind. Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ. To His saving power open the boundaries of States, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development. Do not be afraid. Christ knows "what is in man". He alone knows it. [2]

In this anti-life, anti-family, anti-truth, anti-Christian culture of darkness and death, bereft of authentic Christocentric democracy it is a daily struggle to live out the teaching, rooted in the Great Commandment, of St. Paul: ……do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. [Eph. 4:30-32]

To thus live out the Great Commandment, to be light in the current darkness, to be active in the public square, without anger or malice, to embrace the fatigue of the struggle, this is truly to lay down our lives, with and for Christ, for others, for the restoration of fullness of the Gospel in our culture, for the conversion of government and citizens alike.

It is to embrace silent martyrdom, and we need martyrs.

Few of us will be called to be martyrs by blood, though in this age of foreign and domestic terrorists we should lead such holy lives that we are always ready. We, each of us, are called to be silent, hidden martyrs, that is to be in but not of the world, to be people of charity, mercy, truth, life, leading lives that are indeed peaceful, holy and without sin.

A woman who in her life experienced the comfort of the aristocracy in Czarist Russia, the horrors of WWI where she was a nurse at the Russian front, experienced the Russian Revolution, the Great Depression working among the poor in Toronto and Harlem, who founded a community of men, women and priests to serve the poor, to pray for the whole human family throughout the world, addresses this need for martyrs and that contemplation, that is deep immersion in prayer in the silence of God, girds us to endure the cacophony of noise in our restless nations, to be immersed in relationship with Christ and the Gospel of life, so that our action, familial, social, political, is itself Christocentric: The heart of man seeks solutions to his problems until no solutions are left. Then he discovers that the “I” in a sense must disappear, become totally identified with Christ in His silent service to mankind. Yes, there are many silent steps to take before one comes to the door of total identification. But when you arrive there, your heart, like those of the martyrs, will receive a new burst of love, the impulse of a heart which is finally united with the Beloved. [3]

Contemplation nourishes action and Gospel action makes us thirsty for contemplation. This is living in the grace of every moment is a moment of beginning again of Christian hope and perseverance in union with Christ.

We are called in baptism to witness Christ to everyone, to every institution, being thus salt of the earth and light of the world [Mt. 5:1-16] living out the Beatitudes, the Great Commandment, [Jn. 15: 7-13], for Jesus alone is our source of life and truth, He alone is the way [Jn.14:6].

[1a.b] IN GOD’S HANDS, The Spiritual Diaries of Pope Saint John Paul II; pp. 144 & 146; William Collins, 2017


[3] MOLCHANIE, The Silence of God, p77. Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Crossroad 1982 edition, re-published by Madonna House Publications as: Molchanie: Experiencing the Silence of God

 © 2020 Fr. Arthur Joseph

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