Most Christians are familiar with the catacombs where the celebration of the Holy Eucharist and other prayer took place in the first age of martyrs. Less familiar perhaps, particularly in 17th century Ireland, was the necessitated use of “Mass Rocks” in fields far from the prying eyes of British troops, when Catholic faith and practice was banned.
We need to pray, be vigilant, and courageous truth-speaking witnesses in our day that such necessary precautions will not be needed again, for the only remaining and acceptable discrimination is anti-Christianity, a potential gateway to concentration camps and martyrdom.
One of the powerful scenes in the film THE KING’S SPEECH, is when the about to be crowned King shouts: I HAVE VOICE!
Every human being has a voice, but not every human being is heard, because totalitarian governments suppress opposition voices either by imprisonment, shutting down media, while ersatz democratic governments use other less drastic but no less effective means to stifle dissent, such as the Liberal party of Canada banning all pro-life people from running as candidates for the party, giving so-called ‘financial help in these difficult times’ to pro-Liberal media outlets, by giving press passes mainly to those media who agree with the current government, while social media, in the main, eviscerates solidly Christian, pro-life, pro-family voices, even banning people outright, whose posts are not in line with the outlets leftist agenda and doing such banning with no process of adjudication.
So much for freedom of speech, so much for ‘I have a voice’, nope, not unless you join the chorus of the pro-death, anti-family, anti-Christian culture. A choir whose only ‘music’ echoes the banshee screams of the damned.
A minor example of political correctness run amok is the moment I typed “damned’ up pops a message, imbedded in Microsoft Word, advising me that word ‘damned’ might be offensive to some of my readers. Really?
Reminds me of the 1998 film: Enemy of the State. Not just totalitarian regimes but even western democracies through the symbiosis of leftist politicians, media, special interest groups, have made the state sacrosanct, treating any dissent as ersatz blasphemy.
It is extremely urgent we Catholics, indeed all Christians, rediscover the courage of martyrs, should things keep heading in the direction where martyrdom becomes a fact of life. Even more urgent is that we Catholics and all Christians have the courage to be Confessors of the Faith, no matter the cost.
Doing anything less means not even noticing the smoke of satan, which pervades within this time it history, and, as Pope St. Paul VI noted, having also penetrated the Church, has become so thick that breathing in and exhaling the True-breath of the Holy Spirit becomes well nigh impossible. If we choose to ignore the smoke of satan we will suffocate through cowardice. Wildfires in summer are a common occurrence and the smoke contains numerous chemicals, gases, and particulate matter such as burning embers and soot.
The main components of satanic smoke are: hedonism, secularism, relativism, humanism, atheism, a disdain for the sacredness of life from the womb to the tomb, and most pernicious of all: pride.
Breathing in wildfire smoke damages the body. Breathing in satan’s smoke corrodes the intellect, heart, and soul.
Equivalent to the winds that spread wildfire smoke thousands of kilometers from the source, ideas uncritically embraced by human beings and passed on to others, often globally, are the lies and pseudo ‘truth’ that originate with satan and his minions.
Ideas matter; but ideas that matter most are taken for granted…….Eventually one side of ideas or another comes to be accepted as what “right-thinking” or “realistic” people accept. These fundamental presuppositions are the environment in which the Church has to function…….I do not think enough care has been shown by churchmen in understanding and evaluating these ideas that shaped the modern world, and, as a result, it is the modern world that has begun to determine our understanding and preaching of the gospel, to the detriment of our common Christian tradition. 
…….a truth which the Church has always treasured: in the far reaches of the human heart there is a seed of desire and nostalgia for God. The Liturgy of Good Friday recalls this powerfully when, in praying for those who do not believe, we say: “Almighty and eternal God, you created mankind so that all might long to find you and have peace when you are found”. There is therefore a path which the human being may choose to take, a path which begins with reason's capacity to rise beyond what is contingent and set out towards the infinite……..People cannot be genuinely indifferent to the question of whether what they know is true or not. If they discover that it is false, they reject it; but if they can establish its truth, they feel themselves rewarded. It is this that Saint Augustine teaches when he writes: “I have met many who wanted to deceive, but none who wanted to be deceived”. It is rightly claimed that persons have reached adulthood when they can distinguish independently between truth and falsehood, making up their own minds about the objective reality of things. 
The attempt to set freedom in opposition to truth, and indeed to separate them radically, is the consequence, manifestation and consummation of another more serious and destructive dichotomy, that which separates faith from morality. This separation represents one of the most acute pastoral concerns of the Church amid today's growing secularism, wherein many, indeed too many, people think and live "as if God did not exist". We are speaking of a mentality which affects, often in a profound, extensive and all-embracing way, even the attitudes and behaviour of Christians, whose faith is weakened and loses its character as a new and original criterion for thinking and acting in personal, family and social life. In a widely dechristianized culture, the criteria employed by believers themselves in making judgments and decisions often appear extraneous or even contrary to those of the Gospel. 
There are groups, of no small influence, who are trying to talk us out of kneeling…..” It’s not appropriate for redeemed man – he has been set free by Christ and doesn’t need to kneel any more.”…..Kneeling is not only a Christian gesture, but a Christological one…..there is a story that comes from the sayings of the Desert Fathers, according to which the devil was compelled by God to show himself to a certain Abba Apollo. He looked black and ugly, with frighteningly thin limbs, but, most strikingly, he had no knees. The inability to kneel is seen as the very essence of the diabolical. 
There we have it, for the dominate poison in the smoke of satan is pride.
It we are to be true Confessors of the Faith, have the courage of martyrs, dwelling in truth and radiating the light of Christ to hold back the spread of the darkness and smoke of satan poisoning the human family with lies, the culture of death, the desperation that flows from unbelief, the result of surrendering to the smoke of satan, then we must heed the words of Micah: He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. [6:8]
 THE MASS AND MODERNITY, Jonathan Robinson of the Oratory; pps. 40-42; Ignatius Press, 2205 [italics are mine]
 FAITH AND REASON, John Paul II, paras. 24/25; [italics are mine] https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_14091998_fides-et-ratio.html
 THE SPLENDORS OF TRUTH, John Paul II, para. 88, [italics are mine] https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_06081993_veritatis-splendor.html
 JOSEPH RATZINER COLLECTED WORKS THEOLOGY OF THE LITURGY, pp.115, 120-21, Ignatius Press, 2014 [italics and emphasis are mine]
© 2021 Fr. Arthur Joseph