March 2019-The Current Persecution
Who will grant that my request may come: and that God may give me what I look for? And that he that hath begun may destroy me, that he may let loose his hand, and cut me off? And that this may be my comfort, that afflicting me with sorrow, he spare not, nor I contradict the words of the Holy One. (Job 6:8-10)
When we think of persecution, we think of the bloody persecutions of the early ages of the Church which have continued down until a little less than a century ago, when the Communists surrounded the Ukraine, cutting it off then taking all of the food from the Catholics of that nation starving them to death. We think of the glorious martyrdoms beginning with the stoning of Saint Stephen and continuing on through the centuries. Saint Alphonsus wrote a book, Victories of the Martyrs, to detail many of these glorious events. In this book he wrote: “The faith became further strengthened by the constancy of the martyrs of both sexes; men and women, the aged and the young, the noble and the plebeian, the rich and the poor, the learned and the unlearned, married and single.” 1
Consider the fortitude, courage and bravery of these martyrs. Christians were presented with a clear choice, apostatize or die. And some chose each path, which brought up the question of what to do with those who compromised, but now wish to return to Christianity. These people were called the lapsi in that they lapsed from the Faith, during persecution.
Tertullian wrote that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Faith. This is indeed true. There I nothing like a good persecution to strengthen good Christians and weed out the bad. When professing the Faith could easily be a death sentence, Christians take the faith seriously.
There is a story told of a man going into a church on Sunday morning about the time of the sermon. He has a machine gun and cranks a round into the chamber. Then he asks: “Who will take a bullet for Jesus Christ?” the church soon empties, except for the priest and a couple of people. The man then turns to the priest: “Father, you can preach now, I got rid of the insincere people.”
There is another type of persecution, which is far more dangerous. Without persecution the lapsi remain in the church in their comfortable pew, Sunday after Sunday. In fact even fervent Christians can slack off without realizing it.
Over a half a century ago The Enemy inspired men to organize a conspiracy to attempt to destroy the Church. An instruction was published by some of these men and came to light and was ordered published by Pope Pius IX as The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita.
In 1873 Father Delaporte wrote a book, The Devil, in which he said of The Enemy's plans: “Let us make no martyrs, but make vice popular among the masses.” 2 Let us remember who The Enemy is: “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.” (Ephesians 6:12) However, The Enemy has enlisted men in his service here on earth, and The Enemy has a plan to bring about the damnation of all men, which is his perfidious goal. We will not go into details about this plan, except to point out a small part of it as it gives us direction spiritually how to combat this in our own hearts.
This persecution began a century and a half ago, although bloody persecutions still have arisen in that time. In the Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita, we read of two important points. First they want “a Pope according to our own wants.”
“Now then, in order to secure to us a Pope in the manner required, it is necessary to fashion for that Pope a generation worthy of the reign of which we dream.” How do you fashion such a generation? You must weaken each successive generation morally and spiritually. A Protestant observed around 1970: “Have you notice in church that what used to be a sin isn't a sin any more?” Two heresies arose, Liberalism and Modernism, which attacked not only Catholicism, but all that calls itself Christian.
The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita also says: “Our final end is that of Voltaire and of the French Revolution, the destruction for ever of Catholicism and even of the Christian idea which, if left standing on the ruins of Rome, would be the resuscitation of Christianity later on.”
Rather than offer to kill us, The Enemy prefers to Kill us by inches, that is to leave us alive. The Enemy prefers to weaken and destroy us by luxury rather than kill us and water the roots of the Church with our blood. How far have we allowed ourselves to become weakened by The Enemy?
Let us go back a century and a half to Ars in France. The pastor Father John Vianney became well known for his spirituality. He campaigned against two things, dancing and neighborhood bars. He did all he could to eliminate both from his parish. One wonders how long it was after the death of Father Vianney that a dance was held by the Pastor in the parish hall. If one looks, there are now three bars in Ars. How many Catholics go to Ars to visit the grave of Saint John Vianney and stop in one of these bars?
We have been lulled to sleep by the lack of bloody persecution. We have begun compromising with the world, and we can have no part of the world. “And be not conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2) Let us take up our weapons, prayer and penance and walk away from the world and worldly thinking.