From the Pastor – November 17, 2019

Short Daily Prayers“They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.  It will lead to your giving testimony.” (Lk 21:12-13)

What does it mean when Christ tells us that “they will persecute you”?  We can easily look at the history of the Church, and see persecution.  The first persecutions began in 1st century Rome, and were conducted by the Emperor Nero.  Those early persecutions led to the Great Persecution of the 3rd century by the Roman Empire, persecutions that didn’t end until Christianity was legalized in 313 A.D.  We can look at the persecutions of Christians by Moslem invasion in North Africa, which led to the Christians Crusades to reclaim the Holy Land.  Skipping ahead, we recall the French Revolution, when 30,000 priests were forced to leave France, or killed if they didn’t.  There was the Red Terror in Spain in 1931, when more than 7,000 priests were killed.  We can point to persecutions under the Nazis, the Chinese and Russian Communists, and the Mexican secularists.  Even as we sit in Church, we can contemplate current persecutions in India, Africa, China, Syria and almost the entire Arab Middle East.  In fact, there were more martyrs to Christ in the 20th century than in the previous 19 centuries combined.  Not a week passes when I don’t read of the murder of a priest or a religious sister somewhere in the world, including Armenian-Catholic priest Father Hovsep Hanna Bedoyan who was killed on Monday

But what about us?  How are we persecuted? In actuality, we might not feel like we are.  If we are lax in the practice of our faith, then we might make a “compromise” with the persecutions, and not even feel touched by it.  But if we see ourselves as part of the Body of Christ, joined by a common Baptism to all Catholics, and indeed all Christians, throughout the world, then we can understand persecution.  What’s under attack?  Christ is under attack.  His children are being aborted.  His name is being blasphemed in art and literature.  His faithful people are being attacked for practicing His Faith throughout the world.  Anytime His Holy Name is used in vain, His Body is being persecuted.

And He calls us to give testimony.  How?  To give testimony to Christ primarily consists in our practicing and living our Faith in a serious way.  It means “no compromise.”  It means praying for the Church persecuted.  Three years ago we were ‘persecuted” when the Westboro Baptist Church set up a protest outside.  Remember that?  I barely do, it was such small change.  The real persecutor is the Devil.  And living our faith always involved being persecuted by him.  Sometimes giving testimony is as simple as resisting the evil of temptation.

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty