Monday, March 19, 2012

Deep Thoughts for Troubled Times

The Young Martyr - Paul Delaroche -

With the rapid fall of modern society into sin, destruction, and paganism, St. Therese of Lisieux's words about martyrdom, "My heart thrills at the thought of the undreamed-of torments which will be the lot of Christians in the time of the Anti-Christ!", keep resurfacing in my mind.  After reading her autobiography last summer, that line about the "undreamed-of torments" continued to echo in my heart, troubling me as I pondered what those forms of torture might be, and whether or not I would be called to endure any of them.  I used to think that there was no way the end of the world would come in my lifetime; I was certain that I would never live to see my beautiful country become so corrupted that Christ's return seemed like the only means of achieving victory over evil.  Yet, the longer I live and the more I learn, the harder it becomes for me to hold onto that naive assurance.  And, as I read Michael D. O'Brien's Eclipse of the Sun, my concern deepened as many of the horrors described in his pre-Apocalyptic world seemed to be coming true now, in the 21st century.  Instead of gaily singing and shouting like Pippin, I find myself muttering words of warning with Gandalf, reminding the ignorant that "We are sitting in a fortress.  Outside it is getting dark."
If Obama is re-elected for a second Presidential term, I have a horrible feeling that a modern persecution of Christians, more specifically-Catholics, may be an unavoidable part of the not-so-distant future. For now, while he needs the Catholic votes, Obama is acting like he wants to compromise his beliefs with ours, "modifying" his HHS Mandate to appease us.  But, anyone who has been paying attention knows that this attempt to pacify Catholics was merely a joke.  So, when he doesn't need our support, what's to stop him from turning around and renewing his assault on Catholics and our beliefs?  It is obvious that he doesn't share our values, and one cannot help but wonder if there might be some truth behind the claims that he is not a Christian at all, but a Muslim.  If we do indeed have a Muslim man as President, than a violent attack against God's children is inevitable.  In many ways, it has already started.  Almost half a million pro-lifers marching through the streets of our nation's capital are nowhere to be seen on all the major television channels, the handful of priests who act sinfully are plastered all over the news while the millions of strong and holy priests are never acknowledged for their hard work, and conservative leaders who are subjected to harsh punishments for defending the truth are not protected by our government (Michael Savage, the last brave and honest radio host, is banned in Britain and our government is not trying to help him; Andrew Breitbart mysteriously died of a "heart-attack" after announcing he had an old video of Obama that would reveal unfavorable things about his past).  Strange camps claiming to be disaster relief centers, surrounded by barbed wire and fiercely guarded, are springing up across America, and pro-life activists have been officially declared terrorists, who can be legally arrested and thrown in prison thanks to our current governmental administration.  A large line of coincidences?  It's possible, but unfortunately very unlikely.
All of these disturbing events and changes bring me back to my original point.  Has the increasingly threatened freedom of the religious finally been taken away?  Is the prospect of martyrdom really something that is no longer a possiblity?
I hope that this is a huge exaggeration, and that Obama will lose the election and this country will begin to turn around.  Yet, in the face of what is going on today, I cannot help but fall on my knees in fear before God, begging Him to give me the strength to endure whatever end He may call me to undergo.  Dear God, if you were to call me to martyrdom, would I be strong enough to withstand pain and humiliation for You?  With all my heart, I hope I will never find out, but if worst comes to worst, may St. Joan of Arc, my patron, and St. Catherine of Alexandria, one of her "Voices", interceed for me, stand by me, and give me the strength to say with Joan, "I am not afraid, I was born to do this."
And, may Catholics everywhere awake to the serious dangers threatening to destroy us, turn from sin, repent, and renew our fight for life in the face of wrong. 
The victory is already known, for Christ already defeated death, and will triumph in the end.  Yet, the Last Battle (as C.S. Lewis entitled his Chronicles of Narnia book) must still be fought, and may God find us with swords and bows ready, our hearts courageous despite human fear, our spirits willing despite physical weakness, and our trust completely in Him.  And, as always, never give up hope.

"O death, where is thy victory?
O death, where is thy sting?"

1 Cor. 15:55

All links within the text will direct you to older posts on this blog relating to the specific subject, example: the link in the words "Eclipse of the Sun" will open the post where I reviewed that book, etc. 

First quote: The Story of a Soul, St. Therese of Lisieux, p. 162 (TAN books)
Second quote: The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien, p. 220 (Houghton Mifflin)


  1. Thank you, Arafea! My comments are here:

    Please read 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-12:

    Tibi gratias!

    Tuus amicus in caritate Christi, Ioannes.

    1. Thank you, Mr. Paul, for the reassuring reminder!

      Dominus vobiscum.

  2. Nice job of putting your thoughts together. I don't know about you but writing is the only way I can get my mind around things.

    As bad as things are getting and as bad as they can get there really isn't anything to worry about. The fact that you see it, and even more so that you can describe it so well, puts you miles ahead of most.

    You've been given a gift. You won't be surprised by the coming persecutions. You'll have had time to prepare, to harden your resolve, to pray and ask God for the grace, wisdom and strength that you'll need.

    You'll have put on your armor.

    The things that are coming are mostly likely not the end, rather a new beginning - a change of era. The Church Fathers were fairly consistent in their belief that just as the Father rested on the seventh day so too shall the people. The idea of a thousand years of peace, the lion laying down with the lamb, a period of rest and right order that occurs before the final battle. I believe this is where we're heading.

    But we've got a bit of ugliness to get through first. Maybe more than a bit. But as you said above, we can take strength in knowing who wins. And we can also take strength in knowing that if we just follow God's will we'll be OK. Better than OK.

    You're young and I'm old so I'll pass along an old guy secret. Worry gets you no where. It can't change a thing. All it does is eat you up and weaken you. You know what's coming so don't worry - prepare. Satan is the father of worry. He will use it against you.

    Try to warn those around you. Honestly, I think the time of grace that opened hearts to the message has passed but I could be wrong. It seems to me that our time is better spent helping those that have heard the call understand what to do. Those that still refuse to believe probably won't. I hate to say it but I think all the lifeboats have left the sinking ship. You're either in one now or you're going to go down into the waters of darkness and death.

    Try to spend your time with like minded people because it's those people that will have to work together in the coming storm. Start with your family then move onto your friends and neighborhood. You can't change the world but you can have profound impact in your little part of it.

    We're fortunate in our parish to have a priest that sees what's coming. It really helps to have a religious leader with his knowledge to help understand where we're going. Talk to your priest. If he isn't on board try to find one that is. It really helps to have someone in that capacity to talk to. I don't know about you but sometimes I feel a bit crazy with the things that I sense or know. Especially when the whole world just seems to be going along like usual. It helps to have the support of other "crazy" people.

    We can't know for certain exactly what's coming our way but we can certainly get a pretty good idea. We can't change it (though I think there was a time we could've but that time is past) so we shouldn't worry. All we can do is trust and try to do our duty to God. Everything else will take care of itself.

    Keep on writing and may God bless you and your family. And keep that armor on tight!

    1. Catawissa,

      Thank you; writing certainly helps me understand my feelings and think about everything more logically. It's a wonderful way to organize one's thoughts.

      The Lord truly has blessed me- anything praiseworthy I do is all because of Him. I thank you for reminding me not to worry. Being a natural worry-wart and prone to stress, it's easy for me to get all worked up and forget the importance of putting my trust in God completely.

      Yes, indeed! The armor of Christ! How blessed we are to have such a strong defense!

      I truly hope that we are approaching that period of rest, and that this is not the end, but another time of terrible tribulation that will indeed end.

      Thanks for the "old guy secret". :) It reminds me of the Serenity prayer: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

      I think it is importnat to minister to those around you, but to be ready to take advantage of any opportunity to reach those outside your normal sphere as well. And, as always, let your actions be your evangelization when words cannot be.

      You truly are fortunate. As I mentioned above, it is easy to feel like I'm blowing things out of proportion. Your support is greatly appreciated! :)

      Thank you so much for your encouraging remarks. May God bless you as well! I will keep my armor on and work on repairing any dents! :)

  3. Stay the course! You are amazing! "When we work, we work; when we pray, God works!" Many prayers are needed as the Blessed Mother calls.

    1. I will, thank you so much Anonymous! My God is truly amazing, and I am blessed that He has raised me up in such a way for His glory! I like the quote, and will continue to pray. God bless!

  4. However much tribulation we might see in our own lifetimes, this is what we were Baptized for. This recent homily might resonate with you:

    Especially the very last paragraph ;-)

    1. Thank you leorningcniht! That article was helpful, and as you said a life of persecution and trial, filled with crosses and difficulties, is truly what we as Christians are called to endure. After all, only one of the Apostles did not die a martyrs death- and even he was forced to bear great sufferings as well.
      God Bless!

  5. "Ignatius, who is also Theophorus, to the church
    of God the Father and of Jesus Christ the Beloved... to
    the church which is in Smyrna of Asia, in a blameless
    spirit and in the word of God abundant greeting.

    I give glory to Jesus Christ the God who
    bestowed such wisdom upon you; for I have perceived
    that ye are established in faith immovable, being as
    it were nailed on the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ,
    in flesh and in spirit, and firmly grounded in love in
    the blood of Christ...

    ...and when He came to Peter and his company, He
    said to them, _Lay hold and handle me, and see that I
    am not a demon without body._ And straightway they
    touched Him, and they believed, being joined unto His
    flesh and His blood. Wherefore also they despised
    death, nay they were found superior to death."- St. Ignatius of Antioch, shortly before being torn apart by lions in the Roman Colosseum.

    Let us pray that we found worthy to despise death on account of the Resurrection, and be found in Christ superior to it. St. Ignatius of Antioch, pray for us!

    Wonderful blog by the way! :)

  6. A powerful quote! Thank you, JonathanCatholic, for the inspiration and the compliment. May God bless you!


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